Zenith in 2023 highlights its aviation watches with two new models, the Pilot Automatic and the Pilot Big Date Flyback. 

Both new watches, which Zenith debuts today at the 2023 Watches & Wonders, will be available in newly designed steel or black ceramic cases.

The new Zenith Pilot Big Date Flyback, here in a black ceramic case.

The Pilot Automatic will be offered as a 40mm three-hand time and date watch while the Pilot Big Date Flyback offers a 42.5mm chronograph with both a large date display and a flyback function.

The new Zenith Pilot Automatic, in a 40mm steel case.

The flyback function allows the wearer to quickly reset the chronograph to zero and then restart it by a single push of a button. Historically, this allowed pilots to record consecutive times without stopping.

Both designs update Zenith’s long-standing pilot collection. Those familiar with the watchmaker may recall that Zenith in 1888 actually filed a trademark for the French term “Pilote” and filed for the English “Pilot” in 1904. Zenith today remains the only brand to hold the rights to mark its dials with ‘Pilot.’

In the early 20th century the watchmaker specialized in watches and dashboard instruments for pilots, notably supplying Louis Blériot, who made history by making the first flight across the English Channel in 1909. 


Pilot Automatic

In addition to the new case design, Zenith gives this model a distinctive flat-top round bezel.  Zenith satin-brushes the steel case version and micro-blasts the black ceramic model to give it a contemporary matte finish. On the watch’s black opaline dial Zenith fits oversized Arabic numerals in traditional early 20th-century pilot style. The dial’s horizontal grooves are meant to mimic the look of corrugated metal on the fuselage of older aircrafts.

At 6 o’clock above the date window, Zenith adds a new flat luminescent hour marker to replace an Arabic 6. This white line recalls the artificial horizon instrument found in cockpits. A similar line is found just below the date on the Pilot Big Date Flyback.

Seen through the sapphire display back is Zenith’s El Primero 3620 high-frequency manufacture movement, which delivers a power reserve of sixty hours when fully wound. Zenith will supply straps to match both models: The black ceramic version is delivered on a black cordura-effect rubber strap as well as a khaki rubber strap.

Zenith supplies the steel model on the same black rubber strap, but adds a second strap made of vintage-like brown calfskin leather. Of course, these straps can be easily swapped with the quick-release mechanism integrated directly into the back of the straps.

Pilot Big Date Flyback

Powered by the new El Primero 3652 automatic high-frequency chronograph (a new version of the Zenith El Primero 3600), the new watch displays its namesake functions with panache.

The steel model is especially notable for its vintage ‘Rainbow Flyback’  references with its chronograph’s minutes totalizer finished in alternating colors, which will make it easier to distinguish between the five-minute marks.

In addition, the steel model’s central chronograph seconds and its chronograph minutes hands are bright orange. This is another nod to the Zenith El Primero Rainbow from 1997. 

The model’s black ceramic version offers a more utilitarian look with luminescent white markers and hands that contrast nicely against a black corrugated dial. On both models, the date display features a new, patented mechanism that advances and stabilizes both of the big date’s wheels in less than 0.03 seconds.

Zenith will deliver the new Pilot Big Date Flyback in ceramic with a black and khaki rubber strap. For the steel version Zenith includes the black rubber strap and a brown leather strap.


Pilot Automatic – Black Microblasted Ceramic: $9,600 

Pilot Big Date Flyback – Black Microblasted Ceramic: $13,500

Pilot Automatic – Steel: $7,500 

Pilot Big Date Flyback – Steel: $11,500

More Dark 2023 Debuts

Also for Watches and Wonders 2023 Zenith debuts an all-black micro blasted titanium Defy Revival Shadow, with a matte black dial ($7,400).

Zenith’s new Defy Revival Shadow.

Additional all-black debuts include the Defy Skyline Ceramic ($15,000), which features a black galvanic dial with a sun-ray finish, and a new Defy Skyline Skeleton Ceramic ($17,000), with an open dial that highlights a blackened large central four-pointed star.

The new Zenith Defy Skyline Black Ceramic.

The watch’s skeleton movement features black bridges and main plate.

The new Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton Black Ceramic.


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