The beauty of a pilot’s watch can often be attributed to its size and legibility – both qualities adding to the functionality of the piece. While the watches might have found their relevance in the early days of aviation, its heritage has been a well-celebrated trend in the modern watch world and only few brands typically carry these striking pieces. This year, Swiss watchmaker Zenith shows off why it remains the quintessential brand for pilot timepieces with the new Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph. 

Since it first took to the skies on the wrist of Louis Bleriot, Zenith has always kept a keen interest in aviation. The brand was one of the few manufactures back then to design and produce cockpit instruments for planes and continuously created pilot watches. Its new Pilot Extra Special Chronograph takes direction from this heritage, utilising an impressive bronze case that exudes a vintage cool thanks to the natural patina. At 45mm, the case is imposing by itself but combined with its weathered look, lends a touch of a masculine era gone by. 

Other design elements such as a wide ratcheted onion crown, oversized Arabic numerals and a sandblasted black dial, all contribute to the vintage appeal of the piece. Contrasting the old however, is the new. The large Arabic numerals are made from blocks of white Super-LumiNova that glow green in the dark. The luminescent hands as well add a modern function to the watch’s face.  

Powering the timepiece is Zenith’s own legendary chronograph movement, the El Primero Calibre 4069. The high-frequency column-wheel chronograph is the evolution of the world’s first chronograph movement that Zenith created in 1969. Steadily beating at a rate of 5Hz with a 1/10 second display, the movement ensures up to 50 hours of use. 

While the watch in itself is a marvel, its strap also seeks to stand out among others. The khaki green oily nubuck leather strap contrasts against the bronze to give off a neo-retro vibe, somewhat anachronistic. Extra Special isn’t just a title in Zenith’s latest, it’s a promise that as it sits on your wrist, it will catch the eye. 

The new Zenith Pilot Extra Special Chronograph is available at the Zenith boutique and all authorised retailers

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