This year in Geneva at the Watches & Wonders exhibition, Zenith unveiled its new Pilot collection of watches. The only brand with the rights to put the word “Pilot” watch on the dial (In 1888, ZENITH filed a trademark for the French term “Pilote”, followed by the English version “Pilot” in 1904), Zenith’s new variations come in two formats: an Automatic, and a Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph. The two are offered in either stainless steel or black ceramic and two interchangeable straps go along with each one.
Zenith Pilot Automatic
Starting with the Automatic watches: they are both propelled by an El Primero 3620 automatic movement with 60 hours of power reserve, feature a black dial, and white Super-LumiNova luminescent large-sized Arabic numerals for easy reading in the dark. After all, they are pilot’s watches, which require easy readability. The Automatic Pilot watches boast an entirely new 40mm case design with a distinct flat-top round bezel fixed on top of the rounded case. In the steel version, the surfaces are vertically satin brushed with polished chamfers, while the black ceramic version is entirely microblasted for a stealthy matte finish. The oversized crown, a defining feature of Pilot watches, is more angular than previous versions.
Thanks to a transparent sapphire caseback, one can view the movement and the winding rotor with its “artificial horizon” dashboard instrument look. The horizon informs the pilot of the aircraft’s orientation relative to the Earth’s horizon.
The steel watch comes with a black cordura-effect rubber strap or a brown calf leather vintage-inspired interchangeable strap and will set you back $7,500. The black ceramic finished Automatic, which features a black cordura-effect rubber strap and a khaki-colored cordura-effect rubber strap, comes in at $9,600.
Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph
The Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph watches boast the beloved flyback function, which allows the chronograph function to be reset to zero and restarted by a single push of a button, whereas on most chronographs you have to push one button to start the chrono, one to stop it and another push to return the timing hand back to zero. This could be a very convenient feature if you are a pilot flying under Visual Flight Rules and want to use a timepiece to gauge your upcoming waypoint.
The Zenith Pilot Flyback Chronograph watches feature a 42.5 mm case and run on an El Primero 3652 high frequency chronograph. They also feature the same luminescent Arabic numerals against a black dial. In addition to the flyback chronograph function, these watches offer an essential pilot must-have: a big date indication.
The stainless steel Flyback is the only watch in the collection with some color: it displays a red orange central seconds chronograph hand and the same colored chronograph minutes hand in the 30 minute counter that is the Flyback feature. The color is inspired by the El Primero Flyback chronographs known as the Rainbow Flyback. Essentially, the 30-minute counter also sports blue, green, and yellow around its outer rim to make it easier to distingue between the five-minute marks. In contrast, the black ceramic version is created totally in black and white.
The Pilot Big Date Flyback watches, like the Pilot Automatic, come with two straps. The ceramic version, sold with a black- and a khaki-cordura effect rubber strap, is being sold for $13,500. The steel Flyback is sold with the black rubber cordura-effect strap and a brown leather strap. It sells for $11,500.