Zenith has just recently launched the Pilot Type 20 Blueprint; a watch inspired by as the name suggests, design blueprints for the timepiece. What bought on the idea to make such a unique timepiece? When the team at Zenith Manufacture found the blueprints to their historical building, it reminded the team of blueprints they saw of the earlier Aeronefs. These aircraft were created by some of the most notable pilots which included Louis Bleriot and the Type XI aircraft he flew across the English channel. As Zenith has an extensive history with pilot watches, they sought to do something different with this latest timepiece, using the blueprints for these iconic aircraft as inspiration for the dial design.
The idea of the blueprints is what essentially translates the design into construction. Without blueprints, it’s hard to build something to exact measurements and have the final product come out looking like what was initially designed. Engineering plans still to this day use carefully laid out drawings with measurements for the construction crew to work from, so that accuracy of design during construction is maintained.
When we look at a watch, we only see the final product of the different colours, shapes, finishes and how they are all beautifully integrated with each other to create the dial and other elements. We rarely give much thought to the design phase, where calculations and precise measurements are carried out to create the timepiece. Like other brands, every single dial made by Zenith is designed to minute details, with little left to chance. The designers at Zenith Manufacturer decided to showcase as much of the productions plans onto the dial of the Pilot Type 20, without overcrowding it with information. This type of dial is certainly unique and is something that stands out.
The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Blueprint comes in a 45mm stainless steel case. This oversized steel case is finished with a mixture of polished and satin-brushed surfaces. The base model of Pilot Type 20 watches is retained for this timepiece, with only the dial given an upgrade. Zenith’s Elite 679 movement has been used, which beats at a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4hz) and has a power reserve of approximately 50 hours.
Much like blueprints of old, where designs and measurements were drawn on blue paper/background, Zenith has used a blue dial as the background for the “design drawing”. The dial is split into two parts. First part is the matte blue base, where all the technical plans and notes used by the dial maker are shown. The second part is the sapphire crystal and a sapphire crystal layer with the hour markers and logo, which goes above the first part. Designing it in a two-part sequence creates a strong visual effect, whereby various markings on the second layer can make a shadow effect on the blue base, which can give off the impression that the markers are hovering above the base.
The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Blueprint is limited to 250 pieces. The side of the stainless steel casing has a plaque screwed in, which has the unique limited edition number of the watch out of the 250 total engraved into it. As a nod to the beginnings of aviation, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Blueprint comes with a blue calfskin leather strap which recalls the classic shearling flight jackets pilots used to wear. The leather strap also comes with rivets and titanium pin buckle along with a distinctive tab that can be found on a vintage pilot’s helmet. This latest timepiece by Zenith with its unique blueprint is sure to be a hit among watch aficionados!