To refer to this new Pilots line as a revision or makeover would be to disregard the reality that nearly every component of the watch is new, both to the collection and the brand as a whole. We have a new case, new crown, new dials, new straps, and, in the case of the chronographs, a new mechanism aside from the Zenith star and the Pilot inscription.
The stainless steel model is offered in brushed and polished stainless steel accents. Given that earlier models were 45mm, the new 40mm case is a nice improvement. Just like what happened in the market, most of the top watches brands are reducing the size of their iconic collection. Meanwhile the ceramic version crafted in a 40mm black ceramic case, the Pilot Automatic features an entirely new case design with a distinct flat-top round bezel fixed on top of the rounded case. The black ceramic version is entirely microblasted for a stealthy matte finish.
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The case has a redesigned pilot’s crown, box sapphire crystals, and 100m of water resistance. However, unlike Zenith’s previous pilots, it isn’t huge and is instead perfectly proportionate to the case. It was also updated with fewer lines, giving it a more minimalistic, sleeker appearance. Of course, like the pushers on the chronograph, it’s still simple to hold and use.
The dial includes large, applied Arabic numerals that are filled with Super-LumiNova, as are the hands. The typeface is sans-serif and contemporary, which companies as diverse as Daniel Roth and IWC have chosen. It’s difficult to argue for anything other than this typeface for a modern take on a pilot watch. The numbers are large and prominent, but this, like other aspects of a pilot’s watch, can be described in one word: readability.
A date is displayed at 6 o’clock, immediately beneath a horizontal line that is supposed to evoke the artificial horizon instruments on a plane’s dashboard, which are designed to assist the pilot in understanding their orientation relative to the Earth’s horizon.
This model is powered by the El Primero 3620 high-frequency manufacture movement, which delivers a power reserve of 60 hours when fully wound. The winding mechanism’s open and blackened oscillating weight recalling the archetypal and essential “artificial horizon” dashboard instrument. Delivered with interchangeable black cordura-effect rubber and brown calfskin leather straps, a second strap is offered to fully experience the interchangeability of the watch.