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ZENITH
Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Automatic Chronograph 45mm Bronze and Nubuck Watch, Ref. No. 29.2430.4069/21.C800
€7,966
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The Merciful Mutiny

In 1975, the order came from Zenith management to cease all production of mechanical watches and make way quartz technology. This meant scrapping the relatively young El Primero chronograph’s tooling. The foreman of Workshop 4, Mr Charles Vermot, had other ideas. Refusing to see a decade of his life tossed on the scrap heap, he furtively stored everything – tools, presses, cutters, cams, plans, the lot – in a dusty attic, for later retrieval. And thank goodness he did.

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The Prize-Winning Flight

In 1909, the Daily Mail offered a £1,000 prize to the first man to fly the English Channel in a heavier-than-air, powered aircraft. That man was French inventor Mr Louis Blériot, who flew from France in his own Type XI monoplane. On landing atop the White Cliffs of Dover after struggling through early-morning fog, his Zenith watch, “which I use regularly, and cannot recommend it highly enough”, told him the flight had taken 36 minutes and 30 seconds. Zenith’s pilot credentials were cemented, with the current collection’s Pilot Type 20 designed in Mr Blériot’s honour.

INNOVATIONS

The Gyroscopic Mount

New to 2018’s Defy collection (coming soon to MR PORTER) is the Zero G, which suspends the ticking escapement assembly in a gyroscopic mount. No matter what the orientation of your wrist, the balance wheel stays perfectly horizontal, meaning better timekeeping (and a dazzling display of micro-mechanics).

The Escapement Of The Future

The extraordinary, still conceptual, Defy Lab manages to pare back the traditional escapement’s 30-part assortment of levers, jewels and springs to a single stencilled wafer of silicon. This twitches at 15Hz, bringing the whole, open-worked dial display to life. In theory, this will result in unrivalled accuracy.

The Top-Flight Carbon

Both of the Defy El Primero 21’s hair’s-breadth balance springs are made from pure carbon nanotube, a cylindrical form of pure carbon pioneered by British academics and deemed to be the future of material science, from medicine to space flight. They’re anti-magnetic, durable and precisely manufactured – everything a watchmaker wants in its hairsprings.

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