The Zenith Type 20 Tourbillon – Making Big Watches Before It Was Cool
Watch & Bullion28 July 2016 | 2 min read
Despite the trend of massive timepieces being new, the concept behind it is far from it. The archetypes of big watches can be found in the second world war, where pilots required big watches to help them navigate in the heat of the battle. An example of this can be found from IWC, who already in the early 1940s made watches with a diameter of 55 mm.
Therefore we can safely say that the Zenith Type 20 Pilot Tourbillon is not one to hunt a fashion trend, but a serious watch which brings some strong arguments to the table.
Big bold hands and numerals ensure visibility in the harshest of environments. This functional approach is further developed when looking at the operation of the watch. The Zenith typical crown lies safely in the hand and allows operation even with gloves, an important feature for pilots. This same idea can be found in chronograph buttons, which are big and flat with deep ridges to ensure reliable operation at all times.
Functionality usually comes with a compromise, yet the Zenith Type 20 Pilot offers luxury with no cutbacks. The tourbillon demonstrates the horological provenance of this historic brand, and is fitted with a small seconds hand and a date display around the cage.
This balance between luxury and functionality is probably best illustrated by the case. On the front it is made out of rose gold, this adds the luxury demanded by such a highly complicated watch. Further the red notes of the rose gold grant a somewhat rustic vintage appeal which compliments the design language greatly.
In order to not sacrifice durability and weight however Zenith has decided to go for the rather unique approach of a titanium caseback. This allows the watch to be substantially lighter than normal gold watches, yet maintains the visual appeal of gold without having to go down the road of plating the watch.
The Zenith Type 20 Pilot Tourbillon is fusing the best of both worlds into a bold watch which is not willing to make any compromises.