Baselworld 2013: Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT, including Red Baron limited edition (live pictures, specs and price)

Equipped with the Elite automatic movement, the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT is a dual time zone watch styled like a vintage pilot’s timepiece.

After the surprising success of the enormous 57.5 mm Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 last year, Zenith has created a whole new Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 collection. The new line includes the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT, a well conceived dual time zone watch. Local time is indicated by cathedral hour and minute hands, while the second time zone uses a large red tipped skeleton hand on a 24 hour scale. This is legible and easy to use, but it is missing a date, which is useful on a travel watch. That being said, a date window would utterly ruin the clean aesthetics of the dial.

Despite the case being 48 mm, it appears smaller on the wrist and wears well thanks to the short and curved lugs. And the serial number of the watch is engraved on the side of the case on a plate secured by twin blued screws.

The back has the Zenith aviation logo in relief, depicting Louis Bleriot’s aircraft which he used to make the first ever flight across the English Channel in 1909 – wearing his Zenith wristwatch of course.

Though this shows the case back of another Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 model, all of them have identical case backs

The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT is powered by the Elite cal. 693 movement with 50 hours power reserve.  Two versions are available, one in steel on a brown leather strap, which retails for CHF7200 inclusive of 8% Swiss tax (about USD7600). This version looks most like a traditional pilot’s watch.

And the other is the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT Red Baron, named after Manfred von Richthofen, the legendary German flying ace of the First World War. 

Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT Red Baron

Limited to 500 pieces, the GMT Red Baron has a titanium case coated with DLC, while the case back depicts the Red Baron’s Fokker Dr.I triplane in relief. Retail for this is CHF7800, or about USD8300. – SJX

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Hands-on with the Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Rainbow – the prodigal son returns (live photos and pricing)

The Zenith Rainbow has returned as the El Primero Stratos Flyback Rainbow Boutique Edition. Retaining its trademark multi-coloured dial, the new Rainbow chronograph is limited to 250 pieces.

The strikingly coloured Zenith Rainbow Flyback was one of the most memorable Zenith watches of the nineties, even if the rest of the line was visually forgettable. This year Zenith brings back the bright colours of the Rainbow as the El Primero Stratos Flyback Rainbow Boutique Edition, which stand out even more against the all black case.

Made of TiAlum, a lightweight aluminium based alloy often used in aircraft, the new Stratos Rainbow has a redesigned dial – an important detail.

Unlike the earlier Stratos chronographs where all the sub-dials were identically sized, resulting in overlapping, making them impossible to read at certain times, the Stratos Rainbow has a smaller hour counter at six o’clock. None of the counters overlap and so the chronograph is usable all of the time.

The TiAlum case is 45.5 mm wide with a ceramic insert in the bezel, and has a sapphire display back. This is limited to 250 pieces, and will only be available at Zenith boutiques. The retail price is CHF8000, inclusive of Swiss VAT of 8%. That works out to about USD8500.


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Baselworld 2013: Chopard’s lavish USB stick – the Caliber USB 01.01-L

At Baselworld 2013, Chopard is disseminating its press kits via USB stick machined and finished like the bridge of a watch movement.

The 8 GB USB stick is in rhodium plated brass with gilded, engraved lettering. Measuring 39 mm in diameter and 10 mm high, the USB key is as large as some watches. With bevelled edges and a top surface decorated with Geneva stripes, the USB key is finished like the bridge of a watch movement. Both halves of the USB key are secured with polished screw heads, which Chopard says is “in harmony with the aesthetic criteria of the Poinçon de Genève quality hallmark”, no less.

This is a numbered limited edition of 2000 pieces with an 8 GB memory. Beautiful as it is, the whole affair seems to be a waste of watchmaking skill on something so ephemeral.


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Baselworld 2013: Chopard LUC Perpetual T – tourbillon with perpetual calendar and 9 days power reserve

One of the most complicated Chopard LUC timepieces, the LUC Perpetual T is perpetual calendar with tourbillon, and more than a week’s worth of power reserve.

Made in-house by Chopard like all the rest of the LUC line, the Perpetual T is Chopard’s flagship timepiece for Baselworld 2013. Building on the movement of the even more complicated LUC All-in-One, the Perpetual T has a perpetual calendar with large date display, though no moon phase.  The sub-dial at nine o’clock shows the day of the week, and day and night display, while the one across indicates the leap year and month.

At six o’clock is the tourbillon regulator, with Chopard’s distinctive shuriken-shaped tourbillon cage. The Perpetual T is a COSC certified chronometer. The movement has four barrels, and a nine day power reserve. Like the other top-end LUC watches it is beautifully finished, and has the Geneva Seal.

LUC cal. 02.15-L
The dial side of the movement

The rose gold case is 43 mm wide and features a silver-plated solid gold dial. – SJX

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Baselworld 2013: Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean GMT GoodPlanet

The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet, a 600 m dive watch with second time zone function, aims to help conservation projects in South-East Asia.

