Zenith, which for decades has been the only watch brand allowed to place the word “Pilot” on a watch dial, is welcoming four versions of the first model devoted to women in its well-known Pilot collection. And to mark this auspicious occasion—and, in fact, to heighten its auspiciousness—a little history about Zenith and its role in aeronautics is in order.
Quick Look Back
Since the early 1900s, Zenith has been producing flight instruments for planes and airships of the earliest aviation pioneers, earning the company’s products the reputation of a most-necessary accessory. As examples, Louis Blériot wore a Zenith watch when he flew over the English Channel in 1909. So, too, Léon Morane, who became the first pilot to reach an air speed of more than 100 km/h just a year later. In the 1930s and 1940s, the Montre d’Aéronef Zenith Type 20 was onboard a number of aircraft, including the Caudron Simoun C.635 planes of the French air force and Air Bleu mail planes.
New For Women
It seemed just a matter of time before the legendary Pilot Montre d’Aéronef, with its sturdy, masculine looks, would give a nod to women in the form of their very own watch. And this has come to pass with the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 “40 mm Lady.” In my opinion, this is no ordinary women’s version of a men’s watch. Rather, it embraces all the details that make the Pilot collection such a winner, while adding more feminine attributes like diamonds and ladylike straps.
At first I wondered how the juxtaposition of such an intrinsically masculine watch with gemstones and satin strap variations would work. But I’m pleased to say that the melding of bold styling with a flirty sparkle works wonderfully well—kind of like high heels with your favorite jeans. And who doesn’t like that?
The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 “40 mm Lady” is equipped with that unmistakable ratcheted crown, and the Zenith aviation instruments logo is engraved on the case back. In the full-set versions, which come in rose or white gold, the dial, bezel and lugs are embellished with about 3 carats of diamonds—no less than 491 of them in all. And resting atop this glittering display are the originally styled and large SuperLuminova-coated Arabic numerals. The indexes are black on the white gold model and white on the rose gold piece. The stylized hands also feature SuperLuminova coating.
Inside is the automatic Elite 681 movement that drives the central hours and minutes, as well as the seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, which engagingly obstructs the numerals in its vicinity. The 128-component caliber has an oscillating weight with Côtes de Genève engraving and a power reserve of 50 hours. A beige or black satin strap with a gold pin buckle completes it: black for the steel watch and white for the rose gold.
The bezel-only diamond-set version of the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 “40 mm Lady” retains the features of its fully diamond-set cousin, including the engraving on the case back. It comes in steel or rose gold, and foregoes the satin straps for brown alligator leather with a super-comfortable rubber lining. The opaline silver dial has the signature large Arabic numerals that in this case are beige with SuperLuminova-coated details. The hands are satin-brushed rhodium on the steel version and rose gold plate on the rose gold watch, and they, too, feature SuperLuminova detailing.