Monochrome Watches
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The New Zenith Pilot Collection (Live Pics & Price)

A new, resolutely modern, collection of pilot watches with the El Primero touch.

| By Xavier Markl | 4 min read |
2023 Zenith Pilot Collection

Zenith has longstanding and legitimate links to aviation. The brand filed a trademark for the French term “PILOTe” in 1888 and for its English version “PILOT” in 1904. Zenith was indeed a prominent maker of specialized watches and dashboard instruments for pilots. Among famous users, Louis Blériot achieved his epic flight onboard his monoplane across the English Channel with a Zenith on his wrist. Launched in 2012, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 was a classic take on the genre featuring an oversized case fitted with straight lugs and an oversized onion crown. Zenith now introduces an all-new collection of pilot watches in a style envisioned more in line with current Zenith designs. If these retain typical attributes, the new models eschew the traditional vintage-inspired codes with a resolutely modern, urban style. The Zenith Pilot watch is versatile enough to cope with its duty but also to accompany you as a reliable, elegant everyday timekeeper.

2023 Zenith Pilot Collection

The Zenith Pilot Automatic

Presented in steel or black ceramic, the Zenith Pilot automatic comes in a 40mm size. It features a new case design with a flat-top bezel on top of a rounded case. The steel version is brushed with polished chamfers while the ceramic version has a matte micro-blasted finish. Inspired by the corrugated fuselage of an aircraft, the opaline dial’s distinctive horizontal grove pattern adds a sense of depth. The Arabic numerals and sword-shaped hands are filled with white lume. The white line on top of the date window is a nod to the plane’s turn coordinators or artificial horizon, the instruments that allow pilots to control their aircraft position. Last, it is emblazoned with the “pilot” caption: according to Zenith, they remain the only brand to hold the rights to mark its dials with the term.

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2023 Zenith Pilot Automatic Black Ceramic

The watch is powered by the Zenith El Primero 3620 automatic calibre. As its name suggests, this high-frequency time-and-date movement is a non-chronograph version of the El Primero 3600 used previously in the Defy Skyline, however here with a central seconds display. It beats at 5Hz and has 60 hours of autonomy when fully wound. The rotor is blackened and open-worked, and its design is also inspired by flight instruments.

The Zenith Pilot automatic is delivered with two interchangeable straps: black and Khaki Cordura for the ceramic version; black Cordura and brown calfskin leather strap for the steel version. The practical quick-release mechanism allows you to swap your strap and the personality of your watch in seconds with no tool. The triple folding buckle is in steel or black PVD-coated steel. The steel version retails for CHF 7,500 and the ceramic version for CHF 9,500.

2023 Zenith Pilot Automatic Black Ceramic

Quick Facts – Zenith Pilot automatic: 40mm case – steel or black ceramic – black opaline dial with horizontal groves and SLN – water resistant to 10 ATM / 100M – automatic movement El Primero 3620 – 5 Hz and 60-hour power reserve – comes with two different interchangeable straps on folding buckle – CHF 7,500 in steel, CHF 9,500 in black ceramic

The Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph

The Big Date Flyback version of Zenith’s new Pilot watch uses the same design cues. It comes in a 42.5mm case with rectangular push-pieces. If the ceramic version retains a black/white colourway, the steel version comes with a twist. A nod to the Zenith Rainbow Flyback, the minute totalizer features sectors in alternating colours to better distinguish the five-minute marks and the chronograph hands are rendered in bright orange. Launched in 1997 to answer a French Military commission, the Rainbow was the first flyback version of the El Primero.

2023 Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph Black Ceramic

Inside the watch is the automatic El Primero 3600 calibre. This version of the legendary Zenith high-frequency, integrated chronograph was presented on the occasion of its 50th anniversary. It features a beefed-up 60-hour power reserve. In this instance, it incorporates functions that have been specifically conceived for Pilots, in particular with the addition of a big date and a fly-back mechanism.

The all-new instantaneous big date is driven by a patented compliant mechanism that ensures a snap jump (0.07 seconds), advancing and stabilizing its two wheels in less than 0.03 seconds! The fly-back function is characteristic for pilot chronographs to calculate directions with maximum precision: the chronograph’s hand can be stopped, reset to zero, and restarted with a single push of a button, instead of going through the traditional three-step start-stop-reset sequence. There again, thanks to compliant parts, the chronograph command is smooth and precise.

2023 Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Chronograph Black Ceramic

As the Automatic version, the Zenith Pilot Chronograph comes with 2 interchangeable straps: black or Khaki Cordura for the ceramic version; black Cordura and brown calfskin for the steel version. The price is set at CHF 11,400 in steel and CHF 13,400 in ceramic.

Quick Facts – Zenith Pilot Chronograph: 42.5mm case – steel or black ceramic – black opaline dial with horizontal groves and SLN – water resistant to 10 ATM / 100M – automatic movement El Primero 3652 – 5 Hz and 60-hour power reserve – comes with two different interchangeable straps on folding buckle – CHF 11,400 in steel, CHF 13,400 in black ceramic

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7 responses

  1. Movement finishing is ugly and basically none existent, big disappointment from a huge Zenith fan.

  2. the applied indices look really well done tbh. thought the lume intensity/duration remains to be seen. not very hopeful since its C1

  3. The movements would be a good reason. IWC and their basic ETA movements are unbelievably overpriced.

  4. The new IWC mark XX has an upgraded (actual) in house movement Calibre 32111 with 120hr power reserve. With 5.750 EUR retail price is good value for money.

  5. Prior version was a favorite and firmly on my wish list. This update is not inspiring, quite bland and unfortunate.

  6. By the same logic going for the IWC over the Zenith, you’d have to go for the Longines over the IWC; 2-3K less depending on Stainless or Titanium, bracelets as well as strap available, by the IWC definition it is also in-house for movement. In reality everyone will pick based on their esthetic preferences and price sensitivity. More options are always a good thing so glad Zenith came out with this one. Personally prefer its looks over the IWC, but doubt I would pay as much for either one; make this one in titanium and I might change my mind.

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