Part of the proceeds from the sale of the Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet will go to the GoodPlanet Foundation. Specifically they will go to help conservation of mangroves in South-East Asia. Typically the blue dial Planet Ocean watches have titanium cases, but that’s not the case (no pun intended) for this special edition. The Omega Seamaster Planet Ocean 600M GoodPlanet has a 43.5 mm steel case with a blue dial and bezel, with orange accents. It is water resistant to 600 m and features a helium escape valve at ten o’clock of the case.

Equipped with the Si14 silicon hairspring, the Omega Co-Axial cal. 8605 is visible through the sapphire back. – SJX

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Baselworld 2013: Omega Speedmaster in black ceramic “Dark Side of the Moon”

Omega has unveiled a Speedmaster chronograph in black ceramic, "The Dark Side of the Moon", equipped with its in-house cal. 9300.

For the first time the Omega Speedmaster is available in black ceramic, or zirconium oxide (hence the subtle “ZrO2” on the dial). Known as “The Dark Side of the Moon”, a pun on the original Speedmaster’s status as the first watch worn on the moon, the new Speedmaster is entirely in black ceramic, case, bezel and dial.

The ceramic case is in the traditional Speedmaster style with its signature lyre lugs. And like the metal case versions of the Speedmaster, the ceramic case has both brushed and polished surfaces.

Both the 12 hour and 60 minutes elapsed counters are co-axial in the sub-dial at three o’clock, and all the hands – hours, minutes and chronograph – are in white gold. And inside is the cal. 9300 movement which has a column wheel and Omega’s own Si14 silicon hairspring.

“ZrO2” at 12 o’clock, and the co-axial hour and minute counters

The case is 44.25 mm wide, water resistant to 50 m and fitted with a box type sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating on both sides. It is fitted to a Cordura fabric strap with black ceramic buckle.

While I find most black ceramic watches passe today, this one is attractive – it has the Speedmaster cachet, an striking appearance due to the case material, as well as the cal. 9300 movement.


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Baselworld 2013: Sinn TESTAF pilot’s watches

Sinn has unveiled its first timepieces with the TESTAF certification, comprising the 103 Ti, 103 Ti UTC, 857 UTC and EZM 10.


Created by the Faculty of Aerospace Technology at the Aachen University of Applied Sciences (FH), following a suggestion by by Sinn’s owner, Lothar Schmidt, in 2008, TESTAF (Technischer Standard Fliegeruhren, or “technical standards for pilot’s watches) is a set of objective criteria for pilot’s watches.  FH Aachen tests and certifies each watch marked TESTAF to ensure it meets standards of functionality, toughness and reliability. Amongst other things, TESTAF tests for G-force resistance, and functioning in extreme temperatures. Real world testing was conducted as well, with two Sinn TESTAF watches, the EZM10 and 103 Ti, used for the maiden flight of the Eurocopter EC145 T2, which saw the helicopter fly from the desert of Arizona to the chilly expanses of the Northwest Territory of Canada.

The TESTAF logo on the dial of each certified watch

Notably, though Sinn was responsible for the creation of TESTAF, the certification is independently done by FH Aachen and can be obtained by any series watch that qualifies. FH Aachen conducts the tests and charges a fee of €8000 for certifying between 100 to 1000 watches. Fellow German watch brand Stowa is also rolling out its own certified pilot’s watch, the Flieger FO1 TESTAF. Every certified watch can have the TESTAF logo on its case or dial.

TESTAF certificate for EZM10 signed by Prof. Dr.-Ing. Frank Janser, head of the Faculty of Aerospace Technology at FH Aachen

Several models have received the inaugural TESTAF certification, including the classic Sinn pilot’s chronograph, the 103 Ti TESTAF . This has a 41 mm titanium case with Argon dehumidifying module, with a Valjoux 7750 inside.


Argon capsule in lower left lug

It is also available as the 103 Ti UTC TESTAF  with second time zone indicator, which is identical to the 103 Ti except it has an additional white, skeleton second time zone hand.


Also with a second time zone is the 857 UTC TESTAF. This has a ETA 2893 with second time zone display. The case is 43 mm in Tegiment steel, which has been surface hardened with Sinn’s proprietary tempering process. And it also has the Ar-Dehumidifying technology.


Last is the EZM 10 TESTAF. The EZM 10 is Sinn’s top of the line pilot’s watch with a 46.5 mm titanium case. Inside is the SZ01, a Valjoux 7750 movement that has undergone major modification by Sinn to feature a central elapsed minute counter as well as a 24 hour indicator. In other words it is a Valjoux made to have the same functions as the Lemania 5100.


The EZM10 TESTAF has all the bells and whistles that Sinn offers: Ar-Dehumidifying technology, Tegiment titanium case and lubrication free DIAPAL escapement. All the TESTAF models are available with matching metal bracelet, leather or rubber strap. – SJX

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