Panerai isn't the only watch brand with Italian military heritage. In the 1960s both the Marina Militare and the Aeronautica Militare Italiana (Italy's Navy and Air Force) commissioned chronographs from Swiss watchmaker Zenith for its pilots flying Lockheed F104 Starfighters.
These watches, codenamed TIPO CP-2, powered by Zenith's Calibre DP 146, with two counters, a bold 43mm case for legibility and a dial designed for ease of use while doing Mach 1, are understandably highly coveted by collectors.
The top-flight instrument was a beacon of reliability that "proved a determining factor in the precision of the missions on which it served," the brand's archives note, as well as being "an eminently useful piece of back-up equipment complementing the onboard instruments installed in the cockpit."
It "belongs to the exclusive circle of legendary chronographs that have earned the status of exceptional timepieces in both military and watchmaking history," Zenith notes. Small wonder many of the pilots developed a strong attachment to their TIPO CP-2s, which could not be purchased by civilians.
Now the Swiss brand is rectifying that with a newly issued version dubbed the Heritage Cronometro TIPO CP-2 in a 1,000-piece limited edition series featuring an automatic movement from Zenith's famed El Primero with a 50-hour power reserve.
The badass bit of kit costs $7,700 and looks just a good with a well-tailored suit as a leather flight jacket. And this time, you alone get to decide what kind of missions to take it on.....