Zenith has always held a special place for me. From a rather young age, not long after large school, the brand inhabited a elite status in my mind. More specifically, it was and remains in my top two favorite brands of all-time, the other being Grand Seiko. In my head, they offered two fascinating sides into the same high-frequency coin. Where Grand Seiko possessed a certain austerity to it, a degree of refinement I found in few, if any other areas, Zenith was quite the opposite. And thus, my two favorite watch brands were selected: a controlled and sophisticated dress watch along with a wild, daring sports watch. Nevertheless the A273 itself had committed an offense: it had been provided during the exact same standard time period as the mythical tri-color El Primero. Unlike the El Primero, the A273 was powered by a beautiful, yet much less radical, hand wound movement. There it stayed, largely undetected even one of Zenith collectors, awaiting the time it also would obtain the El Primero.
Zenith came out of the shadow of its more noisy LVMH stablemates at Baselworld, with self-appointed CEO Jean-Claude Biver injecting fresh energy.
The headline-grabbing launch at the fair was the Defy El Primero 21, with its one hundredth of a second chronograph movement, but the most commercial piece is likely to be the Pilot Type 20 in 40mm, which is being promoted as a unisex timepiece.
The smaller case is made from steel that has been treated to make it look decades old, but a range of coloured dials and nubuck straps are thoroughly modern in hues of mustard, khaki, blue or burgundy.
Zenith says that the 40mm size suits every wrist. “Its more democratic dimensions continue to house the same original attributes: an in-house movement, a broad fluted crown and large luminescent Arabic numerals swept over by finely crafted hands. The new Pilot hails from an all-conquering lineage,” Zenith says.
The watch uses the Zenith Elite 679 in-house movement to drive central hours, minutes and seconds hands, while delivering a 50-hour power reserve.