Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

If you've been longing for something "extra special," Zenith has you covered with a whole line of aviation-themed watches that includes the new-for-2017 Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph in bronze. It appears to have a lot going for it as well: bronze case, giant onion crown and pushers, huge luminescent numerals, and a trusty high-beat El Primero movement. Pricing is borderline tempting as well.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Zenith has been a bit all over the place lately, but something we all appreciated was its getting more creative with its pilot watches as well as bronze as a case material. Consequently, it was – we had hoped – only a matter of time before these came together in a Zenith watch in a way that made sense. At 45mm wide, the Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph is big, but not as unrealistically and ridiculously so as, say, this bad boy from two years ago. For a chronograph, the case is a manageable 14.25mm thick, and it features a domed sapphire crystal with AR coating on both sides, sports a solid titanium case back with the Zenith flying instruments logo, and has two large pushers and a massive onion crown to go with the aviation theme, all crafted from bronze.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

We have discussed pilot's watches so many times that, at this point, we feel comfortable with simply saying that Zenith appears to have really nailed it with this latest piece – finally. The Super-LumiNova C1 Arabic numerals and the long and wide, gold-plated hands all enforce the aviation theme while a fun fact to bear in mind is that I recall Zenith to be the only watch brand to have trademarked the use of the word "Pilot" on its watch faces. We'll ask Zenith whether that trademark is still in effect or not, but Zenith has for long been the only one allowed to designate something a pilot's watch on its dial.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

On a side note, this particular Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph perpetuates what seems to be a recent trend in luxury watches and that is doubling up on names and other bragging rights. While there really isn't much text on the dial, 2 out of 4 lines are dedicated to convincing us that this really is a "Montre d'Aeronef" or "Pilot" watch. We get it, Zenith.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

In Zenith's images, the dial either shows up satin dark or, as in the image above, as a surface with some finely grained, partly reflective coating on it. The way this works with the rest of the dial elements as well as the bronze case could really make or break the overall design, which is yet another reason I personally am looking forward to seeing this watch in the metal at BaselWorld soon.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Bronze, while hardly a frequently used material for pilot's watches in general, unquestionably is a popular material these days and, being as rugged and relatively unrefined on the surface, it truly does look its best when used for such utilitarian designs. Water resistance is a most welcome 100 meters (should be the industry standard on any watch that costs more than $300, but it isn't, so we highlight it), so if you take this swimming you only need to consider the oxidation of the case – but not worry about water getting in it.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

The movement is the 4069 variant of the El Primero, it measures 30mm wide, is 6.6mm, has 254 components including a column wheel and, but of course, runs at 5Hz for approximately 50 hours. It's decorated in the usual Zenith fashion, but you won't see that due to the solid titanium case-back.

Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph Watch Watch Releases

Sold on an oiled green nubuck leather strap with rubber lining, the Zenith Heritage Pilot Extra Special Chronograph will be priced at $7,100 – that's $1,500 less than this 38mm Zenith El Primero Original 1969 watch in steel that has a pretty much identical movement but with a steel case. That massive price difference clearly indicates Zenith scaling back on pricing, and that's a good thing. zenith-watches.com

What do you think?
  • Interesting (38)
  • I want it! (32)
  • Thumbs up (14)
  • I love it! (13)
  • Classy (7)
  • PleaseSpellRoman4AsIV

    After all the crying when JCB took over it seems that Zenith is indeed heading in the right direction. Having said that bronze is not really my cup of tea.

  • OmniWrench

    Honest, somewhat silly question about all these bronze watches, now that I’m starting to see some I like.

    Does the bronze… smell?

    I’m having memories of band class and that smell the instruments tended to take on after use. I’m assuming it doesn’t apply in cases like this… It admitadly seems unlikely that a multi-thousand dollar dollar watch would smell like high-school band class, but I’ve yet to see a bronze watch in person and the question has been nagging at me.

    • IG

      That was the smell of the mouths of band members.

    • johnwithanh

      Similar to IG’s comments that smell was the result of poorly maintained brass instruments. However, any material would start to smell, uh, distinct, if you subjected it to a bunch of warm and moist air propelled into a semi-enclosed dark place. Especially if that air came from the mouths of teenagers, who are gross.

      Ya gotta wash those things out every once in a while!

  • K MC

    4, 5, G, 7, 8, ….upside down G, 10

    • IG

      Turkish ? ou, Turkish ? Turkish ?, Turkish ? zed

  • Marius

    Although I’m not a fan of bronze watches, I have to say that this is a tremendous watch.

    It has a bold design, a very cool bronze case, an attractive and legible dial, and an iconic El Primero movement. What’s more, it offers great value at $7,000. At this price, I seriously doubt that you could find a similar value proposition. For comparison, the IWC Pilot’s Chronograph costs around $6,000, but keep in mind that it uses a 7750 caliber, and it comes in a steel case. On the other hand, a steel Breitling Navitimer uses the B01 in house movement, but it costs $9,000. In my opinion, at the $7,000 price point, it’s practically impossible to find a cooler watch than this Zenith.

    • Gokart Mozart

      Agree this is a very nice watch and I like the way they did the pushers. Way, way better than the Breitlings in my opinion, and plus the Zenith is not a Breitling.

      It would be nice if they did it in a 40mm and it can be for Lady Pilots.

  • Word Merchant

    Lovely. They need to remove the odd etching from the case back and just leave it plain. That’s all.

