Zenith Mens Replica have announced the release of a new Zenith Pilot Extra Special. This is their latest collaboration with UK retailer The replica watch Gallery, hit the shelves just earlier this week, December 1st, 2015. Whenever I see a blue-dialed Zenith, I get a little excited. Blue was the favourite dial colour of the late Charles Vermot, who worked for Zenith during the quartz revolution. As head of tooling, he was ordered to destroy all the equipment for and technical drawings of the world-famous El Primero (and other calibres) to make way for their electronic successors. Unable to wipe such an invention from existence, he secretly devised a plan that would spare the classic calibre from extinction: He concealed the tools and documents needed to produce Zenith’s mechanical catalogue in a remote attic of one of Zenith’s buildings and, provided false receipts for the scrap metal he’d been told to trade it all in for. There Zenith’s finest work remained until the time was right for Swiss replica watchmaking to rise from the ashes and be reborn.
Okay, so blue is just blue, but when a colour meant so much to such an integral part of the Zenith machine, I can’t help but feel a little more care and attention goes into its application than it might in the design process of a less storied brand. Weirdly, I don’t normally go crazy for blue dials myself, but I do think it looks excellent on this replica watch. We’re so used to seeing vintage-inspired Zenith pilot replica watches with high-contrast black and white dials, it’s nice to see a splash of personality ripple the mould.
The Zenith Pilot Extra Special Replica is the second collaboration the brand have explored with The replica watch Gallery (the first was back in 2013). The replica watch Gallery likes to get their trademark blue onto these collaborative projects, so this turned out to be a match made in heaven. The vintage Arabic numerals – shaped entirely from Super-LumiNova® – are huge, incredibly legible, and far more satisfying for their boldness than the gracile fonts designers sometimes lean on to evoke the past. It’s pleasing too to see Arabic numerals as opposed to graphical markers. It gives the replica watch a much more innocent and personable feel that detaches it somewhat from its functional DNA.
It’s worth pointing out that, unlike a lot of brands who have produced pilots’ replica watches in the recent past, Zenith actually does have some history in the field of aviation. Zenith was producing timepieces for pilots in the early days of heavier-than-air flight, and is (quite remarkably) the only Swiss replica watch manufacturer officially licensed to print the word “pilot” on their dials – an honour of which they’ve taken full advantage here.
We need only glance at the crown (be careful – it could take your eye out) to identify this as a pilot’s replica watch that sees itself as a serious successor to the timepieces worn by those in the aviation industry. The reasoning behind onion crowns of this size is that they were still usable while the pilot was wearing their thick gloves. That’s a cute excuse – and no doubt the genuine origin of this polarising principle – but I’ve always wondered whether a pilot who was too busy to remove his gloves would have been concerned with winding his replica watch, but then I suppose it gave him or her the option should it be necessary.