Zenith is spreading its wings. The Swiss watchmaker just unveiled its latest pilot’s watch, the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton Up Black ($7,100), but while its roots are in the air, its inspiration is here on earth, on the open road. The watch was created as a tribute to the British café racer biker subculture from the 1950s, known as the Ton-Up Boys. Zenith unveiled the new timepiece at the recent Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride—a motorcycle ride and fundraiser for cancer research and men’s mental health on behalf of The Movember Foundation—this past weekend. The event, which is sponsored by both Zenith watches and Triumph motorcycles, brought out over 12,000 riders who showed up in their Sunday’s best in over 650 cities worldwide and has raised $5.8 million to date.
“We’ve had a partnership with DGR for about three years and this year we wanted to make it a little bit special,” said Zenith CEO Julien Tornare. “We’ve been in the Pilot Collection for quite a while and we wanted to launch a collection for bikers, so we developed this limited-edition Ton Up. I want to develop this biker atmosphere because it’s a good fit with the watch, which looks vintage as well, and we actually noticed there a lot of these people who are really into cool watches like this.”
The new timepiece features Zenith’s El Primero automatic 4069 caliber with hours and minutes in the center of the black dial and a central chronograph hand and 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock and features 50 hours of power reserve. The watch has oversized white Super-Luminova Arabic numerals and white hands against a black dial in a 45 mm stainless steel case, making it easy to read when you have your hands on the handle bars. The watch comes on a black oily leather nubuck strap with a protective leather lining. A 5-piece limited-edition version on a brown leather strap featuring the “The Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride” logo (also featured on the dial in white) was created for the event’s top fundraisers and one winner of a draw prize.
Zenith’s new timepiece, however seems more about style and is meant to evoke the lifestyle of the Distinguished Gentleman riders and the biking community as a whole. “It’s not about racing and speed performance—for us, it’s really about the mindset, the atmosphere, and the cool factor of motorbikes,” says Tornare.
Meanwhile partnerships with Triumph motorcycles could be looming for the brand in the future. “We’ve had kind of a partnership together—nothing official but we have done a few events with them, including this one—but we are in discussions with them,” said Tornare. “They came to our manufacture and I’m supposed to go to theirs. We might be working on something, yes, but nothing is confirmed so far.”