In 2016, Swiss Zenith released a “remake” of a rare pilot’s watch known as the Zenith Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2 (aBlogtoWatch hands-on here). It was based on a timepiece from the 1960s made by Zenith for a local Italian distributor who sold about 2,500 of them to the Italian Air Force. It was my favorite new Zenith watch of 2016 and, since then, Zenith has produced a few cosmetic variations of the Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2, including this limited-edition reference 03.2241.405/51.C915 Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2 USA Edition. Produced in red, white, and blue with a polished steel case, the USA Edition version of the Pilot Cronometero TIPO CP-2 is very exclusive, being limited to just 50 pieces, and further is connected to a charity. Some of the proceeds from the sale of each piece will go to support the Wounded Warrior Project philanthropy organization.
Another interesting limited edition version of the Zenith Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2 is this watch produced for retailer Watches of Switzerland. Zenith appears to have a lot of demand for this collection, which, in 2016, was originally introduced very quietly. What I think makes the timepiece so successful is its emulation of a legitimate military-style tool watch in a fashionable design that has a solid movement. The functional design and focus on utility and ergonomics are skinned with high-quality materials, finishes, and of course the beautifully finished in-house Zenith caliber 405B El Primero automatic chronograph mechanism.
The caliber 405B El Primero is a high-beat 5Hz (36,000 bph) 30-minute chronograph with a flyback mechanism. (Most El Primero watches do not have a flyback feature.) The movement is sans date for a cleaner look and has 50 hours of power reserve. As I mentioned above, the movement is visible through the caseback and offers a really stunning visual display — especially for a watch at this price point. Aside from the elegantly polished hands, the dial of the Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2 is mostly matte — making it score very high for legibility in all lighting situations under the just slightly domed and AR-coated sapphire crystal.
The polished steel 43mm-wide case is also extremely comfortable on the wrist. It is just over 12mm-thick, and the proportions work very well to combine a vintage tool-style look with a size that meets modern standards of what many men wish to wear on their wrists. The case has a relatively slim (for a sport chronograph) profile with a 51mm lug-to-lug distance. Case water resistance is 100 meters, and the overall fit and finish is predictably good per Zenith standards.
As is the case with many pilot (versus diver) watches, the 60-minute rotating bezel is bi-directional (versus uni-directional) and moves around with 60 silent clicks. The bezel is now colored blue for this version and also features a red-colored triangle at the 60-minute mark. While nice looking, the bezel does appear to be printed aluminum, which, compared to ceramic, can wear over time. Then again, it is hard to get this specific “retro” visual look with a ceramic bezel all the time.
There are a great number of places in the world with red, white, and blue flags. Zenith identifies this version of the Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2 as a USA Edition but, in reality, it doesn’t scream “USA” until you look at the bespoke rotor design on the movement. Here, you can see a glimpse of the American flag in the Zenith star motif on the skeletonized rotor. That said, perhaps the greater appeal is just the pleasant navy blue color of the dial and bezel, along with the neat suede leather strap that has red and white stitching near the ends of the straps where they meet the case. The strap certainly isn’t for everyone, but it is a fun way to round out the distinctive look of this USA Edition of the Zenith Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2 watch.
Those seeking the handsome look of a retro pilot-style sport watch in a modern-sized product with just a bit of an edgy look should take the time to consider this particular Zenith. It includes the classic El Primero movement in a non-traditional El Primero design and also has enough fashionable versatility to be worn with a lot of outfits and colors. The 50-piece exclusivity is also interesting, though it isn’t clear how many Cronometro TIPO CP-2 watches (across various editions) Zenith will make over time. Retail price for this Zenith reference 03.2241.405/51.C915 is $8,350 USD. Learn more at the Zenith website here.
>Model: Pilot Cronometro TIPO CP-2 USA Edition reference 03.2241.405/51.C915
>Price: $8,350 USD
>Size: 43mm-wide, 12.5 mm-thick, and ~51mm lug-to-lug distance.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When blue or anything “America” is appropriate to wear — or just out and about wanting a great daily wear with a classic appeal.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Zenith or El Primero brand-lover more interested in brand’s vintage eye, as opposed to the more contemporary design direction of other models, such as those in the current Defy series.
>Best characteristic of watch: Classic 1960s military watch look is always pleasing to the eye, made modern with blue and red colors. Zenith does a great job of emulating the old look even if they don’t add anything particularly modern to the mix from a materials or technical standpoint.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Getting harder to accept aluminum bezel inserts for watches at this price, but it isn’t a big deal. Included strap isn’t for all wearing scenarios, and it would have been nice for Zenith to include an additional strap as well.