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Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver Watch

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver Watch Watch Releases

Silver is a rare material in modern watchmaking, and that’s a pity. The warm hue of aged silver is a beautiful thing. Of all materials, it is my favorite for jewelry (rings and chains and the like) because of the way it oxidizes over time. The fact that I usually wear a steel watch with fingers full of silver rings occasionally annoys me, but opportunities to add a .925 beater to my collection are few and far between. Step forward the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver watch, and take a bow. With my penchant for silver and this, my favorite Zenith model, the purchase should be a formality, right? Well, let’s find out…

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver Watch Watch Releases

The Dial

Why is the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special series my favorite from Zenith? It’s all down to the dial — specifically, the luminous Arabic numerals. I do believe in all my years of fawning over watches, this font is my favorite. Several years ago, I was loaned a Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Watch Gallery Special Edition for a week or so. It was one of my most cherished loaners ever. I was amazed to find that the numerals were cut from solid blocks of luminous compound, and I’m pleased to see that the same (SLN C1) markers have been used here. They stand up tall from the dial, with sharp edges and a flawlessly homogenous glow (which also matched the glow intensity of the hands, something I always look for). Aside from peerless luminosity at night, these numerals add a pleasing depth to the dial.

The most divisive aspect of this piece, in particular, is the background upon which all these elements rest. If you like the brushed-and-riveted effect, then there are few rivals in this field. The bare metal approach is very cool, but I would worry that it would bore me after a while. I would have to see it on the wrist to see how the finishing reacts to natural and artificial light to be sure, so I’d suggest trying this one on before purchasing.

The presence of the word “pilot” is significant, and an honor Zenith is not likely to let you forget about any time soon. Zenith is, remarkably, the only brand in the world legally permitted to use the word “pilot” on the dial of a watch. And so they do. Often. As often as they can, to be honest. And who can blame them? It is a pretty nice accolade, after all.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver Watch Watch Releases

The Case

This is the first time ever that Zenith has produced a silver-cased wristwatch. The 45mm housing wears surprisingly well on the wrist, thanks to the short and sharply angled lugs. An enormous onion crown (over a centimeter in diameter) defines the case silhouette. Its proportions are borderline-ridiculous, but it is so nicely machined and so goofily bold, I actually ended up liking it. The case is water resistant to 100 meters and comes fitted on a brown calfskin leather strap.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver Watch Watch Releases

The Movement

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver watch is powered by the Zenith Elite 679 automatic caliber. Hidden behind the nicely engraved silver caseback displaying the Zenith Flying Instruments logo is a rotor weight decorated with a Geneva wave pattern. The movement has an operating speed of 28,800vph (4Hz), 126 components, 27 jewels, and a 50-hour power reserve.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver Watch Watch Releases


I approached this model already biased toward the family its release enhances. I was, however, instantly skeptical about the dial patterning and whether I could live with it long-term. There is nothing about this watch that would dissuade me from seeking it out and trying it on the wrist. I have the greatest respect for Zenith’s output and, whether or not that dial plays out as a success in the real world, it is excellent to see the brand trying new things after all these years. The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Silver watch is limited to just 250 pieces and will retail for $7,700. To learn more, visit

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  • Max Attack

    I want this even though it would wear huge on my 6.75 inch wrist. Maybe not a dial wear, but it would be fun for a casual Friday at the office.

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    Silver is a rare material in modern watchmaking, and that’s a pity.

    Not here. Every single Ochs und Junior I possess is made of the stuff.

  • aWtchslvr

    Delete “Pilot” and please, please delete “Extra Special” and you get a nearly pefect pilot watch.

  • I friggin’ love this!!!

  • DanW94

    I had a Bloomin’ Onion at the Outback Steak House the other day. Funny, I have no idea why I just thought of that….

  • Richard carroll

    The fact the rivet are represented as indentations instead of being in relief, like an actual rivet, annoys me. Such sloppy, lack of attention to detail on such an important design feature.

  • SuperStrapper

    I realise this is not a hands-on review, but after all the lume gushing you should have posted a reference picture. Different but very similar watch, and what buyers of this would expect.
    I digress, tgat this watch case is solid .925 sterling is quite interesting. I dont really care for this dial but I am a type 20 fan.

  • John Mark Booc

    5 lines of verbage on dial is killing me. But if it’s rolex it’s fine. LOL

  • Leonarr

    What has been seen, cannot be unseen

  • Ulysses31

    Fortunate is the man who can regard a $7700 watch as a “beater”. The overall watch looks beautiful. Even the brushed texture looks great to me, resembling feathers scattered on the dial. The faux-riveted look, however, makes it look cheap, like something you’d see on a child’s plastic toy that was trying to imitate metal plating.

  • carlhaluss

    I love your review of this watch, and your enthusiasm. Matter of fact, I was so enthusiastic when I saw it, I rushed down to my AD to put an order in for one! My only question is this, I can’t seem to find an answer to: The sterling silver case is prone to tarnishing, and I find the aging a part of the appeal. Sterling silver cases are often plated to prevent tarnishing, and I hope this is not the case here with the Type 20. It would be a disappointment. I wonder if any of your acquaintances at Zenith have any comments about this? Even my AD doesn’t know.

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