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.
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!
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.
For the year 2014, 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.
This new Zenith Pilot Big Date (Ref. 03.2410.4010/21.C722) self-winding chronograph sports a deliciously mid-sized stainless steel body that will look perfect not only with a worn-leather bomber jacket and a three-day stubble but also with a custom-tailored business suit.
It looks like the year 2012 will be remembered by many as the year of “world timers”. Right after the stunning Transocean Chronograph Unitime by Breitling, somewhat ascetic Pilot Worldtimer (Ref. IW326201) by IWC, and the special edition World Timer ALT1 Automatic UTC by Bremont, the Swiss watchmaker Zenith offers its new Pilot Doublematic family that is available both in stainless steel (Ref. 03.2400.4046/21.C721, which is reviewed here) and more expensive 18-karat rose gold cases. The collection was revealed a couple of weeks ago during the Baselworld 2012 event.
The new Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 (Ref. 27.03.0138.940) is equipped with a new self-winding chronograph caliber that was specifically re-engineered in order to move its “heart,” the balance wheel that beats at 10 vibrations per second, to a less usual position between 10 and 11 o’clock.
The 2011 Chaumet Dandy Chronograph XL El Primero automatic features a mid-sized precious case and an iconic Zenith movement beating at an impressive speed of 36,000 vibrations per hour.
The 2010 Zenith Elite Captain Central Second (ref. 18.2020.670/01.C498) belongs to the rare breed of (relatively) affordable dressy timekeepers powered by superbly-designed in-house movements. Not as technically impressive as their “high-beat” models, it is still a good alternative to a similarly styled three-hander from ultra-luxury brands like Jaeger-LeCoultre.