A flashback to 1960s UK’s Café Racer motorcycle culture with the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton-Up.
I will give a brief overview of the "Café Racer" motorcycle culture, which gave its name to the concept before reviewing the model, which is among the novelties presented to the likes of watch enthusiasts at the Baselworld 2016.
“The Café Racer is a streamlined bike with no excessive aspects. It sports a lower rise handlebar, an exquisite body with being set on a high output and durable engine. The Café Racer was created in the mid-20th century, and was seen for the initially on the fresh built motorways of England at the time. Its name comes from the races, which the bikers pointed each other when racing from one café to another, or making a circle from one of these very cafés while passing the limit of the symbolic 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).”
Café Racers are born in British alternative culture. They are the symbols of simple style, freedom and power. Zenith managed to put together all those values in its Heritage Pilot Café Racer successfully instead of taking the name only. The model I have here comes in a bold 45mm diameter case. The case is made of stainless steel, which offers an aged-look with its exclusive finishing that fits nicely with the Retro concept of the model. The large chronograph pushers provide a comfortable grip in all conditions, while the large onion-shaped winding crown is in perfect harmony with the rest of the watch. Designed to withstand 100 meters / 10 bar water pressure, the front of the case has a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal glass with antireflective coating. The classic Café Racer motorcycle engraving on the solid titanium case back is an impressive visual element.
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton-Up (Ref. 11.2432.4069 / 21.C900) has a dial designed in matt black. The large Arabic numeral indices and thick hands provide an image consistent with the Retro concept of the model, while offering excellent legibility in virtually any environment thanks to Super LumiNOVA phosphor application. The dial is laid out in Bi-Compax Chronograph style with no date display, which is a clever move for preserving the dial’s visual integrity and simplicity.
The model is powered by the Caliber 4069, which is a modern iteration of the legendary Caliber El Primero, which has been released back in 1969. Self-winding automatic chronograph movement beats at a frequency of 36.000vph, a signature feature of El Primero calibers, and offers a 50-hour power reserve when fully wound.
The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton-Up (Ref. 11.2432.4069 / 21.C900) comes on a black oily nubuck leather strap with protective rubber lining. The strap, which successfully completes the Retro theme of the model, is secured with a Zenith signed pin buckle made of lightweight Titanium.
Zenith Pilot Collection offers a wide range of products from three-hand automatics to limited edition versions and models with different case materials as well as several dial color and strap options.