New pilot’s models from Zenith and Breitling

Looking for extra legibility in a watch? These pilot’s models are just the thing for delivering the time at a glance … and more.


It would be hard to find two more diverse brands than Zenith and Breitling, but the two are both known for pilot’s models and have both just released watches with a distinct edge when it comes to legibility.

First up, the Zenith Pilot Extra Special Chronograph is part of the brand’s heritage collection and boasts a 45mm bronze case, a wide ratcheted easily adjustable crown, oversized numerals and is driven by the famed high-beat El Primero mechanism offering 50 hours power reserve.

pilot's models

It’s a distinctly vintage-looking piece with sandblasted black dial, a throwback to the onboard instruments developed by Zenith in the early years of aeronautics when outstanding legibility was the priority.

The massive Arabic numerals – made from blocks of white (green-emission) Super-LumiNova  – are mounted on a sand-blasted black dial and provide a striking read-out in conjunction with oversized hands which are also coated in the light-emitting material.

In a nod to its aviation origins, the solid titanium case-back depicts the plane flown by Louis Blériot when he crossed the Channel in 1909 with a Zenith on his wrist.

Breitling’s Colt Skyracer is also 45mm but an altogether more modern beast than the Zenith. It features not bronze for its casing but Breitlight, a material developed by the brand that’s 3.3 times lighter than titanium and 5.8 times lighter than steel, yet significantly harder. It offers exceptional resistance to scratches, traction and corrosion with anti-magnetic, andanti-allergenic properties to boot, and has a warmer touch than metal.

pilot's models

Breitling describe the Colt as “new generation” and have named it Skyracer after the aeroplane flying under Breitling colours in the Red Bull Air Races.

Power is a thermocompensated SuperQuartz movement, 10 times more accurate than standard quartz and chronometer-certified while its outstanding legibility comes from with white luminescent hands and indications presented, like the Zenith, against the black background, with red accents reminiscent of instrument panels. The sapphire crystal is glareproofed on both sides.

Like the Zenith the Colt is water resistant to 100 metres, and in an unusual and neat touch the black rubber strap bears various useful scales in both centimetres and inches. It can be simply removed for use as a measuring instrument, before refitting just as easily.

Our take on these two new pilot-inspired watches: if legibility is your priority, here are two ways to get it that couldn’t be more different, both living up to the promise of their respective brands.

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