Before it became known as a pioneer in wristwatch chronographs with the development of the El Primero caliber in 1969, Zenith had secured a place in history as one of the first manufacturers of onboard instruments for aviators in the early 20th century. The Swiss brand has embraced this heritage in recent years with the release of its Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 collection.
At Baselworld 2013, Zenith added six new models to the collection, which is inspired by the original Zenith Type 20 onboard watch (montre d’aeronef in French), which appeared on instrument panels of numerous planes, including those of the French Air Force, circa 1938. Among these is the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT Red Baron, a limited edition of 500 pieces paying tribute to one of the legendary figures of aviation history, ace fighter pilot Albrecht von Richthofen, known as the Red Baron.
Like the unlimited Type 20 GMT model, introduced the same year, the watch has a number of design features directly influenced by Zenith’s 1930s-era pilot watches: a large 48-mm-diameter case in stainless steel; a wide-grooved, screw-locked crown that is easy for a pilot to grasp, even while wearing gloves; a matte-black dial with oversized Arabic numerals made entirely of white Super-LumiNova for maximum legibility in all conditions; and vintage-style hands that are also coated with Super-LumiNova.
The steel case of the Red Baron model is coated with black DLC (diamond-like carbon), and the GMT indicators — numerals around the dial’s flange and the pointer of the central GMT hand — are in bright red, the same color as von Richthofen’s legendary Fokker Triplane Dr.1, in which he achieved his 80 air combat victories. The strap is in overstitched black calfskin leather and has a DLC-coated pin buckle. The solid steel caseback of the limited edition is a medallion depicting the Red Baron’s airplane and bearing the inscription “Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 – Zenith Flying Instruments.” (On the unlimited GMT model, as on the rest of the Zenith Pilot watches, the caseback medallion depicts instead the plane of pioneering aviator Louis Blériot, the first man to complete a heavier-than-air flight across the English Channel.)
The price of the Zenith Pilot Montre d’Aeronef Type 20 GMT Red Baron edition is $8,900. Click on photos for larger images.
This article was originally published on August 2, 2013 and has been updated.
I bought one last January 2015. It is very light on the hand and comfortable to wear. The Arabic numbers on the dial are very easy to see even in low-light/dark conditions. I’m proud to be one of the 500 owners worldwide of this watch.
While I like the El Primero, I could probably lfind at least a thousand watches i would rather wear than that…perhaps even more that would also be cheaper .
Watch looks great!, but not sure how appropriate it is to name a watch after a German WWI ace that was inspired by a French WWII aeronautic instrumentation.
Bought one last year in Singapore. In less 7 months, the timeclock has gone slower and slower.
Worse is, after a month sending to zenith service centre in Malaysia, it is still not done fixing yet.
Just tried it on in Kingston UK. Wow what a watch, zenith getting back into the swing. Great to see!!! Well done zenith
The case of this model is made of TITANIUM with DLC coating.
That is correct .The red baron is DLC titanium.I saw it today it is stunning.Only one problem,if you wear the watch on your left hand the winder presses into your wrist.
I read other reviews that said the Red Baron edition is DLC titanium?