Throwback Thursday: The Zenith Type 20 and the Louis Blériot Watch

The historic Louis Blériot Watch.
The historic Louis Blériot Watch.

Zenith created watches for pilots beginning in the early 1900s, one of whom was famous aviator Louis Blériot, the first man to fly across the English Channel, in 1909. His navigational instrument of choice was a Zenith timepiece, about which he raved, “I am very satisfied with my Zenith watch that I generally use and I cannot but recommend it to all those with a concern for precision.” The watch Zenith had created for him was a forerunner of the brand’s iconic Type 20 pilot’s watch, which was developed  in the 1930s (launched in 1938) according to certain aviation standards: it had to have a crown built for gloved handling, a large dial, an oversized Arabic numeral font and plenty of luminescent coating. It also had to withstand fluctuations in temperature and atmospheric pressure, magnetic fields and violent jolts. This standard became known as “Type 20.” The watch that belonged to Louis Blériot had an impressive grooved crown as well as luminous hands and numerals, typical of aviator watches of the day.Blériot's letter proclaiming the precision of his Zenith pilot's watch.

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