It looks like a classic pilot’s watch, but the Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer has a marketing campaign designed to connect with a different set of clients: classic motorbikes. The Café Racer movement was born in England in the 1920s, when riders customized their motorbikes and souped up their engines.
The watch has all the pilot’s watch characteristics, with luminescent Arabic numerals, cathedral hands, beige SuperLuminova and a large fluted screw-down crown. Other features enhance the vintage feel, such as the 45mm aged steel case, the slate-grey dial with grainy texture, the two subdials and the neatly integrated chronograph pushers.
The caseback is solid, in titanium, with a very attractive motorbike engraving. The watch has a greenish nubuck rubber-lined strap with titanium pin buckle. Water resistance 10 bar, 100 metres water.
El Primero chronograph movement
The self-winding El Primero Calibre 4069 remains one of the finest chronograph movements ever built. It was designed by Zenith in 1969, and it runs at 36,000 vibrations per hour, 5 Hertz, so that it attains a 1/10th second accuracy. The chronograph seconds hand provides indications on a ring at the outside edge of the dial, logically subdivided into fifths of a second. The chronograph is of the column-wheel type. Power reserve is over 50 hours.
To highlight the connection with vintage enthusiasts, Zenith is planning a presence at a number of classic car and motorcycle events, and it has established links with the “gentleman riders” movement, guys who sport neatly-trimmed beards and moustaches, wear vintage leathers and cloth caps when they’re not on the bike, and vintage-look helmets and goggles when they are.
Reference and price
The Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer is reference 11.2430.4069/21.C773, and the watch costs €7,500. It will be available from about September 2016.