Zenith’s Pilot collection has a rich history that dates back to the early days of powered aviation. The collection is one of the oldest from Zenith, which is also one of the world’s oldest continuously operating watchmakers. In 1888, Zenith’s founder Georges Favre-Jacot trademarked the name of the watch in French, and later in English in 1904, as he was convinced that the future of mankind lay in the skies. Zenith quickly became one of the leading makers of watches designed for daring aerial explorers, including Louis Blériot, who was the first person to cross the English Channel by plane in 1909. The Pilot collection has been known for its durability, legibility, and intuitiveness throughout its over a century-long history. Zenith has now given this classic collection a modern makeover for 2023, infusing it with a contemporary aesthetic.
The Pilot Automatic takes pride of place in Zenith’s new collection, featuring a redesigned case with a flat-top round bezel. The 40mm case is available in vertically satin-brushed stainless steel or micro-blasted matt black ceramic. The black opaline dial of the Pilot Automatic showcases classic Pilot features, such as an oversized crown and horizontal grooves resembling the corrugated metal sheets used in aircraft fuselages.
The dial boasts oversized Arabic numerals for enhanced legibility, with the metal numbers filled with white Super-LumiNova, except for the six o’clock position where a horizontal line is featured, reminiscent of the artificial horizon instrument on an airplane’s control panel. The Pilot Automatic runs on the El Primero 3620 high-frequency manufacture movement, offering a power reserve of 60 hours.
The Pilot Big Date Flyback in Zenith’s new collection features a sophisticated El Primero 3652 automatic high-frequency chronograph calibre with a pair of additional functions. The oversized date display has a mechanism that quickly and accurately advances and stabilizes its wheels in less than 0.03 seconds, while the flyback function allows the chronograph to be reset and restarted with the push of a button. The rotor of the calibre visually resembles the horizon instrument and can be seen through the back of the watch.
The Pilot Big Date Flyback is available in two versions: a stainless steel one with a minutes totaliser in alternating colors and central chronograph seconds and minutes hands in bright orange, and a black ceramic rendition with luminescent white markers and hands.
Zenith’s Defy collection welcomes some new and innovative pieces in addition to the Pilot timepieces for 2023. The Defy Skyline and Defy Skyline Skeleton offer a modern take on the original 1969 collection, featuring a sleek black ceramic design. The Defy Revival Shadow is the latest addition to the Defy Revival collection, incorporating the historic codes of the watch and transforming them into a stylish darker version.