Lying face down on the lower wing of the twin-propeller aircraft named “Flyer”, Orville Wright achieved the first powered, heavier-than-air controlled flight in history, on Kitty Hawk beach. The young man covered a distance of 40 metres at a height of 60 centimeters off the ground. The date was December 17th 1903. Representing a major milestone in aviation history the year 1903 now gives its name to a timepiece created by Zenith as a tribute to the Wright brothers: Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 ref. 96.2431.693/ 21.C740. A few weeks ago, we were able to review this fascinating limited edition timepiece and get some live pictures for you.
This new watch presented at Baselworld 2014, features a case made of black DLC-coated titanium that is ultra-light despite its 48 mm diameter. The ratcheted crown typical of historical aviator watches ensures a perfect grip even with pilot’s gloves.
The five-time sandblasted black dial reproduces the generous original Arabic numerals ensuring perfect readability day or night. The luminous glow of these delightfully vintage figures stems from a first “old radium” treatment covered with a more classic superluminova treatment. This ingenious combination creates a creamy shade enlivened by tiny retro accents that cannot be identically reproduced from one watch to the next. Each dial thus becomes unique and further heightens the exclusive character of the 1903-piece limited edition, of which the individual number appears on a special plate screwed to the case band, like an aircraft rivet. Just like on all other Pilot Type 20 GMT watches, the second time zone independent hand with red tip is advanced as necessary by pushing a very convenient button with fluting that is located on the case band at 10 o'clock.
The piece serves as an invitation to travel thanks to a second time-zone indicator powered by the Elite Calibre 693 movement. Finely adorned with a Côtes de Genève motif even though it remains hidden from sight, it ticks off time at the rate of 28,800 vibrations per hour and has a 50-hour power reserve. Beneath this elegant mechanical heart, the case-back, is adorned with a stamped insignia depicting Orville Wright about the “Flyer”, with his brother Wilbur running along Kitty Hawk beach to follow the feat being accomplished on December 17th 1903.
A sturdy bund type —wristband style strap first worn by German pilots in the second world war and later turned into a timeless classic by Paul Newman— strap crafted in beige suede leather sets the finishing touch to this model. Its dark brown lining features a heat-embossed motif in which connoisseurs will note the inscription “Zenith Flying Instruments” as well as the brand’s historical logo with the Le Locle Swiss Made embossing.
On the wrist, the watch wears very comfortably and slightly smaller than its actual size. The light colored bund style strap fits the look of the watch perfectly and almost matching the color of the Arabic numerals on the dial like a match made in heaven. This vintage inspired watch with its blackened DLC coated titanium case will provide unparalleled wrist presence anywhere you go in a nice limited edition of only 1903 pieces.
Sticker Price $8,600 USD. For more info on Zenith click here.
Technical Specifications of the Zenith Pilot Montre d'Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 ref. 96.2431.693/ 21.C740
Elite 693, automatic
Calibre: 11 ½ ‘‘‘ (Diameter: 25.6 mm)
Thickness: 3.94 mm
Frequency: 28,800 VpH – (4 Hz)
Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
Finishes: Oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” pattern
Hours and minutes in the center
Small seconds at 9 o’clock
24-hour second time-zone indicator
CASE, DIAL & HANDS
Material: Titanium case with DLC (Diamond Like Carbon) coating
Diameter: 48 mm
Diameter opening: 40 mm
Thickness: 15.80 mm
Crystal: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Case-back: Zenith Flying Instruments logo
Water-resistance: 10 ATM
Dial: Matte black
Hour-markers: SuperLuminova SLN Old Radium
Hands: Black ruthenium, satin-finished with
SuperLuminova SLN Old Radium
Vintage-effect nubuck heat-embossed with “Zenith Flying Instruments” logo
Steel pin buckle with black DLC coating