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Zenith Revamps Its Classic Pilot Watch Line with an Automatic and a Chronograph

Zenith Pilot Collection 0 Hero
Photo: Zenith

The Watches & Wonders trade show in Geneva brings out some of the most innovative and significant releases in the watch world each year. And this year is no different. However, in the midst of the crazy new movements and groundbreaking first-evers is a simple renovation of a century’s-old classic from Zenith with a modern twist.

Zenith Pilot Collection 1
Photo: Zenith

Patenting the name “Pilot” in 1888 — a decade and a half before the first successful powered air flight from the Wright brothers — Zenith has adorned the wrists of aviators since before it was trendy. Now, the Swiss icon has unveiled a revamp of the Pilot collection for a new generation. The base model is the 40mm Pilot Automatic, in either stainless steel or black ceramic cases, which features raised horizontal lines on the black dial and a date window at the 6 o’clock position. This is a simple three-hand display powered by the fairly-new El Primero 3620 movement, visible through the caseback. Allowing the Arabic numerals to pop a bit more, the glossy ribbed dial is inspired by the fuselages on old airplanes, which were made from corrugated aluminum.

Zenith Pilot Collection 2
Photo: Zenith

Joining the Pilot Automatic is the 42mm Pilot Big Date Flyback chronograph, also with steel or black ceramic case options, which is the first Big Date on a Pilot in about a decade. It sports a bicompax display on the black dial (also ribbed) and is powered by a brand-new movement in the way of the El Primero 3652 made specifically for this timepiece. As opposed to the black and white dial display on the ceramic chronograph, the steel version features a multi-colored ring around the 30-minute subdial. Both the Automatic and Big Date Flyback are housed in a redesigned case as well, with a large, flattened bezel and a vintage-inspired, onion-style crown.

Zenith Pilot Collection 3
Photo: Zenith

Understated in both aesthetic and mechanics, this is the first overhaul of the Pilot line in some time and we’re happy to see it. Available on Zenith’s website, the Automatic starts at $7,500 while the Big Date Flyback starts at $11,500.