Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton-Up Black
About the timepiece and the unexpected encounter with Moto Morini motorcycles before the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride
The Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is an international event that has reached such a high level of participation that is now difficult to contain. Among our friends there were at least two people taking part in the event, including Olivier - better known by his "Milan-ese" nickname on Instagram - and Ezio Noviello, a Top Executive in the private sector (the two guys, in the middle, leading the group pictured above).
They are motorcyclists, watch-making fans and connoisseurs that yearly meet, on the last Sunday in September, with a large group of other motorcyclists that "invade" Milan. The D.G.R., as it is usually abbreviated, is an event created with noble purposes in mind that focuses on people's passion for motorcycling and motorbikes to raise funds for the research in prostate cancer and to reduce the male suicide rates, thus supporting the renowned Movember Foundation.
This is an event with the genes of a dandy event that is dedicated to the lovers of cafe racers and scramblers - it is an event that we could better-define as a cosmopolitan version of the Wheels and Waves festival in Biarritz (yet another event that you shouldn't miss if you love surfing and skating too).
The numbers strongly confirm the success of this original idea launched by Australian man Mark Hawwa - the Distinguished Gentleman's Ride is therefore not simply an Italian phenomenon, but it is rather an international competition that includes events involving 650 cities in 95 countries scattered all around the world. If we were to compare this competition to other motorcycling events, this project would be close, by the number of participants, to other gatherings organized by famous brands, such as the Harley Davidson H.O.G. or the Ducati Week.
We didn't take part in the D.G.R. in person, but this event was, nevertheless, our opportunity to get closer, after a hiatus of few years, to the Zenith brand, from which we had slightly strayed away. The Swiss brand walked hand in hand with the creation of Horbiter® - we are linked to each other through a personal relationship based on the appreciation for what this brand gave - and still gives - to the world of watch-making.
However, also traditions have to be updated and, today, Zenith's image is that of a brand displaying some products, whose spirit is linked to a lifestyle and a culture that are not exclusively connected to world of mechanics anymore. That tradition has rather (in this case) moved to the vintage riding world instead and the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton-Up Black is a typical example of this change.
Our meeting with the Ton-Up Black occurred at the same time as when we first randomly bumped into the historic Moto Morini brand - a brand that, unfortunately, has recently lost its Italian passport. Like a Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton-Up Black, a Moto Morini motorbike is an exclusive product manufactured in small numbers for a connoisseur audience only.
You won't find this article in our Horbiter-R by Horbiter® dedicated section simply because the motorbike is a source of inspiration for this article that is deliberately dedicated to the watch and to the aged steel version of the world's most famous automatic chronograph movement based here on an aviator's watch.
Those of you who are still too young to remember the history of this particular world might not know that Zenith originally supplied its El Primero caliber to other brands, like Rolex. The Daytona watches from the 90s owe their success and their reliability to their caliber that derived from El Primero (although in a modified version and with a slowed-down frequency), while the case style of this chronograph version is the natural evolution, in a key cafe racer declension, of the 2014 Type 20 collection launched by Zenith some years ago.
Its style is therefore the direct descendant of the great Pilot's watches manufactured by Zenith and endowed with a less traditional style. A 45mm wide case, 50 hours of power reserve and a price of 7500€ are the three main figures that in short describe this vintage inspired chronograph. An out-of-ordinary way to make an El Primero based chronograph, yours.
(Photo credit: courtesy of Zenith, Horbiter®'s proprietary photo-shooting by Simona Bertogliatti)
Gaetano C @Horbiter®