The Pilot Type 20 GMT by Zenith was originally presented in the black-dial version in 2013, and the brand is currently promoting a boutique edition of this model, along with another two watches (El Primero Chronomaster Power Reserve, and Elite Power Reserve). They all have a distinctive blue dial design, and a 150th anniversary transparent sapphire crystal caseback. The brand was in fact founded in Le Locle in 1865. This piece is in direct relation to the early pilot’s watches that all descend from a Zenith model made for Louis Blériot (shown below in his monoplane) in 1909.
Case and dial
The case is in brushed titanium, and it is large at 48 mm diameter, 15.8 mm thick, a size consistent with the characteristics of the original pilot’s watches. It has a 100 metres water resistance rating. The blue sunray-pattern dial has the classic Art Deco style numerals with luminescent paint, and the equally characteristic hands. Differently to the historical version, this watch has the small seconds dial at 9 o’clock, and an extra hand, a red-tipped skeletonized hand that indicates a second time zone (home time) on the 24-hour scale right at the outside of the dial. On the caseband, at about 10 o’clock, there is a large pusher, which moves the GMT hand by one hour at a time, for rapid time zone adjustment. Just below the pusher there is a small plate with the watch’s identification number. And – fantastic! – the watch doesn’t have a date display. One of the benefits of making your own movements. The watch has a blue calfskin strap with rubber lining.
The Zenith Elite 693 automatic movement is designed and made in-house, with 186 components, running at 28,800 vph (4 Hertz), with a power reserve of 50 hours. The oscillating weight is decorated with Côtes de Genève stripes.
Reference number and price
The 150th anniversary Zenith Pilot Type 20 GMT, reference 95.2430.693/51.C751, costs 8,400 Swiss francs (about €7,920). It is a limited edition of 50 pieces, with transparent caseback with anniversary logo.
The classic Pilot Type 20 GMT, with black dial, reference 03.2430.693/21.C723 (shown below), costs 7,400 Swiss francs.
And here is the Zenith watch that started it all: the piece made for Louis Bleriot. On 25 July 1909, Bleriot made his epic crossing of the English Channel from Calais to Dover, wearing a watch made by Zenith: