Once the standard case material for inexpensive timepieces a century ago, just as pocket watches were evolving into wristwatches, sterling silver forms the watch case on the new Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver.
Style-wise the case is identical to Zenith’s standard pilot’s watches, measuring 45mm in diameter and fitted with an oversized onion-shaped crown. While the styling is inspired by early aviator’s watches of the 1930s, the material diverges from the theme as the vintage originals mostly had chrome-plated brass cases.
The sterling silver case has a fineness of 925, meaning it’s 92.5% silver by weight. The alloy is soft and prone to tarnishing from exposure to the atmosphere, resulting in a black patina that’s actually silver sulfide. Sterling silver cases are often plated with noble metals like rhodium or gold (to create vermeil) to prevent tarnishing, but here the aging is part of the appeal.
To match the aviation theme of the watch, the dial has a stamped pattern inspired by the riveted aluminium bodies of vintage aircraft, finished with a randomly brushed surface.
Inside is the Elite 679, a workhorse in-house automatic movement with a 50 hour power reserve.
Price and availability
The Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver (ref. 05.2430.679.17.C902) is limited to 250 pieces, priced at US$7700, or S$11,900. It’ll be available starting April 2019.
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