”Travel-watches” are one of the most sought-after kind of mechanical timepieces nowadays. But what if your needs require a bit more than a simple GMT indication, like in most of them?
Among many of the greatest inventions of the XX and XXI century (mobile phones, internet, medicine, etc.), an easy way to get from point A to point B in almost absolutely any location on Earth is perhaps the most significant one. The world we live in has never before been such an open place, and to make our globetrotter’s lives more pleasurable we search for ultimate travelling tools – a watch being one of them.
Timepieces with a time indication of more than just one time-zone are not something new. The first world-time watch is believed to be the work of Louis Cottier (around 1940). His design was then adopted, in many ways and forms, by a number of respected watch manufactures around, although the most common travel-watch is as simple as it can get. We know it as a GMT (Greenwich Mean Time) and, in short, it’s an additional second time-zone indication by means of an extra hand that can be set to any desired time location. A Worldtimer, on the other hand, is a timepiece equipped with a more sophisticated way of indicating time around the world – it does so in all 24 (or even 37 in most precise cases) zones simultaneously. And this is the particular complication Zenith uses in its most complex travel watch, along with some other quite useful features.
Zenith Pilot Doublematic – Functions
It is quite legitimate to say that the Zenith Pilot Doublematic is a perfect traveller’s tool watch. In its substancial but not humongous case, it houses not one but four mechanical complications. All integrated in the legendary El Primero automatic calibre, here numbered calibre 4046.
World-time: time indication in all 24 time-zones of the world, executed by means of two external discs. One with city names representing each zone, the other with a 24h scale, divided in day and night sections for better readability. Operated by a crown at 10 o’clock.
Chronograph: an El Primero powered mechanical stop-watch with a central seconds-hand and a 30 minutes counter at 3 o’clock. Operated in a standard manner – by two push-pieces on the right side of the case. Big date: an outsized date window at 2 o’clock, with two separate discs for the tens and the digits. Operated via the main crown. Alarm: an acoustic complication with winding-level indication and on/off selector between 6 and 8 o’clock. Operated by a dedicated push-piece crown at 8 o’clock.
Zenith Pilot Doublematic – Design
Although it might seem like the Doublematic is a complex timepiece, Zenith managed to pull it off with the design quite nicely, making a comfortable and readable watch. The case is stainless steel with a generous 45mm in diameter and 16mm in thickness. It is equipped with two sapphire glasses (front and back), a set of three crowns and two chronograph pushers and a brown alligator leather strap with white stitching, rubber lining and steel butterfly folding clasp. As with any real Pilot watch (and it’s worth adding that Zenith owns the name “Pilot” for its timepieces as an exclusive!), the dial is black with white applications, brushed steel hands and a generous amount of green-glowing SuperLuminova.
Despite the number of combined functions being quite overwhelming, the dial is easily readable, perfectly proportioned and useful. It is crowded by all means – but surprisingly easy to read and you can find everything you look for at a glance.
Zenith Pilot Doublematic – Movement
El Primero is for Zenith what the 911 Carrera is for Porsche, the No.5 for Chanel or – to get back to the watch-related comparisons – the Speedmaster for Omega: an icon, a trade-mark, a most significant single step in history. The integrated automatic winding calibre was first conceived in 1969 as the first (and the only to date) mass produced chronograph calibre with a 5Hz balance wheel (full 36.600 bhp). This high frequency allows to split every measured second into 10 even parts, maintain a stable rate of the movement and develop quite an impressive range of additional complications or variations; the most significant has to be the one on the Striking 10th – full use of the El Primero’s capabilities by means of a central 1/10 of a second chronograph hand.
The El Primero calibre that powers the Doublematic is a more standard 5Hz chronograph combined with a World-time complication, the big date and the alarm module. The latter is a set comprised by a gong and a hammer plus an additional spring barrel to accumulate the energy consumed by the loud alarm ringing that lasts for a full 30 seconds. The entire calibre has a 50-hour power reserve and consists of 439 components, with some basic finishing such as Geneva stripes and blued screws.
Zenith Pilot Doublematic – Conclusion
To sum up, the ultimate traveller’s Zenith – the Doublematic – is a watch that will please a somewhat more requiring taste. If you look for a simple second-time-zone watch, you’ll most likely find it too big, too busy and maybe too ostentatious. If you however like the timepiece to offer some bonus features, you’ll love it as much as I did wearing it for more than two pleasurable weeks. The world-time, the big date, the chronograph and the alarm are all perfectly usable, and for the price of $14.200USD it’s not too expensive either – especially for a mechanical timepiece boasting such quality and utility level.
More resources about the Zenith Pilot Doublematic on the Official Zenith Website.
Photos: Michał Grygalewicz