The Manual Wind: Zenith’s First Flight
How do you update the classic pilot watch design? Make it vintage. Pilot watches for the most part have the same design features; big diameter, big crown, big hands. The watchmakers at Zenith have taken their Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT back in time for the 1903 limited edition. As a tribute to the Wright Brothers first flight; their 48mm pilot watch has been turned into a well priced in-house vintage statement.
A matte black dial with SuperLuminova Old Radium arabic numerals and hands bring in the weathered look of a 1900s pilot watch. Whereas patina due to age will no longer be luminescent, this patina-by-design boasts an authentic vintage feel while still lighting up your nightstand in the early hours. Coupled with a vintage Nubuck cuff strap in beige suede, the dial is intensified by the contrast off the black DLC coated titanium case.
Attached to the prominent onion crown is Zenith’s own caliber 693 Elite movement. With GMT function and fifty hour power reserve beating at a healthy 28,800 vph (vibrations per hour), Zenith maintains its place ahead of the pack with in-house movement value. This is one of the two in-house movements Zenith has built its reputation on. The other of course being the El Primero chronograph that some distinguish as the best chronograph movement on the market. (Check out the El Primero in the Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 Annual Calendar Chronograph.)
Zenith over the past ten years has produced some pieces that defy what a traditional in-house manufacturer might deem classic. The 1903 shows a leap in the right direction. Taking it back to their roots in aeronautical dial production, this limited edition tribute to the first flight helps Zenith’s recent redefining of the brand. If you can handle 48mm and $8,600 start looking for one of the 300 or so of the 1,903 limited edition run that will make it stateside.