Review Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Ton Up Black

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black
Reading Time: 6 minutes

There are many pilot watches out there. Somehow, Zenith manages to steal my heart every year with their Type 20. With a clear vintage presence and a large palette of colours, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 is a distinct appearance. At the end of SIHH 2019, I have visited Zenith and seen and photographed these two pieces: Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black. Here are my impressions.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

Hands-on review Zenith Pilot Type 20

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black were launched last year, during the SIHH week. While everyone was crazy about the El Primero 50 Years Anniversary, the launch of these two pilot watches passed almost unobserved. These two pilot watches while similar in many aspects are quite distinct and each with a particular theme.

  • Extra Special Blue – as the name suggests, there is an overall blue note with a warm contrast given by bronze and aeronautic theme:

  • Type 20 Ton Up Black bears a dark thematic with aged steel and motorcycling café racer motifs:

Type 20 – the case

I usually run away from watches over 41mm. I have a relatively small wrist and the 45mm case of the Type 20 sounds scary on paper. Looking at the entire package (including the extra big crown), these watches seem to be huge. And they are large, no question about it. But somehow Zenith managed to create, or better said – recreate the vintage feel of beginning of the century pilot watches in a sweet note.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue comes with a gorgeous retro-looking bronze case. While the appearance is made especially to look aged, the bronze does not yet bear its specific oxidation.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

The brushed look fits perfectly on this Type 20. Bended lugs, ratcheted wide Pilot crown and the domed sapphire crystal contributes to the retro look.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

As a traditional Pilot watch, the coding plate is screwed in case.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

The highway café racer style Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black comes in an aged stainless steel case. The case is treated to look like steel on the old industrial devices from the beginning of the 20th century.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

Again, the big onion crown and pilot identification plate create a genuine Pilot feeling. More images with the case, including some extra details can be seen in the gallery section of the article.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

Type 20 – sober dial

Even if it is a simple time-only three hands display, Type 20 has an interesting dial. A sober theme was used for the presented piece: matt blue and matt black.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

The Zenith Star and name governs the top surface of the dial. The lower side bears the “pilot” and Extra Special print. Type 20 is fitted with generous sized hour indexes. Shaped as Arabic numerals, the indexes are large luminescent block. Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

The outer chapter ring serves as minutes and seconds tracks with a combination of indices and Arabic numerals. The large cathedral hands are skeletonized, gold/black ruthenium-plated and coated with Super-LumiNova® SLN C1. The low light view is spectacular.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

The dark theme of the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black makes the Super-LumiNova pop out with dramatic contrast.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

Type 20 – caseback and movement

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black have different themes. The Extra Special Blue is fitted with titanium case-back is engraved with the hallmark Zenith flying instruments logo. The Ton Up Black pays a tribute to the café racer biker community (also known as Ton-up boys).

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue and Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 presented today are powered by the brand’s automatic Elite 679 calibre. The movement is largely used in the Pilot Type 20 Collection and in the Zenith Elite timepieces. Elite 679 is a modern 4Hz beater with a minimum of 50 hours power reserve. The calibre is hidden from the viewer so I cannot pronounce myself on the finishes. The press release mentions tough the oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” motif.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

Type 20 – pleasure and pain

While there are many beautiful pilots watches on the market and I like quite a few, after drawing the line, it remains just a few pieces that I would like to buy for my personal pleasure. Type 20 is one of the models I love at most. And here it comes – the issue of choosing the favourite. Taking just these two models into account there is enough uncertainty. I am drawn into the idea of a personal patina of the bronze case. But the aged steel looks so good. The blue dial gets perfectly chromatic with the bronze but the sobber black is gorgeous. So you see, it is hard to decide since both of them have their own particular beauty.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black

Zenith Pilot Type 20 is a surprizing watch. I wouldn’t expect to like how it sits on my wrist. But is nice and comfortable. I have enjoyed playing with them, having them on my wrist. You can see in the pictures above and below the difference in lighting and shades of the dials in full sunlight and in artificial light. Do you have a favourite?

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up BlackZenith Pilot Type 20 Technical Specifications

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Blue Ref. 29.2432.679/57.C808

KEY POINTS

  • Bronze Case that will develop his own patina
  • Case-back engraved with Zenith flying instruments logo
  • Inspired by the legendary Zenith aviation watches
  • Arabic numerals entirely made of Super-Luminova

MOVEMENT

  • Elite 679, Automatic
  • Calibre: 11 ½“` (Diameter: 25.60mm)
  • Movement thickness: 3.85mm
  • Components: 126
  • Jewels: 27
  • Frequency: 28,800 VpH (4Hz)
  • Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
  • Finishing: Oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” motif

FUNCTIONS

  • Hours and minutes in the centre
  • Central seconds hand

CASE, DIAL & HANDS

  • Diameter: 45mm
  • Diameter opening: 37.8mm
  • Thickness: 14.25mm
  • Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
  • Case-back: Titanium case-back with the Zenith flying instrument logo
  • Material: Bronze
  • Water-resistance: 10 ATM
  • Dial: Matt blue
  • Hour-markers: Arabic numerals in Super-Luminova SLN C1
  • Hands: Black ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova® SLN C1

STRAP & BUCKLE

  • Blue oily nubuck leather strap with protective rubber lining
  • Titanium pin buckle

PRICE

  • 7 300,00 €

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton Up Black Ref. 11.2432.679/21.C900

KEY POINTS

  • Aged stainless steel 45 mm case
  • Tribute to the Café Racer Spirit

MOVEMENT

  • Elite 679, Automatic
  • Calibre: 11 ½“` (Diameter: 25.60mm)
  • Movement thickness: 3.85mm
  • Components: 126
  • Jewels: 27
  • Frequency: 28,800 VpH (4Hz)
  • Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
  • Finishing: Oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” motif

FUNCTIONS

  • Hours and minutes in the centre
  • Central seconds hand

CASE, DIAL & HANDS

  • Diameter: 45mm
  • Diameter opening: 37.8mm
  • Thickness: 14.25mm
  • Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
  • Case-back: Case-back with Café Racer Spirit engravings
  • Material: Aged stainless steel
  • Water-resistance: 10 ATM
  • Dial: Matt black
  • Hour-markers: Arabic numerals in Super-Luminova SLN C1
  • Hands: Black ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova® SLN C1

STRAP & BUCKLE

  • Black oily nubuck leather strap with protective rubber lining
  • Titanium pin buckle

PRICE

  • 7 300,00 €

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Gallery

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