Among this year’s novelties, Zenith Watches have presented a very peculiar and interesting timepiece named Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu at the Baselworld 2014 event. This massive piece runs on a vintage pocket watch hand-wound mechanical movement which is stored in a huge and elaborately ornate case. The large round housing whose diameter (with the oversized crown included) measures all the way to 60 mm is made with a transparent sapphire case-band ring, as well as with a lovely bezel and lugs of white gold which are displaying wonderful hand-engraved and chased motifs which are likewise visible on the back of the movement. As its name suggests, the watch also includes a white Grand Feu enamel dial with slightly asymmetric indications, namely when the position of the two sub-dials is concerned. Zenith Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu watch is issued in a restricted series of just ten pieces.
The Zenith’s novel watch really stands out from the rest of the brand’s palette of products. It is very large, highly decorated, and practically demands to be noticed. Therefore, it is definitely intended for those who do not mind the attention. Its uncommon case is 57.5 mm wide, but once you include its crown (which is also highly decorated), the width of the watch reaches massive 60 mm. This is very big, even by the modern standards and raises some questions about the wearability and the functionality of the piece. However, it is quite clear that the watch is conceived more as an attention grabber than with functionality in mind. The large dimensions likewise provide a larger surface for its intricate hand-performed beautifications which do look quite amazing. As it has been mentioned, the case is made from a combination of sapphire and white gold elements. Sapphire is also found on its front side where it is domed and treated with glare-proof coating on both sides, as well as on its transparent case-back to reveal more of the skillful work of the Zenith’s artisans who decorated the movement completely by hand. The wide case is quite thick as well, with the height of 18.5 mm and it provides basic water resistance to 30 meters.
Vintage Pocket Watch Movement of Great Precision
The main reason why the watch is so oversized is actually not to provide its heavy decorations. It is that big in order to be able to facilitate a large 50 mm wide and quite special movement Caliber 5011 (or as it is referred to here 5011K) is a vintage movement, the last pocket-watch caliber made by Zenith and certainly among the top brand’s movements altogether. Made in the 1960s, this caliber was actually not intended to be included in a series of watches, but as a product that will enter the chronometric competitions in accuracy. As the company has revealed, these vintage calibers were kept in one of the company’s storages up until now. Considering the story about how El Primero calibers were preserved during the seventies, one could jokingly wonder if Zenith has some sort of Narnia-type storages and what else will they eventually find there.
Anyways, Caliber 5011 is very accurate as it is proven with its COSC chronometric certificate. Otherwise, it should be said that this 134 component movement with the height of 10 mm has 19 jewels, that it operates at the frequency of 2.5 Hz and that it provides power storage that keeps it running for two days.
White Grand Feu Dial with Asymmetric Placement of Counters
The beauty of the housing, the movement, and their hand-engravings is complemented with a dial made in a traditional way – with Geand Feu enamel decorating that requires careful painting and thermal treatment. Encircled with a railroad chapter ring common for pocket watches, there are Arabic hour numerals which are likewise enameled. Another retro-inspired feature is the fact that the watch also has blued and skeletonized hands that do not have luminous coating as it is nowadays mostly the case. Furthermore, the novelty from the brands Pilot collection features two sub-counters: one for the remaining power reserve at the three o’clock and the other one placed opposite to it for small seconds. These two counters are positioned somewhat strangely since the right one is positioned more at the center, while the left one stands further to the side and even partially covers the nine o’clock numeral. While this gives the dial a bit different look, it in a way disturbs the harmony of its appearance a little. However, this is not that noticeable since the decorations on the housing automatically draw the attention and it takes a while to notice that slight imbalance.
For the attachment of this peculiar 10 piece limited edition, Zenith has picked a black alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining for more comfortable wear. The wristlet locks with a pin buckle made of white gold. There is still no official information about the pricing of this controversial and original watch, but it is expected to be quite high, especially regarding the level of decorations, the type of the movement, as well as its exclusivity.