In their bicycle shop in Dayton Ohio, Wilbur and Orville Wright dreamed of wideopen spaces and freedom. These natural-born inventors conceived a first glider that they launched on the Kitty Hawk dunes in North Carolina. At the same time, they built a wind tunnel to study various technical aspects such as the profile of the wings. Constantly perfecting their prototypes, they installed a stabiliser at the front of a second glider, and then a steering rudder at the back of a third that could thus be controlled: a world first in the field of aeronautics! After hundreds of trials, the two brothers decided to move a step forwards by equipping their glider with an engine. 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.
Zenith was one of the first watch manufacturers to create flight instruments to equip various aircraft and spaceships manned by the aviation pioneers. Known for their precision and exceptional ability to withstand vibrations, magnetic fields and variations in temperature, the Zenith altimeters, watches, onboard and wristworn chronographs became extremely popular with pilots, who were thus accompanied in their feats by the brand with the guiding star. In just over a century, Louis Blériot, Léon Morane, or more recently Felix Baumgartner, accomplished their destiny and put their name in the history books with a Zenith instrument on their wrist or on their cockpit controls.
Drawing upon these historical roots, the piece features a case made of black DLC-coated titanium that is therefore ultra-light despite its 48mm 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. The effect is fascinating and the resulting appearance truly unique, since 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.
The piece serves as an invitation to travel thanks to a second time-zone indicator powered by the Elite Calibre 693 movement. Finelyadorned 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 wristband crafted in beige suede leather sets the finishing touch to this model. Its lining features a heat-embossed motif in which connoisseurs will note the inscription “Zenith Flying Instruments” as well as the brand’s historical logo, thus underlining the spirit of an era in which the skies were still waiting to be conquered.
Sticker Price TBC 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