Sometimes in the watch world there are not just trends, but perhaps what one can call micro-trends. Well it appears that there is a meteorite micro-trend in 2015.
Meet the new Pilot Type 20 Hommage à Louis Blériot. This very limited edition of five numbered pieces is in a whopping 60mm-sized case, (perhaps unintentionally?) reminiscent of the huge pilots’ watches of old.
Louis Blériot (1 July 1872 – 1 August 1936) was a French inventor, engineer and aviator, the final of these his greatest love and the subject of a lifelong commitment. In 1909 he made the first cross-Channel flight (for which he used Zenith instruments) in what they referred to as a heavier-than-air plane, winning a GBP1,000 newspaper prize in the process. In terms of dates, Orville and Wilbur Wright make first powered, sustained, and controlled flight in a heavier-than-air aircraft in 1903 and Alberto Santos-Dumont’s first successful powered flight in Europe was in 1906.
This new Hommage is carved from a block of sapphire, with bezel, lugs, and ratcheted crown in white gold. The grey meteorite dial (and to be honest I am not entirely sure about the links between the aviator and meteorite) is from the first fragment of Muonionalusta (4.5653 billion years old) asteroid found in 1906 near the village of Kitkiöjärvi between Sweden and Finland. It was given its name in 1910 by Professor A. G. Högbom, who named it ‘Muonionalusta’, after a place nearby on the Muonio River.
Inside is the pocket-watch Calibre 5011K which has also made its way into other Type 20s, with a whimsical engraving to commemorate the flight. With 18,000 VPH, this movement is famous for its precision, in particular for having won the 1967 Neuchâtel Observatory chronometer award as the most accurate chronometer they’d ever tested. The Calibre 5011 K was Zenith’s last observatory chronometre movement. Launched in 1960, it was made as a chronometer for competition, as a chronometer for sea and air navigation, and as a pocket watch movement.
Of course this watch’s core design shares the same general attributes of the Type 20, in terms of its oversized Arabic numerals and hands, which are lumed. The sub dial at 3 o’clock is the power reserve indicator and at 9 o’clock is a small seconds.
The movement can be seen through the sapphire of the titanium case back; the aforementioned hand-engraved decoration to the movement depicts Louis Blériot’s cross-Channel flight in 1909 aboard the Blériot XI plane, and the odd Seagull or two (or half a dozen), and even some small flying instruments.
With a water resistance of 30m, the Pilot Type 20 Hommage à Louis Blériot comes on a black alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining with a white gold pin buckle.