Zenith Expands its Pilot and Defy Line with the Release of Seven New Watches at the Watches and Wonders 2023

By Renuka Kennedy
Jun 15, 2023

Perfectly encapsulating its tagline, “the future of Swiss watchmaking,” the pioneering horology brand Zenith has a rich history that has shaped its success today mainly due to the futuristic mindset that prevails among its watchmakers.

In fact, the idea for Zenith’s iconic Pilot line emerged back in the late 19th century, even before the first flight, with its founder Georges Favre-Jacot’s belief that humankind would reach the sky one day. With such an outlook and dedication to aviation, the Pilot line was created as one of the first watches for pilots.

Since then Zenith has continued to hold onto this heritage while simultaneously adapting to contemporary trends to launch a series of Pilot watches through the centuries.

Newly added to this line is the Pilot Automatic with two renditions – stainless steel and ceramic – released at the Watches and Wonders 2023. This newly-designed timepiece is complete with a rounded 40mm case with a black opaline dial with luminescent numbers using the Super-LumiNova technology, a flat-top bezel and an angular large-sized crown.

While the stainless steel version is vertically satin-brushed and comes with two interchangeable straps in brown calfskin leather and black cordura-effect rubber, the ceramic ones have a matte finish and are accompanied by a black Cordura-effect rubber strap and a khaki cordura-effect rubber strap. The dial also has the words pilot engraved on it, a word that was trademarked by Zenith in 1904.

The most notable aspect of the new Pilot Automatic is the 6’o clock mark which is replaced by the date and has a bold white dash on top of it to mimic the artificial horizon instrument seen on aeroplanes thus showing off the horologist’s aviation spirit.

Beyond its physical aspects, the watch has a winding mechanism that uses an open and blackened oscillating weight similar to the artificial horizon instrument and boasts an El Primero 3620 high-frequency manufacture movement which gives the instrument its 60-hour power reserve when it is wound fully.

Another equally fascinating watch in the Pilot series is the newly-released chronograph timepiece Pilot Big Date Flyback which is embedded with a newly-developed version of the El Primero 3600 calibre, the El Primero 3652 calibre which is particularly made with the pilots’ requirements in mind by including two distinctive features – the big date and the flyback function.

With a dial that is slightly bigger than the Pilot Automatic – precisely 42.5mm, the brand dropped two versions of the Pilot Big Date Flyback also in stainless steel and ceramic. Its watch dial is an ode to the brand’s iconic El Primero Rainbow from 1997 with its bright orange minute and seconds hands and an oversized date display. Similar to the Pilot Automatic, the Big Date Flyback also come with exchangeable watch straps and has a quick-release mechanism too allowing watch wearers to effortlessly change the straps.

In addition to the Pilot collection, Zenith also launched three other unisex watches – Defy Revival Shadow, Defy Skyline Ceramic and Defy Skyline Skeleton Ceramic – as part of its DEFY Revival line at the Watches and Wonder 2023. The new pieces are a modern revival of the original DEFY model released in 1969.

The Defy Skyline Ceramic, for instance, has a flat top bezel with an octagonal-shaped black ceramic case that gives the watch its bold appeal. The watch’s case and straps – available in rubber and ceramic – are manufactured with metals and alloys that give the watch its unhinged quality which ensures that watch wearers need not worry about scratches or the watch losing its vibrant new look.

In terms of its technical aspects, the gadget is inbuilt with an automatic high-frequency El Primero 3620 manufacture movement and the first-ever 1/10th of a second indicator.

Click here to explore Zenith’s newest watches, launched at the Watches and Wonders 2023.