Introducing the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903, a vintage-style pilot’s watch (with specs and pricing)

Created to commemorate aviation pioneers the Wright brothers and their 1903 flight, the new Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 is a limited edition with a DLC coated titanium case and faux vintage Luminova.

In December 1903, the Wright brothers took to the air in their wood and fabric aircraft at Kitty Hawk beach in North Carolina, USA. Over several attempts they eventually flew several hundred feet, making aviation history. Zenith commemorates this event with the new, limited edition Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903. Based on the ordinary Type 20 GMT, the 1903 edition has the same second time zone function which is advanced in one hour increments with the pusher at 10 o’clock. However, it differs from the regular edition in two key aspects. One is the case, which is diamond-like carbon (DLC) coated titanium.  The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 has the same 48 mm case as the rest of the Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 line, which includes the Type 20 Annual Calendar and even a tourbillon chronograph. Though large the case sits well on the wrist because of the short and downward angled lugs.

The other detail unique to the 1903 edition is the dial, which has faux aged Luminova. Zenith calls this “old radium” as it is meant to recall the colour of aged radium dials from the early twentieth century. This effect is created by first printing the numbers in “old radium” style, creating the variegated brown marbling, followed by applying ivory-coloured Luminova on top. The “old radium” lume is somewhat affected and artificial, but it goes well with the aesthetic of the watch.

Inside is the Elite cal. 693, which is essentially the El Primero movement with the chronograph mechanism removed. The cal. 693 is automatic with a 50 hour power reserve.  The solid case back has a stamped relief depicting the Wright brothers on their 1903 flight, with Orville on board the aircraft and Wilbur running alongside.

The case back medallion

The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 is presented on a tan nubuck strap with a back pad, a style borrowed from the so-called Bund straps (short for Bundeswehr, or Federal Defence) used by the German airforce. The purpose of the back pad is to prevent the watch case back, which can get uncomfortably cold at high altitudes, from touching the pilot’s wrist. Limited to 1903 pieces, the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 GMT 1903 has a retail price of 7800 Swiss francs before taxes, equivalent to about US$8600. – SJX Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for updates and news.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

SIHH 2014: Hands-on with the new Cartier Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton and its rose gold and ruthenium movement (with live photos and price)

Cartier has now given its signature skeleton movement a striking new aesthetic with dark ruthenium bridges highlighted by gilded bevels, which will be presented for the first time in the Tank MC at SIHH 2014.

Last year Cartier took the covers off the latest addition to its century-old Tank family, the Tank MC. Equipped with the 1904 MC, the base model Tank MC is the accessibly priced entry into Cartier’s proprietary movements. At SIHH later this month Cartier will unveil a new Tank MC at the other end of the spectrum, the Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton with a striking ruthenium and pink gold movemen.

The Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton is mechanically identical to the earlier version in palladium, but it boasts a striking new aesthetic for the movement. All the brushed, top surfaces of the bridges and main plate are ruthenium coated, giving them a dark grey colour. But the polished bevels and brushed flanks are plated in pink gold, providing a stark contrast to the ruthenium surfaces.

(The watch pictured is a prototype so the movement has blemishes.)

The pink gold finish highlights the shape of the base plate, which is skeletonised into the form of large Roman numerals. And it also makes the highly polished bevels more prominent.

This contrasting movement finish is not new as it has been used elsewhere, but it works particularly well with this skeletonised calibre, the 9619 MC.

It is accomplished in five steps, starting with plating the entire bridge and main plate in pink gold. Then the bevels and flanks are covered with masking, following by applying a brushed finished to the top surfaces. Ruthenium plating on the brush surfaces follows. And lastly the masking is removed, resulting in the two-tone finish.

The Tank MC Two-Tone Skeleton will retail for €36,500, or about US$49,700, before taxes. And it is also available in pink gold with diamonds for €64,500, equivalent to about US$87,800.

Follow us on FacebookInstagram and Twitter for updates and news.

Back to top.

You may also enjoy these.

Welcome to the new Watches By SJX.

Subscribe to get the latest articles and reviews delivered to your inbox.