If you weren’t paying close attention you may have missed that Zenith launched a new pilot’s watch at Baselworld this year; the Type 20 Extra Special.
The Type 20 Extra Special
The reason you needed to be paying close attention is because the launch of the new Type 20 Extra Special was not accompanied by the usual fanfare that marks these sort of occasions. Why not, you ask? Good question.
According to the conspiracy theorists (yes, they also exist in the luxury watch industry) the quiet arrival of the Type 20 Extra Special is due to the fact that Zenith did not want to advertise the fact that the watch is actually powered by a modified automatic Sellita 300 movement.
Now, I’m sure more than a few of you are staring at your screens right now and thinking ‘so what, who cares? I thought lots of brands used bought movements?’ And you would be correct, lots of brands do use modified movements purchased from external suppliers (namely ETA), however Zenith is not generally one of them.
In fact, up until this point, all watches in the Pilot Type 20 collection were powered by in-house movements. Undoubtedly this is one of the factors that makes them so attractive to fans of the brand, and watch lovers in general for that matter.
The flipside of that coin however is that it also makes them substantially more expensive, thus shutting out a sizable chunk of potential consumers who are more than willing to spend $5k but cannot quite stretch to $10k. There’s a lot more of those types of customers than you think and Zenith wants a share of them.
The solution therefore is the Type 20 Extra Special. A highly desirable watch made more affordable thanks to the use of an external movement. It’s a bold move to be sure, not to mention a risky one, and could certainly end up backfiring on Zenith but I don’t think it will.
Now admittedly the feedback from the purists has been less than complimentary but that’s to be expected, as after all the Type 20 Extra Special was not made for them. And besides, the watch really looks great on the wrist.
Presented in an oversized 45mm steel case, the Type 20 Extra Special has all the features of a classic, vintage-inspired, Pilot’s watch; oversized onion crown, clear, easy to read dial, supple Nabuck leather strap, it really is the whole package (aesthetically speaking, at least.)
Judging by the color scheme the watch has been designed with a younger, more fashionable audience in mind and given its more affordable price point I have no doubt it will be a hit with its target market.
It’s a nice way to round out the Type 20 collection and in time I think even the most hardened enthusiasts will come to realize that this was actually a logical move for Zenith. It’s not a precursor to the brand switching exclusively to third party movements – as some rumour mills would have us believe – but rather an acknowledgement that not everyone that loves Zenith’s watches can afford the extra cost of an in-house movement, even if they would like to.
So rather than speculating about the hidden meanings of the quiet launch of the Zenith Type 20 Extra Special, let’s just appreciate it for what it is, a nice looking watch at an affordable price point.
The Type 20 Extra Special should be available in stores shortly and will retail for US$5,400. And in case you were wondering, the term ‘Extra Special’ on the dial is a reference to Zenith’s early WWII pilot’s watches, which featured the same words.
To find out more about the Type 20 Extra Special visit the Zenith website.
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