With its noble bearing and vintage patina, the new Pilot Extra Special Chronograph is imbued with the intrepid heritage of high-flying heroes. A natural heir to the onboard instruments developed by Zenith in the early years of aeronautics and known for their precision, sturdiness and outstanding legibility, this chronograph – with its virile bronze case, its high-frequency El Primero ‘engine’ and its black dial bearing green-emission SLN Arabic numerals – sports the vigorous typology of these iconic pilot’s watches.
Framing an oversized luminescent display guaranteeing peerless readability, the substantial 45 mm-diameter case – featuring a large screwed-in crown and ratcheted pushpieces facilitating adjustment with gloved hands – is made of bronze: a highly resistant anti-magnetic alloy that acquires a natural patina giving it a unique vintage touch.
Topped by a domed sapphire crystal, the new sandblasted black dial picks up the font of the original large Arabic numerals, made from blocks of white (green-emission) Super-LumiNova® SLN C1. The luminescent facetted hands sweep over this distinctive watch face, also punctuated by two counters and a railway-type minutes track. The inscriptions “Montre d’Aéronef” and “Pilot” are a reminder that the Manufacture was one of the first producers of altimeters and cockpit watches at the dawn of military and civil aviation.
At the heart of its 100-metre case hums an ‘engine’ known for its legendary precision: El Primero Calibre 4069. This high-frequency column-wheel chronograph movement is a descendant of the world’s most accurate series-made chronograph, developed by Zenith and presented in 1969. Beating at a rate of 5Hz enabling a tenth-of-a-second display, it drives the central hours and minutes, small seconds and chronograph functions, while ensuring a 50-hour power reserve.
In a nod to its aviation origins, the solid titanium case-back depicts the plane flown by Louis Blériot when he crossed the Channel in 1909 with a Zenith on his wrist, along with the Zenith flight instruments logo, complemented by a motif inspired by the fuselage of the legendary French pilot’s aircraft. Built for exploring far horizons, this Pilot Extra Special is harnessed to the wrist by a khaki green oily nubuck leather strap with beige stitching, rubber-lined and secured by a titanium pin buckle.