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Review: Zenith Heritage Pilot Cafe Racer with pricing

by Chester Lau on April 11, 2016
Overview
Brand

Zenith

Complication / Type of Watch

Chronograph

Recommended Retail Price

SGD$11200

Positives

Interesting case work, aged steel instead of the now super common bronze.
Great dial work, for a rustic faded tarmac colour.
El primero movement, ultra reliable, high performance and historic.

Negatives

Purists may find it too fashionable, or too cosmetic
Strange long name, Pilot and Cafe Racer seem like two different storylines.

Zenith releases the Heritage Pilot Cafe Racer to add to its line of Pilot watches. Recently helmed by the Type 20 and the Extra special series, the Cafe Racer represents a new variety, reasonably priced with a superb El Primero chronograph movement. 

 

zenith-caferacer-oblique

The Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer with aged stainless steel case.

 

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Vintage look of the watch is made complete with a raised dome sapphire crystal and vintage lume hands and markers.

 

The Case

The 45 mm case is made of aged stainless steel and is 14.25 mm thick. It comes with a domed sapphire crystal with double sided anti-reflective treatment. The case back is in titanium with engravings and the watch is water resistant to 10 ATM. So some of us may wonder, how is the ageing process on steel done? We checked with the guys at Zenith and found out that the uneven tone texture is achieved via a black chrome treatment on the steel case (like a black chrome bath). Once the black chrome is applied, it is sandblasted for the black chrome to firmly latch on the base steel. The steel parts are then sent for a second black chrome bath. Finally, each case is hand polished to achieve the final results. We thought the final effect looks very artisan, reminiscent of pencil sketching.

 

 

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The 45mm watch comes fit with a green oily nubuck leather strap with protective rubber lining and a titanium buckle.

 

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Check out the grain finish slate-gray dial. Works perfectly with the beige patina lume.

 

The Dial & Movement

While some people may start to find fault with the notion of synthetic ageing, this trend is definitely here to stay and can be done pretty well. For the Zenith Heritage Pilot Cafe Racer, it uses a slate-gray dial with grain patterns. The hour markers are treated with SuperLuminova SLN GL beige and so are the Black ruthenium-plated hands. Complete with a neat railroad seconds track, the retro themed dial has plenty of character. The watch uses the El Primero 4069, a high performance automatic integrated column wheel movement that beats at 36,000 VpH (5 Hz)  with 50 hours of power reserve.

 

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Closed case back with engraved detailing of a Cafe Racer

 

zenith-caferacer-wrist

Well-sized for the modern man’s wrist

The Zenith Heritage Pilot Cafe Racer wears hefty on the wrist at 14.25 mm in height. Given it’s Pilot design cues, the watch is meant to be larger than usual and of course more legible. While some of us find its Pilot storyline particularly confusing, given that the watch also has ties with motorsports, we also thought this piece that Zenith has built represents a possible trend of breaking away from categories. Priced lower than the Bronze extra special, this chronograph piece retails at S$11,200.

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