With the ease of which we take a plane to our destination today, it is hard to imagine that this was not always the case. The aviation pioneers that conquered the skies where all of a courageous breed, often taking off in machines that we would hardly even dare to call planes at this day and time. In this sentiment, Zenith created the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph, which will be part of their Heritage Collection. The conquest of the skies is very much part of Zenith’s brand identity as it was among the very first to assist the aviation pioneers with the production of altimeters and onboard clocks.
The titanium case-back of the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph shows the image of the plane Louis Blériot flew across the Channel in 1909, with a Zenith around his wrist. Since in the early days of aviation timekeeping played a major role in navigation, the demands were quite high. Precision, dependability, legibility and of course some sense of style, where highly-valued and the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph performs ample in all. In a technical sense, this is safeguarded by the El Primero caliber 4069. A legend in its own right, the El Primero movement has become synonymous with Zenith. This high-frequency chronograph movement allows measuring elapsed time with 1/10th-second accuracy, something that would have been appreciated by Blériot and his fellow aviators.
With a 45mm diameter, the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph is generously sized. Zenith puts it to good use by placing the sub-dials at the center and surround it by oversized, vintage-styled, Arabic numerals. Crafted from blocks of Super-LumiNova, they emit a green light in low-light conditions, making it easy to read and quite spectacular to admire. The equally vintage, and oversized, hands also play an important role in it, allowing to accurately read the time with a mere glance.
While a heating system was unfathomable in the early days of aviation, not many people today will operate a watch with gloves on. That the oversized pushers and onion crown of the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph are still designed to do so is one of the details that makes this watch such a nice, and complete, experience. The bronze case will start to show a unique patina over time, which will enhance the vintage appeal of the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph even further. Of course, a watch like this should be secured on your wrist with a khaki green oily nubuck leather strap. Some might be surprised by the rubber lining of the strap. While this not only increases wearing comfort, it also complements the fact that with a 100-meter water resistance rating, the Pilot Extra Special Chronograph might feel at home in the skies, but isn’t afraid of the water either.