Introducing three new Type 20 Pilot's Watches from Zenith
Good news at Le Locle, home of Zenith watches: there is still a big bunch of legendary calibers 5011K to be restored inside the company's archive with which the manufacturer will produce another batch of exclusive Pilot Watches like the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Hommage to Louis Bleriot, the first of a series of three new watches that will be released this month. Produced in just five (5!) pieces, probably all of them have been sold already, the grandfather of the modern Pilot collection is dedicated to Louis Blèriot. The timepiece features a 60mm wide sapphire crystal case with a bezel and a crown made of white gold and a meteorite dial obtained by a fragment of the Muonionalusta asteroid that originally sped through the atmosphere and then hit the earth between Sweden and Finland in a region located 140 kilometers from the Arctic Circle. For those who don't know it, the 5011K is an historical 50mm wide and 10mm thick pocket watch manual caliber with a low beat (it operates at 2,5Hz), which sports a small second counter at 3 o' clock and a Power-reserve indicator at 9 o' clock: the Holy Grail for Zenith's aficionados and Pilot watches' purists alike. On top of all these features, Zenith has engraved the movement with an image depicting Louis Blériot while he is busy crossing the Channel in 1909 aboard the Blériot XI plane.
What if I also told you that there is an additional batch of five 5011K calibers and that Zenith has skeletonized and encased them into a sapphire case with gold lugs and crown along with a blue enamel bezel? That's exactly what Zenith has come up with while creating the amazing Zenith Pilot Type 20 Squelette. In skeletonizing the movement Zenith used the bocfil (tiny hacksaw), a traditional 200 years old technique requiring a superior craftmanship (something that has really stimulated my curiosity and that I'm willing to research further) to give the movement an aviation-inspired architectural motif.
Last but not least them there's the new Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special, which features a bronze case. The biggest aesthetical change over the stainless steel version is the adoption of a bronze case, whose aging over time, which differs from watch to watch, creates a special vintage patina that makes each of them simply unique. The 45mm wide Pilot's watch has now adopted the manufactured caliber Elite 679 (beating at 4Hz): this is the biggest technical difference between this one and the stainless steel version that actually comes with a Sellita sourced movement (coded internally as Zenith 3000).
I had the chance to take some quick pictures of the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Bronze at the Zenith's booth during Baselworld (I wasn't allowed to release the pictures until now because of the embargo) and I may confirm that this watch is going to be one of the coolest Pilot's watches on the market, sporting an authentic vintage look and feel. I only have a small wish when it comes to this timepiece: one day I would like to see this watch fitted with a manual wind caliber. As far as the pricing goes no price has been released yet, but as soon as I get it I will pass it on to you!
(Photo credit: courtesy of Zenith Watches; Horbiter's proprietary photo-shooting)
Gaetano C. @Horbiter