Something tells me that most of you must remember the great (in all meanings of the word) Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 watch that the Swiss watchmaker has had revealed about two years ago. Last year, the brand has introduced a new version of the watch, albeit in a smaller (but still defiantly massive) body and featuring a second time zone indicator. For the next year, the company delivered yet another version of the timepiece inspired by aviator watches of the early 20th century. Called Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 Limited Edition, the device bears the same layout and dimensions, but comes with a lot more appealing “vintage” styling.
Compared to the original (well, I am not sure whether the adjective is strictly appropriate here, but let it be) model, the GMT version come in a considerably smaller body. While the 2012 model was impressive 57.5 millimeters in diameter, the 2013 version was delivered in a lot more comfortable body that measured “just” 48 millimeters in width.
Of course, crafted from stainless steel, even this noticeably slimmed down version of the watch was a real pain to wear on a daily basis, so Zenith engineers also designed a limited edition version of the device (ref. 96.2430.693/21.C703) in a feather-light titanium body that was then treated with black DLC coating
With DLC abbreviation standing for Diamond-Like Carbon (it is in fact almost as hard as real diamonds), the treatment allows to protect relatively soft metals with a very thin layer of carbon structure that not only makes the watch look extremely cool thanks to its matte black surface, but also protects it from scratches and other sorts of damage that titanium is prone to.
This new Type 20 GMT 1903 limited edition looks like a slightly redecorated version of the aforementioned special edition model. Basically, the main difference between the two is that the new model has the white Superluminova of the original replaced with a vintage-looking dark-beige luminous compound. Slightly detracting from the timekeeper’s legibility in daylight, the choice of color, however, makes this new version look a lot more appealing and, well, more natural and organic. To my taste, the wristwatch would look even better if the Swiss brand decided to remove the logo and other modern-looking inscriptions from the dial, but what the heck.
Besides the aged-looking “Old Radium” SuperLuminova compound that decorates the Arabic numerals and the vintage-shaped hour and minute hands, the watch also features a brown Nubuck strap that, too, has that romantic vintage aura around it and would possibly look great with a brown bomber jacket.
The watch comes animated by the same Elite 693 in-house caliber that seems to be based on their earlier Caliber Elite 682 automatic movement that powers their considerably smaller Captain Dual Time dress watch. Featuring the same number of jewels and power reserve, the same dimensions and even the same layout, it still bears 28 more components and comes sans the date window, which is really a pity although I get the idea behind the decision.
According to the company, the watch is limited to 1903 pieces, so getting one will probably not pose any serious problem.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: n/a
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT 1903 Limited Edition (Ref. 96.2431.693/ 21.C740) watch specification
Price: $8900 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, Caliber Elite 693, in-house, 186 components, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 26
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Power reserve: 50 hours
Movement decoration: No data
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, GMT
Case material: Titanium, black DLC treated
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 48.00 mm
Case height: 15.80 mm
Lug width: No data
Dial: Black, matte
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: White
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: “Vintage” Nubuck with a steel black DLC deployant clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Solid