Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure Review

by Chamath Gamage
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Zenith introduced the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure as part of the unveiling for their 2019 Baselworld line up. The Chronograph was released alongside the Type 20 Extra Special Adventure which is the three-hand layout of the Pilot model. 

Zenith does have a vibrant history with pilot models, which stretches back to the early 19th century. The Zenith Type 20 Montre d’Aéronef released around 1939 is a timepiece that closely resembles the current Pilot Type 20 editions. The iconic cathedral hands with the Gothic-font Arabic numerals and the large knurled bezel have all been carried over from the original Type 20 Montre d’Aéronef model. The pilot models only lasted up until 1960, where Zenith stopped production of their aviation watches bar one or two models so that the brand could more solely focus on racing chronographs. 

In 2010 however, the brand came back to its aviation pedigree and once again started the manufacturing of pilots watches, which was when the modern Pilot Type 20 collection was born. It’s great to see a design of a watch remain unchanged for almost eight decades and shows how true to their history Zenith are. 

Zenith has given the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure a more 21st century modern and urban look. Typically when thinking urban colours or colours of nature, one is drawn to the likes of green and brown. Zenith has utilized these colours extensively throughout the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure. The 45mm casing has been produced in bronze material along with the chronograph pushers and the iconic large crown. The bronze casing, as quoted by Zenith, will develop its own patina over time, making each case vary from one to another. The hour, minute and chronograph second hand have its outer edges done in rose gold with the inner parts made with SuperlumiNova. The word “Pilot” on the dial is in orange colour, which combined with the hands all come together nicely to subtly match the bronze of the casing. 

The dial background on the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph has been done in a Khaki Green “grained” with the colour fading inward centrally, giving the dial the appearance of two different greens. The large Arabic numerals are made entirely of SuperLuminova, which colour match the hands and other white inscriptions throughout the dial. The white colour contrast to the green background of the dial does make the watch stand out from a distance. Besides having a black or navy coloured dial, it can’t get much better in terms of readability. As it should be too, after all this is a Pilots watch! 

The large crown, which is an iconic feature of Zenith’s pilot watches now has hollowed lines throughout it.  This adds that extra level of detail to make it stand out a bit more. This large crown will undoubtedly come in handy if you are wearing gloves and need to be able to adjust the time. The chronograph pushers have also been well thought out too, being the large rectangular shape and having a dozen ridges to be able to provide extra grip. 

Zenith has given the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure the automatic El Primero Calibre 4069 column-wheel chronograph movement. The El Primero Calibre 4069 movement is produced in-house by Zenith, which comes with 35 jewels and is comprised of 254 parts. The chronograph movement is highly precise as it beats at 5hz at 36, 000 VpH. The Calibre 4069 movement powers the 30 minute counter at 3 o’clock position and the constant seconds counter at the 9 o’clock position on the dial. 

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure comes with a khaki matrix calfskin leather strap or camouflage alligator leather strap which both have a rubber lining and a titanium pin buckle. The khaki matrix strap fits the watch very well as it stays with the urban colour theme. The choice of this strap allows it to be more versatile and can be suited to most occasions. With the camouflage strap however, it’s more suited for outdoor events. 

Overall the watch can look big with the 45mm casing, however when worn this is not the case as the curved lugs fit nicely around the wrist. The big crown doesn’t feel obtrusive either, although it may be something you will need to get used to, at least appearance-wise. When worn, the large iconic Arabic numerals certainly help the watch be noticed from some distance. 

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure is one of the more simplistic aviation watches, while still being practical, versatile and aesthetically appealing. 

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure Specification :

Model Reference: 29.2430.4069/63.I001
Case Diameter: 45mm
Dial: Grained Khaki Green
Case-back:Titanium engraved with Zenith flying instrument logo
Movement: Automatic , El Primero 4069
Power Reserve: Min. 50 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes and central seconds (stop second mechanism)
Water Resistance: 10 ATM

Australian Retail Pricing : $11,300.00

Availability : Available now

Local Authorised Dealers :

  • Brisbane – The Hour Glass
  • Melbourne – Monards ( Collins Street and Crown Casino) ,Gregory Jewellers and The Hour Glass
  • Sydney – Hardy Brothers, Swiss Concept and The Hour Glass
  • Perth – Barbagallo Watch
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