Setting foot at the end of the world in legendary Antarctic lands. Embarking upon a voyage of discovery. Braving the wild land never yet seen nor trod by mankind. Lifting the immaculate veil between iceberg and blizzard. Going to the most foreign place on earth. Giving oneself over to the whiteness with only oneself to count on. Using one’s wits to battle the treacherous, dreary ice and magnetic fields gone mad. Spotting hidden crevasses, dodging peaks. Experiencing the magic of the aurora australis. Breaking the trail. Accompanying science to the last continent and wanting to deliver the continent up to it. Preparing to face the most hostile of conditions and not being afraid to do so. And, emboldened by the spirit of those who explore for exploration’s sake, conquering the last great unknown.
1956: Admiral George J. Dufek and his “Lucky Seven” teammates are the first to land at the South Pole in an LC-47 named “Que sera, sera...”
High altitude, extreme temperatures, significant heat variations, and the magnetic fields produced by motors and onboard instruments all represent serious hazards to aviators. So a pilot does not compromise when it comes to the quality and reliability of his watch. In addition to being easy to read thanks to luminescent elements, Zenith flight instruments were always subject to stringent testing.
Zenith Altimeter, made for the English army as of 1910.
Zenith aircraft timer for the 1960s Italian Air force. Distributed by the supplier A. Cairelli, Rome
Before being approved and released on the market, each was rewound daily in a vertical position and exposed to changing temperatures ranging from -30 to +40°C; during this test, daily performance variations could not exceed 45 seconds for three consecutive days. The watches also had to withstand heavy vibrations and acceleration without stopping. Water-tightness, magnetic stability, and readability were also subject to strict testing for over 24 hours under conditions that left nothing to chance and no room for inaccuracy.
Historic 1960 Chronograph Watch
Hand-wound Zenith chronograph watch, 146 DP calibre, 1960. A. Cairelli.
The hand-wound Zenith chronograph was produced in the early 1960s for the A. Cairelli company, the traditional supplier of the Italian air force. On its back was engraved “Tipo CP-2”, confirming its military use. Sporting two counters, one at 9 o’clock and one at 3 o’clock, its black dial contrasts strongly with the luminescent numerals and hands. A 60-minute rotating bezel lent a modern air to the generously-sized case, 45 mm in diameter, which protected the watch from changing magnetic fields.
The 146 DP calibre was made in Zenith’s Ponts-de-Martel workshops. This chronograph, with its very desirable readability and ergonomics, was produced in a series of 2,500 that over time has become an icon much sought after by collectors. The military version used until the early 1980s by the Italian army had the notation “AMI” (Aeronautica Militare Italiana) or MM (Marina Militare) on the caseback, followed by an inventory number.
Echoing the historic chronograph watch from the 1960-80s, the new Pilot Big Date Special has functionality as its guiding principle. Its steel case is a moderate 42 mm in diameter, with classically styled alternating polished and satin-brushed finishes.
Zenith Pilot Big Date Special - Inspired by the classic watches, it has a hand-topstitched leather strap
The matt black dial, sandblasted five times, sets off the time displays, which visually are in perfect balance. The small seconds counter is at 9 o’clock, exactly opposite the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Both feature a snailed decoration. A pair of hands treated with black ruthenium and highlighted with Superluminova mark the hours and minutes in a decisively masculine and modern style. Their sporty, dynamic shape matches the refined graphic style of the Arabic numerals that pay simple and solemn tribute to those of the 1960 chronograph.
Behind the scenes, the El Primero 4010 calibre ticks away with an exceptionally consistent beat. Its finishes can be seen through the sapphire caseback. The winding rotor is decorated with thin Côtes de Genève in the purest watchmaking tradition.
Zenith Pilot Big Date Special
Milanese mesh bracelet
El Primero Calibre 4010, selfwinding
Cadence of the balance
Central hours and minutes Small seconds at 9 o’clock 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock Sweep seconds hand Large date at 6 o’clock
Polished and satin-brushed steel
Matt black with Superluminova-enhanced hands and numerals