Watches: Zenith Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT The Wright Brothers 1903

By Thierry Ané on January 5, 2014

What is happening with Zenith? The brand is taking the pilot’s watch market by storm this year! With one amazing timepiece after another, the brand with an historical legitimacy in the “flying instruments” sector is proving that it means business and has all the assets it takes to become the reference in a market segment dominated by Breitling and IWC.

Not long ago, I presented the Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT Aviazione NavaleWatches: Zenith Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT Aviazione Navale created in homage to the first Italian Naval Air Squadron. It followed the Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT Baron Rouge limited edition and the unlimited Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT unveiled at Baselworld earlier this year. It seems that the GMT version of the Pilot Aeronef Type 20 collection is the model of choice for limited runs: this month Zenith introduces the fourth version of this watch and the third limited one.

On December 17th, 1903 the Wright Brothers achieved the first self-powered flight. To commemorate this important date in the history of aviation, Zenith unveils the Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT The Wright Brothers 1903.

Relying on the automatic Elite 693 calibre, the watch presents the same functions as its siblings: central hours and minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock and a second time zone by central hand. It also features the black dial common to all models and the black DLC titanium case of the Baron Rouge version. Despite these important similarities, Zenith’s designers have achieved a fundamentally different timepiece.

The most noticeable novelty is the sand-coloured nubuck strap that looks like a leather wristband and covers a large portion of the wrist. I have not seen it in person but from what I can tell it seems really comfortable and appropriate for a pilot’s watch. It also gives a nice vintage look to this timepiece, greatly enhanced by the matching sand colour of the SuperLuminova on the dial. Artificially withered, the Arabic numerals seem old and a little dirty and strengthen the old warrior appeal of this watch.

The Wright Brothers 1903 is limited to… 1903 pieces of course and is a great choice if you are in the market for an authentic pilot’s watch. As I said before, all these Pilot Aeronef Type 20 GMT have a different identity and are perfect to collect. So well done to Zenith and let’s hope more exciting versions will follow!

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: