Looking at our stats, I see that demand for recommendations regarding diving watches is a seasonal thing with most visitors coming in summer and then gradually declining till Christmas only to start growing again in early January. "Pilots" are different animals: I have an impression that people are always interested in "aviators" regardless of the time of season. So, for your reading pleasure, a choice of fifteen timekeepers from under $200 to more than $10,000 as priced by online retailers that I find worthy of being considered while shopping for your new (or maybe your very first!) pilot's watch this year.
The 2016 Zenith Elite Chronograph Classic Cal. 4069 is equipped with the new Caliber 4069 automatic movement and is offered both in relatively inexpensive steel and much more impressively priced gold version. At this time, this is one of the most interesting choices when it comes to "dressy" chronographs with "character" currently offered by the brand.
Available in two finishes and sporting a fairly impressive size of whole 45 millimeters in diameter, the new Zenith El Primero Stratos Spindrift Racing Special Edition (refs. 75.2060.4061/21.R573 & 86.2060.4061/21.R573) tries to mix into a single convincing package such iconic elements of their design as the signature rotating bezel, the cloverleaf-style dial cutout that shows the timekeeper's inner workings, as well as an El Primero movement. What's surprising here is that the final product doesn't look too eclectic: while standing a bit dangerously to the 'love it or hate it' category, it is, in fact, an organic-looking piece that will find a niche of its own.
Fashion / Swiss
Offering an outrageous blend of materials and textures, the Dior Chiffre Rouge C03 (ref. CD084C11A003) is inspired by an eclectic fashion collection. The polished gold of the indicators and hour markers (well, actually the elements are gold-plated), the slate gray of the dial and body create a watch that looks like an ultimate fashion accessory that may get you in trouble with your parents if they are of a more traditional kind. If only it wasn't so small!
While there are many so-called "two tones" watches that feature combinations of greyish still or titanium (or some other metal including, but not limited to, platinum and zirconium) and different alloys of gold, there are only a few models that nail that perfect mix of colors and textures. Of course, this is purely a matter of personal tastes and preferences, but this Zenith El Primero Volcano Special Edition (Ref. 51.2040.400/91.C496) belongs precisely to that category. The color and finish of its dial, the shade of gold plated on its hands and hour markers, the way the sub-dials are grouped: everything in this model whispers quietly, but clear of good taste and superb design job.
With its new El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Rolling Stones Edition (ref. 03.2048.4061/77.C496), Zenith tries to appeal to hearts (as well as wallets and credit cards) of the baby boomers: those men and women in their sixties that remember the year 1969. Some of them actually saw Jimi Hendrix performing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock 1969, attended Led Zeppelin's Summer 1969 North American Tour, while the luckiest of them even managed to see at least one of 16 shows of The Rolling Stones American Tour 1969.
Most of you must remember the great (in all meanings of the word) Zenith Pilot Montre d'Aeronef Type 20 that was revealed about two years ago. Last year, the brand introduced a new version, albeit in a smaller (but still defiantly massive) body featuring a second time zone indicator. For the next year, the company delivered yet another version 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.
Previously restricted to their ultra-weird Defy Xtreme series, a lightweight carbon-fiber body is finally available for a more serene El Primero family. The 2013 Zenith El Primero Lightweight (Ref. 10.2260.4052W/98.R573) justifies its name not only with the high-tech material, which is usually reserved for the aerospace industry and motorsports but also with lots of titanium, as well as with extensive use of skeletonization techniques.
Limited to just 250 units, the new Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Rainbow automatic chronograph (Ref. 24.2063.405/21.R515) pays homage to the legendary 1997 Rainbow Flyback that was officially supplied to the French Air Force pilots. The 1997 model stayed in production for around four years and was limited to some four thousands units, give or take. In fact, the old model proved to be so popular among true connoisseurs that even now it is often offered at around $4000 for a piece, which is obviously far from "mint" condition. Now, tell me about synchronicities.
Japanese / Swiss
The year 2012 wasn't exactly rewarding for the better part of the population. Greece didn't default, Doomsday didn't happen and Valve yet again failed to deliver HL:3. However, there were certain bright spots, too: Spain emerged victorious in the 2012 UEFA Euro cup and the European politicians somehow managed to prevent collapse of the single currency. The watchmakers from Europe and Japan, too, managed to introduce a number of great watches, although there was nothing truly revolutionary neither in terms of design, nor technical characteristics (here I am talking about mass-produced models, not some ultra-expensive one-offs).