Despite its outrageously gargantuan proportions, the limited edition Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 (surprisingly) doesn’t look as ridiculous as many of its similarly-proportioned competitors. You see, it is somewhat difficult to fat-shame a timekeeper when you know that it is was made big in order to accommodate a huge (and also, legendary) deck watch movement that in 1967 set (and still holds) a world record for precision in its class at the Neuenburg Observatory competition.
The movement in question is the good old Caliber 5011K hand-wound movement that was first introduced in 1960 and officially certified as a chronometer by COSC.
Comprising only 134 parts and built on 19 jewels, the caliber is one of the most impressively sized movements that power a modern wristwatch.
According to official specs, the 5011 is almost 50 millimeters in diameter and is whole 10 millimeters thick.
As far as I know, previously the movement was only used as a part of instruments clusters of certain aircraft, so there was no need to make it especially compact. So, when guys from Zenith decided to put the caliber inside a wristwatch, they simply had to make it big, really big.
According to official specs, the body measures impressive 57.5 millimeters in diameter (and approximately 65 millimeters from lug to lug, which is almost ridiculous since nobody wears them pilot’s watches over a heavy leather jacket’s sleeve) and its winding crown looks like a .45 bullet after it hit an armor plate.
Since a steel case of such an impressive size would simply be too heavy, the Swiss engineers decided to craft the body of the new Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 from lightweight titanium alloy.
It is nice to see that the dial of the limited edition model reproduces a dial of the Zenith Type 20 deck watch from 1938. Although the fonts they use are slightly different ad the hands are a trifle wider, and the small seconds indicator was transferred from the usual place at 6 hours to 9 o’clock, the only significant difference here is the introduction of a power reserve indicator, which is placed at 3 hours.
As usual for an instrument of this sort, the dial is easily readable and lacks any excessive decoration.
Zenith plans to limit the whole lot to just 250 pieces, which is reasonable since the watch is probably doomed to become a pure collector’s item and will spend most of its life in some heavily-guarded bank vault.
No information on price yet*.
See also: Muehle-Glasuette Terrasport II Automatic
* UPDATE ON PRICING: The Type 20 costs $10,300.
Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 Limited Edition specification
Price: $10,300 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-wound, caliber Zenith 5011K, 49.60 mm x 10.00 mm, in-house, COSC-certified chronometer, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 19
Movement frequency: 18,000 vph
Movement decoration: Vertical Geneva Stripes, polished screw heads
Functions: Hours, minutes, power reserve, small seconds
Power reserve: 48 hours
Size: 57.50 mm
Numerals: Arabic, luminous
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Brown leather strap with contrast stitching