In the 1960s, Zenith produced 2,500 units of a chronograph watch called the TIPO C-2 for the Italian air force, outfitted with the Zenith Caliber DP 146. With these rare and desirable pilots’ watches now fetching big sums on the vintage-watch market, Zenith has now launched a modern version, faithful to the look and spirit of the original and equipped with the famous El Primero chronograph movement.
The Zenith Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2, a limited edition of 1,000 pieces, is based on the watches delivered to Italian Navy (Marina Militare) and Air Force (Aeronautica Militare Italiana) pilots by Roman distributor A. Cairelli throughout the 1960s and ’70s — timepieces that were already renowned in military aviation circles as the standard-issue wrist wear of American Lockheed F104 Starfighter pilots.
Like its historical predecessor, the modern TIPO CP-2 has a 43-mm case in stainless steel (12.85 mm thick and water-resistant to 100 meters); the black dial has a bicompax design with a central chronograph hand and subdials at 3 o’clock (for counting 30 elapsed chronograph minutes) and 9 o’clock (to display the running seconds. The sapphire crystal over the dial is domed and treated on both surfaces with nonreflective coating. The Arabic hour markers and rhodium-plated, faceted hands are coated with Super-LumiNova. The bezel and chronograph pushers were engineered for easy handling, Zenith says, and to meet a strict set of technical specifications imposed by the military.
The original TIPO CP-2 — also referred to by collectors as the “A. Cairelli” — contained one of Zenith’s most reliable and popular chronograph movement of the time, Caliber 146 DP. In the new model, this manual-winding workhorse has been replaced, and superseded, by the self-winding El Primero 4069, an up-to-date version of the legendary original introduced in 1969. Visible through a clear sapphire caseback, this column-wheel chronograph movement beats at a super-swift frequency of 36,600 vph and provides a power reserve, when fully wound, of 50 hours. It’s composed of no less than 254 components, including 35 jewels and an oscillating weight enhanced with côtes de Genève.
The Zenith Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2 comes with a black calfskin leather strap with protective rubber lining and a stainless steel folding clasp. Limited to 1,000 pieces, it has a retail price of $7,700.