In the 1950’s the Italian Armed Forces were looking for a new chronograph to be worn by the pilots of the Aeronautica Militare Italiana and the Matricola Militare, which flew Lockheed F104 Starfighter. They decided to go with Zenith and placed an order through the Manufacture’s Rome-based distributor, A. Cairelli. That watch, of which 2.500 pieces were made, became the stuff of legends and is one of the most desirable vintage pilot chronographs.
No wonder that Zenith felt the need to bring a modern version of it into the world, limited to only 1.000 pieces. Challenging, as these type of watches always need to be approached with respect. Zenith does not disappoint in that way, at all. First of all, they acknowledged the original diameter of the watch, although it probably helped that this was an already very modern 43mm. With a height of only 12.85mm, it is a comfortable watch to wear, yet with a focus on legibility.
Unlike its predecessor, the new Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2 is not fitted with a manual wind chronograph movement, but (I should say of course) features an El Primero. Caliber 4069 gives you automatic winding, a power reserve of 50-hours and a column wheel to ensure precise operation of the chronograph. Of course, the movement runs at 5Hz, or the coveted 36.000 bhp, which is what the El Primero is so famous for.
More modern additions to this watch are also the sapphire crystal with an anti-reflective coating, as well as the water resistance of 100 meters, which is generous for a pilot chronograph. But the majority of the watch stays pleasantly old school, and the one that I appreciate the most is the lack of the date window. It keeps the watch very pure, and that is exactly what you want. It also makes this Zenith Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2, a historical homage well done!