Zenith Heritage Pilot Café Racer: a biker and libertarian attitude
Zenith's new chronograph pays a successful tribute to Café Racer in an effective interpretation of its philosophy: performance and simplicity in an appealing Pilot case.
The Café Racer, which lent its name to Zenith's new chronograph, is a streamlined bike with no superfluous attributes. It features a low-rise handlebar, a subtle body and it is entirely centered on a powerful and feasible engine. There are multiple specialized websites for aficionados to share spare parts, advice and anecdotes in a way which is as effective as the bikes they ride. The Café Racer was invented in the mid-20th century, and was seen for the first time on the new motorways that had been built in England at the time. Its name originates from the challenges that the bikers issued each other when racing from one café to another or making a round trip from one of these very cafés hoping to return before the song that they had started to play on a juke-box had ended. Of course, the bike had to go beyond the symbolic 100 miles per hour (160 km/h).
An effective vintage look
Café Racers are rooted in British alternative culture, they have a simple style and are the very picture of freedom and power. Zenith did not only borrow their name but also imprinted all their values in its Heritage Pilot Café Racer. The streamlined watch is as simple as the bikes.
It features a grained granulated dial and comes with a rather rough nubuck strap doubled with rubber, which gives it a deliciously vintage look. It highlights all the codes of the other pieces in the Pilot collection: big fluted crown screwed to the luminescent large Arabic numerals and faceted beige SuperLuminova-coated hands, which provide overall perfect readability.
Titanium and old steel
Under its antireflective and slightly domed sapphire glass, the slate gray dial features small seconds at 9 o'clock opposite the minute chronograph timer at 3 o'clock. Everything is encased in a 45 x 14-mm old steel case, which is water resistant to 100m. Its particular function is once again highlighted by the two pushers of the chronograph, placed on either side of the crown. The final touch to this streamlined design is the word "Pilot" inscribed at 6 o'clock and the orange-hued seconds' numbers, which are discreetly affixed on the small track that runs outside the dial. "Café Racer Spirit" is engraved on the closed titanium case back. The pin buckle of the strap is also made of titanium.
Just like the bikes it pays tribute to, the Heritage Pilot Café Racer is equipped with an exceptional engine, namely the self-winding chronograph caliber El Primero 4069 (50-hour power reserve) that was inspired by the undeniably successful and legendary El Primero movement from 1969. The invisible oscillating mass features "Côtes de Genève" finishes and the movement, which has a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, displays time lapses to the tenth of a second.