Nearly a year ago, Zenith made a striking debut with the all-new Pilot collection, introducing the Big Date Flyback chronograph and the Automatic models, both available in either stainless steel or black ceramic. A departure from the earlier Zenith Pilot references, these watches showcased a fresh look, featuring a new case and crown, dial designs, and, in the case of the Flyback, a new El Primero-based movement. The distinctive ribbed pattern on the opaline black dial, drawing inspiration from the corrugated metal skin of aeroplanes like the aluminium used for the “Tin Goose” Ford Trimotor and Junkers Ju 52, added an extra touch of aviation aesthetics to the collection. Zenith is expanding the collection this year by introducing a captivating blue colour scheme to the stainless steel variants. With no other changes to report, here’s a quick take.
Zenith Pilot Automatic Boutique Edition
With a diameter of 40mm, the Zenith Pilot’s stainless steel case exudes both refinement and utility, boasting a water resistance of 100m. Brushed and polished surfaces, elegantly flowing chamfers on the rounded lugs, and a sharply sloping bezel edge contribute to its attractive aesthetics. The crown, featuring a tapering profile and a ribbed edge, is adorned with an engraved Zenith star logo and looks easy to operate.
The dial of the new Zenith Pilot is a study in bold legibility, showcasing applied Arabic numerals with polished contours and filled with luminescent material. The raised dial surface maintains the unique horizontally ridged texture from the previous year’s model, now presented in a captivating dark blue hue. The pilot-watch-style hands and spear-tipped seconds hand receive the same luminescent treatment with Super-LumiNova SLN C1 found on the indices. The applied Zenith star emblem graces the position below 12 o’clock, harmoniously balanced by the ‘Pilot’ series logo. At 6 o’clock, the trapezoidal date window perfectly integrates into the dial, avoiding the common disruption of the hours’ ring in such cases. Instead of a distorted numeral at 6 o’clock, Zenith placed a horizontal marker and achieved a surprisingly balanced layout.
Powering the Pilot Automatic is the in-house El Primero 3620 self-winding movement, a modified version of the El Primero 3600 featured in the Defy Skyline. This modification accommodates a more conventional central seconds layout while maintaining the El Primero signature frequency of 36,000 vibrations/hour. The movement also offers a respectable 60-hour power reserve. The sapphire crystal caseback reveals contemporary machine finishing on the movement, featuring a sharply brushed three-quarter plate, matte-blasted accents, and a blacked-out skeleton rotor with an “artificial horizon” motif.
Quick Facts – Zenith Pilot Automatic Boutique Edition: 40mm case – steel – dark blue dial with horizontal groves and SLN – 100m water-resistant – automatic movement El Primero 3620 – 36,000vph and 60-hour power reserve – comes with two different interchangeable straps on folding buckle – CHF 7,500
Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Boutique Edition
Stepping up in size to 42.5mm wide, 51.4mm long, and 14.3mm thick, the Pilot Big Date Flyback maintains the same design essence as the three-handed Automatic. Available in steel with the textured blue dial and familiar elements, this timepiece introduces rectangular pushers for the chronograph function and sports a busier yet purposeful dial layout. The 30-minute chronograph counter finds its place at 3 o’clock, while the running seconds sub-dial resides at 9 o’clock. The name-defining feature, the big date window, takes centre stage at 6 o’clock, with an instantaneous date change in less than 0.03 seconds as both date wheels advance and stabilize.
Aligned with the earlier release, this Pilot Big Date Flyback edition houses the new El Primero 3652 movement. This movement delves into greater complexity by operating at the same 36,000vph frequency and offering a 60-hour power reserve like the Automatic’s El Primero 3620. The 30-minute chronograph incorporates a column wheel for smooth action and a lateral clutch. The flyback function allows seamless timing of consecutive events without stopping, resetting, and restarting the chronograph. Notably, this calibre features a silicon pallet fork and escape wheel along with the familiar openworked rotor.
Quick Facts – Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback Boutique Edition: 42.5mm case – steel – blue dial with horizontal groves and SLN – 100m water-resistance – automatic movement El Primero 3652 – 36,000vph and 60-hour power reserve – comes with two different interchangeable straps on folding buckle – CHF 11,400
Availability & Prices
Zenith offers its Pilot Automatic and Pilot Big Date Flyback Boutique Editions with two straps each – a blue “Cordura” effect rubber strap and a brown calfskin leather strap with a folding clasp. The straps can be easily interchanged using the quick-release system, requiring no tools. The Pilot Automatic is CHF 7,500, and the Pilot Big Date Flyback is CHF 11,400. Both models are available worldwide exclusively from Zenith’s physical and online boutiques.
For more information, please visit www.zenithwatches.com.