The Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 model combines the magic of a history-filled timepiece with a more classic 40 mm size. This unisex model carries all the pilot’s watch signature codes – hours, minutes and small seconds at 9 o’clock – framed by a steel case bearing on its side the HB letters typical of Swiss aviation registration systems, followed by a figure referring to the model’s series number.
Model: ZENITH Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 – 40mm
Elite 681, automatic
Calibre: 11½ “` (Diamètre: 25,6 mm)
Thickness: 3,47 mm
Frequency: 28’800 VpH – (4 Hz)
Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
Finishings: Oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” pattern.
Hours and minutes in the centre
Small seconds at 9 o’clock
Case, Dial & Hands
Material: Stainless steel
Diameter: 40 mm
Diameter opening: 32.5 mm
Thickness: 11.80 mm
Crystal: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Case-back: Zenith Flying Instruments logo
Water-resistance: 10 ATM
Dial: Matt black
Hour-markers: SuperLuminova SLN C1
Hands: Black ruthenium, satin-brushed
03.1930.681/21.C723: Brown calfskin leather strap with protective rubber lining and stainless steel pin buckle
About Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 Collection – 2013
The Manufacture Zenith, which has remained in the very same spot for almost a century and half, was an integral part of the early days in the amazing saga of aviation and was one of the first to supply onboard watches and instruments. Six new Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 watches, including a special series paying tribute to the Red Baron, echo the fundamental role played by Zenith in the conquest of the skies.
Since the pioneering days of aviation Louis Blériot and Léon Morane were acquainted with each other. The two famous pioneering aviators took part in the conquest of the skies in the early 20th century. On July 25th 1909, at the age of 37, Blériot flew across the Channel in a plane he had built: a world-first accomplishment. Less than a year later, 25 year-old Morane flew at more than 100 km/h at an air show in Reins, France – an unbelievable speed for the time.
His aircraft was a Blériot XI. The two men shared a passion for aviation as well as a taste for risks – and of course for competition. Not only that, but Louis Blériot and Léon Morane also owned an instrument that was a must-have for pilots, a Zenith watch that they regarded as the most accurate on the market.
Zenith thus made a decisive early entrance into the extraordinary adventure of aviation. First partnering some of the greatest pioneers, the Manufacture subsequently became one of the first onboard instrument manufacturers. Altimeters and onboard watches (montres d’aéronef ) intended for inflight use were supplied both to the military and to civilian airlines. Known among aeronautical industry manufacturers and professionals for its reliability, its sturdiness and its precision, the famous Zenith Type 20 appeared as of 1938 on the instrument panels of a number of planes – including the Caudron Simon C.635 used by the French Air Force as a training aircraft. Today’s Pilot collection is a worthy heir to these years of airborne glory and conquests.
The French term “montre d’aéronef” (onboard watch) is an apt name for these instruments specially developed for aviation, a field in which the conditions of use were considerably more demanding than elsewhere and severely tested the mechanisms.
The latter had to withstand sudden fluctuations in temperature, magnetic fields given off by the engines and the other flight instruments, occasionally violent vibrations, humidity, as well as changes in atmospheric pressure. Impeccable readability was also a must, and a large matt black dial provided the best possible contrast for the white luminescent-coated hands and other time indications.
The latter featured characteristic Arabic numerals and an oversized font. As far as wristwatches were concerned, operating them was considerably facilitated by a distinctive crown enabling gloved handling of the winding and setting functions.
All these requirements were part of the technical specifications developed in the mid- 1930s and which have evolved over the years in step with aviation technology. As of 1938, the specifications became known as “Type 20”. These professional watches regarded as survival instruments were regularly checked and maintained. In France, for example, they were supplied to the Air Force, the Naval Aviation and the Test Flight Centre.
Today, the Type 20-approved instruments produced at the time by only a handful of stringently selected manufacturers belong to the flight instrument hall of fame.