From 1939 onwards, the Zenith Montre d’Aéronef Type 20, with its 36-hour power reserve, was standard equipment on most French planes. Lauded by aviation builders and professionals for its reliability, sturdiness and accuracy, it appeared on the instrument panels of many airplanes, in particular the Caudron Simoun C.635 models used by the French Army for training and by the Air Bleu postal company for international and transatlantic routes.
|Historical Montre d Aeronef Type 20|
Its case, made of a light alloy, could be attached to the instrument panel and included an easy-to handle knurled bezel for winding and setting the watch. The dark dial was ringed with heavily-coated luminous numerals, giving the important criterion of visibility its due. The small seconds dial was at 6 o’clock, while the equally luminous hour and minute hands left no doubt as to the time displayed. The mechanical movement had a bimetallic balance wheel coupled with a self compensating, anti-magnetic hairspring and a Swiss lever escapement– all solutions that met aviation’s need for reliability and accuracy.
Introduced in 2012 new Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 wristwatch learns from the past to update the technical triumphs and reinterpret the codes of a high-flying success.
Its outsized 57.5 mm-diameter case is in proportion to the great aviation feats of the early 20th century. A vibrant tribute to the free-spirited pioneers of the skies, it is the very essence of infinite, unlimited time – mirroring the greatest discoveries. Like the skies that beg to be conquered, it chooses to anchor time in a large space, confidently letting the hours tick away. The 57.5 mm-diameter case, made of titanium to offset the weight of the movement it contains, has the qualities of an instrument that was born to fly.
The notched crown is reminiscent of those on antique aviator watches, which allowed pilots to set the watch without taking off their gloves. The 27 mm space between the lugs accentuates the shape of the extremely refined lugs that attach an antiqued leather strap sewn and topstitched entirely by hand. Adding to the vintage feel is the black dial which is easily readable thanks to luminous elements. Beneath the impressive sapphire crystal (glare-proofed on both sides), the raised numerals of the chapter ring are made of entire blocks of Superluminova. The time is indicated by hands that are also enhanced with luminescent material.
The visually balanced counters display the small seconds at 9 o’clock and the power reserve at 3 o’clock. The aesthetics serve mainly to make reading the time easier, recalling the functional approach taken in traditional aviator watches.
The transparent caseback reveals the mechanical hand-wound 5011K movement. Its 50 mm diameter leaves room for exceptional finishes, such as 19 jewels and the broad linear Côtes de Genève that grace the rhodium-plated bridges. This COSC-certified chronometer comes with a pedigree to match its beauty: it contains the famous 5011 pocket calibre that was so successful for Zenith in the 1960s – and in 1967 was named the most accurate chronometer ever tested by the Neuchatel Observatory. The calibre has been in continuous production since then and has been used in competition timepieces, marine chronometers, pocket watches, and watchmaking school watches.
Oscillating at 18,000 vibrations per hour, the 5011 calibre has a separate mechanism for stopping the seconds hand and synchronising the hour. It features shock-absorbers on the balance-wheel and escapement arbors, fine adjustment, and a self-compensating anti-magnetic Breguet overcoil balance spring, as well as a mobile stud-holder, double-arrow index regulator, and the Zenith winding-crown stem attachment system. All these assets combine to ensure that the watch gives a first-rate performance without losing its vintage feel.
Model: Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20
250-piece limited series
Calibre 5011K, hand-wound
Total diameter 50 mm
Thickness 10 mm
Cadence of the balance 18,000 vph
48-hour power reserve
Chronometer-certified by the COSC
Central hours and minutes
Small seconds at 9 o’clock
Power-reserve indication at 3 o’clock
Polished and satin-brushed grade 5 titanium
Diameter 57.5 mm
Water resistance 3 ATM
Sapphire crystal caseback
Matt black with Superluminova-enhanced hands and numerals
Calfskin with hand-sewn topstitching, titanium pin buckle