  • SuperStrapper

    There is a very good chance I’m going to buy this one; there is little about it I would change, and the bulk of that would be the caseback.

    There are certainly 2 different dials on display in this article, and I would hope that the textured one is the iteration that makes the final cut.

    Can’t wait to try it on.

  • otaking241

    Like the watch but that handset looks almost comically oversized–note how they actually appear to taper at the base? That and the caseback mar what would otherwise be a very attractive package overall.

  • I like the look of these but I don’t think a “heritage” pilot watch should have a chrono

    Also the El Primero calibre is great but at 30mm it is absolutely dwarfed by the case. I do not like movements being used that are so clearly designed for smaller cases.

    For me, the far better pocketwatch-conversion pilot watches (aside from the vintages) are the three handers (allow GMT and PR indication) with fuller movements. So those massive Zenith Type 20’s, and in particular the IWC Big Pilots, which have a much better movement/case ratio.

    • BrJean

      I agree on the importance of caliber & case sizing. Good thing they used a solid caseback here otherwise it would look quite silly!

      P.S. I purchased your book a couple of days ago and it’s really awesome. Me and my family enjoying it a lot!

      • Why thank you for the feedback sir! I quite like the Zenith pilot in my Power chapter – although you would crash a plane trying to read the time…

  • “Zenith I recall to be the only watch brand that can legally use “Pilot” on its watch faces for historical reasons.”

    This can’t actually be correct. Where do watch myths like this come from?


    • David Bredan

      Any time I’m not absolutely sure about something I say so – everything else you read from me stated as a fact I do fact check multiple times to be correct. If I manage to recall (trying very hard) where I heard/read this, I’ll add in a comment here and in the article.

      • David Bredan

        Took me 5 minutes to find it: Zenith has trademarked the term “Pilot” for watches and I do recall Dufour mentioning that. Whether the trademark is still in effect or not I’m not entirely sure, but that’s what I remembered. Thanks for challenging it, though – I’ll update the article.

        • David your work is very thorough, and we have to work extremely hard to call you up on stuff…

          • G Street

            There is his choice of footwear….

          • David Bredan

            Hahaha! I do love me some funky shoes, that the Kind Readership will have to humor me every once in a while 😉

        • Sorry, David, I wasn’t trying to “call you out”, it just struck me as one of those things you hear bandied about watch forums without any real validity.

          • David Bredan

            Haha, thank you both for your kind words. It’s just so important to me (and everyone at team aBlogtoWatch) to be clear and accurate. No smoke & mirrors and no unearned or unnecessary superlatives… Thanks again for your comments!

    • Gokart Mozart

      Lovely Vulcain. Not comparing apples to apples but I prefer the vulcain especially with the standard steel case

  • Michaelstocky

    Really enjoy the case back detail here

  • Raymond Wilkie

    i like this, .i really do , it’s super manly and stuff, and i can pretend am a pilot, it says it right there on the face ! . The bronze is a touch dull,.not a fan and the face is a bit rough looking. I wouldn’t buy it , bit overpriced but i would wear it.

    • IG

      I wait for the Zenith diver watch named “DIVER” on the dial and a dress watch with “DRESS” on it.

    • He’s back guys, and he’s clearly feeling rejuvenated!

  • DanW94

    Pilot themed be damned, that’s one comically sized crown!!

    • I’m not crying, it’s the onion crown..

      • Word Merchant

        Rumour has it, a scale model of JCB’s head.

  • Lincolnshire Poacher

    I do like Zeniths pilot watches. I particularly like the indices font, the cathedral hands, twin sub dials, and the bronze case. Some can be more or less understated, and I definitely prefer them when they stick too subtler design cues.

  • Julian Chan

    I love the look of this watch and if it were under 40mm, it’d shoot to the the top of my buying list.

  • HectorAsuipe

    This, the Ton-Up variant, the 1969, the 4150, and the Tipo are putting Zenith smack dab in center stage. They own the chronograph market right now, in my mind. While this is a big mutha, it probably could displace a Panerai with little fuss on a baller’s wrist. I really wish it were about 8-10% smaller. Pairing that strap with the bronze case is just fabulous. If JCB has had anything to do with the last year of releases, then I owe him a drink.

  • Allan

    I still prefer their special pilot ‘red baron’ from a few years ago. The ceramic case, high contrast legibility and low weight won me over. Looked great on a black bund too with a cordovan nato style strap. . I know bunds aren’t seen as ‘cool’ anymore, but for a purely authentic point of view all pilots used them to protect their skin against the metal going cold at high altitude. It would cost these companies nothing to start including them.

  • Like the watch in general. But at 45mm with a huge crown, it seems more like an expensive fashion statement.

  • Andrew Hughes

    I am digging the bronze age that we seem to be in. This watch is lovely… I want to just try out that giant onion crown… anybody want to lend me there’s? I’ll give it back in a few years… maybe.

  • Ulysses31

    I have grown to like the watch, but I am so sick of bronze.

  • Alessandro Montanari

    Bronze is awesome and it seams like Zenith gave it a reasonable prize. Interesting.

  • Blessed by the Blériot’s Estate, no doubt!

  • Jonathan Schippert

    Already saving for this great timepiece!

  • Tovo

    Love the look with the exception of the PILOT plastered on it which in my opinion detracts.

  • Alessandro Montanari

    What a beauty! And it’s very nice that Zenith leads the way for other brands in term of reasonable prizing. 7100 usd is a lot for sure but still less than many other comparable chronographs such as Navitimer and such. Go ahead Zenith!