With the introduction of Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 – long and tongue twisting title – back in 2012, Zenith has laid a very strong identity to one of its main pillar of products. Multiple variations that amplify the strong characteristics of the watch soon followed in 2013 with the introduction of the GMT version as well as ladies version which I myself took fancy and actually purchased. What Zenith introduced in Basel 2014, was simply unexpected and quite simply astonishing.
I always thought that Pilot lines with its lineage should be a tool watch with high legibility and functions that serves the purpose. For 2014 edition, Zenith introduced Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu. A new iteration of the original Type 20 but now the watch boasts a grand feu enamel dial, a hand-engraved bezel, lugs and crown and cased in sapphire. At the same time, it gains in size to 60mm across the dial. My first reaction when I saw this piece was simply astonishment, and thought, “have these people gone mad”?
The case and the back of the watch is now made of sapphire while the lugs, bezel and crown are decorated with floral motifs made of white gold. The engraving is very sharp, beautifully done and I am actually quite impressed especially with the engraving on the onion shaped crown.
Flip the watch over shows a fully engraved movement of historic and celebrated 5011, which now Zenith has christened as 5011K. I am not sure what the K stands for but looking at the published specification, it is the same observatory grade movement which at one time achieved the highest score ever at Neuchatel Observatory while beating at 18,000 bph with 48 hours power reserve. The engraving itself follows the same pattern as on the exterior of the watch and it is beautiful sight to behold.
Topping off the watch is a dial from material that has been a favorite of mine, enamel dial, the Grand Feu. The dial itself has very crisp color and it looks fantastic with blued steel skeleton hands. There is no lume on the hands, which again, make the utility factor of this watch very low.
Looking at the overall package, I thought, none of this makes sense. This watch has in every way defies what the Pilot lines should stand for, then it struck me, I think this watch is a celebration piece. Celebration of Zenith know how as manufacture. Celebration for the 5011K movement, coming from the most awarded company for chronometric excellence. I think this piece is an early celebration piece, welcoming the 150 years anniversary of Zenith Manufacture in 2015. I am so looking forward to what they have in store next year.