Zenith ICON: PILOT – A Journey Through Time and Skies

Watches and Wonder 2023 saw Zenith’s Pilot collection relaunch with two iterations, the Pilot Automatic and the Pilot Big Date Flyback. The Pilot collection marries durability, legibility, and intuitiveness with a modern design language that subtly tips its hat to the world of aviation. Zenith is now launching the line’s first Boutique Edition timepieces that not only respect tradition but boldly embrace innovation. These timepieces, adorned with captivating blue dials, pay homage to the night sky – a source of inspiration that has guided Zenith since its inception.

Blue, a signature colour for Zenith, holds a special place in the heart of the brand. Reflecting the night sky and the brightest shining star that inspired Zenith’s founder, Georges-Favre Jacot, blue encapsulates the spirit of adventure and bravery of early pilots. The Pilot collection’s deep shade of blue is not just a colour choice; it’s a tribute to the pioneers who dared to soar above the horizon, chasing dreams amid the vast expanse of the sky.

The Pilot Automatic Boutique Edition, encased in a 40mm stainless steel frame, exudes an edgy angularity with a flat-top round bezel. The textured dial, reminiscent of corrugated metal sheets on vintage aircraft fuselages, features oversized luminescent Arabic numerals. The luminescent hour marker at 6 o’clock, resembling an artificial horizon instrument, adds a touch of aviation nostalgia. The timepiece houses the El Primero 3620 movement, visible through the display back, and comes with interchangeable blue cordura-effect rubber and brown calfskin straps.

Zenith Pilot Automatic Steel Timepiece
Zenith Pilot Automatic Steel Timepiece. Photo courtesy of the brand

The Pilot Big Date Flyback Boutique Edition, a larger and feature-rich sibling at 42.5mm, boasts a big date display and a flyback function highly prized by aviators. The innovative, compliant mechanism stabilizes the big date’s wheels in less than 0.03 seconds, ensuring precise timekeeping. The flyback function, designed for aviators wearing thick gloves, allows consecutive time recordings with a single push of a button. The El Primero 3652 chronograph calibre, visible through the display back, powers this aviation-oriented timepiece, accompanied by blue cordura-effect rubber and brown calfskin straps.

To complete the narrative, Zenith introduces the first-ever “ICONS: PILOT” capsule collection, featuring three vintage Pilot watches meticulously restored and certified by the Manufacture’s Heritage Department. This capsule collection delves into three Zenith Pilot watches’ professional and consumer aspects from the late 1960s and 1970s, focusing on their earlier El Primero models.

Zenith ICON S13. Tipo CP-2-ICONS

Tipo CP-2 Cairelli

Produced for the Italian army corps between 1968 and 1972, this military-spec chronograph, delivered through Roman retailer A. Cairelli, inspires modern Zenith Pilot creations with its rotating bezel and luminescent elements like Zenith’s 146 DP manual-winding chronograph calibre, originally developed by the Martel Workshops that had provided Cairelli. The A.M.I. military serial number indicates it was first delivered to the Italian Flying Corps.

Zenith A3821-ICONS Timepieces
Photo courtesy of the brand


Launched in 1972, the A3821 stands out for its space-age design, combining the legibility of a pilot’s watch with the water resistance and double gaskets of a diver’s watch. This hybrid exemplifies Zenith’s innovative approach during that era.

Zenith ICON 01.0230.415 ref
Zenith ICON 01.0230.415 ref. Photo courtesy of the brand


The ref. 01.0230.415, from 1975, is the first Zenith El Primero chronograph with a display back, revealing the revolutionary calibre with a space-age design and a matte black dial, with movement mounted on a suspension system as well as an integrated “lobster” bracelet made by Gay Frères. This exceedingly rare piece showcases the brand’s commitment to pushing boundaries.

From Boutique Editions that blend modernity with vintage charm to the ICONs capsule collection that resurrects treasures from the past, Zenith continues to elevate the art of watchmaking, inviting enthusiasts to soar with them through the skies of innovation and heritage. The Boutique collection is available exclusively at Zenith’s website and stores, while the “Icons: Pilot” remains a website-only offering. The Pilot Automatic Boutique Edition is $7,500, and the Pilot Big Date Flyback Boutique Edition comes for $11,500.

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