Clock Zenith Cairelli with Italian Royal Air Force tag, 1943

Clock Zenith Cairelli with Italian Royal Air Force tag, 1943

Clock made by ZENITH in aluminum and Bakelite in 1943 and installed on the control panels of Italian fighter and bomber aircraft of the Royal Air Force, such as Reggiane, Macchi, Savoia Marchetti, Fiat P. 08, Fiat Cr etc etc.

This clock has an 8-day power reserve: on the dial, in addition to the “ZENITH” brand and the aircraft assignment number “2-1968” as well as the well-known Italian brand "A. Cairelli" (Italian supplier for the Italian Royal Air Force), has still affixed since that time the original cartouche relating to the production of the same on "6 MARCH 1943 XXI" by the "Firm A. Cairelli Roma" on one side and on the other the typical "GA108" mark certainly relating to checks or acceptance by the Ministry.

The latter represents an absolute rarity as no other clocks are known to still have the original manufacturer's tag. This has therefore never been installed on any aircraft, it is new from the "factory". The number engraved on the dial "2-1968", the aircraft's assignment number, is present as it was supposed to be delivered shortly thereafter, but with the disastrous events that occurred, it was never delivered. The small scratch on the dial was certainly caused by the engraver when he engraved the assignment number. It is a very small and fine scratch but which I did not want to "recover" as I prefer it to retain the signs of times gone by.

There is also, at the bottom right at 6 o'clock of the dial, a very small lever to be released together with the side screw only in case of disassembly of the mechanism (these two details are currently only known on this model).

It is in perfect overall working condition and its aesthetic condition is excellent.

This exact version is of the type approved by the Ministry of the Italian Royal Air Force.

The Zenith Manufacture, founded almost 150 years ago, was one of the first watchmakers to supply timepieces and on-board instruments. And a new Pilot Montre d'Aéronef Type 20 pays homage to the centenary of the Naval Aviation, Italian Navy Flight Department.

In fact, Zenith is linked to Italy and its Armed Forces by a long and rich historical tradition. The Manufacture began to collaborate with the Italian State Railways in 1909, a period in which railway connections played a strategic role for the times and the geographical position of the peninsula. In the 1920s, timepieces made for the Italian market numbered more than 65,000. Zenith watches were precise and robust, two indispensable qualities for supplies destined for the State Railways.

Meanwhile, coinciding with the birth of Naval Aviation, Zenith developed the first altimeters for the new European and US civil and military air fleets. The fame of the Manufacture and its wrist chronographs quickly spread among the Italian Armed Forces.

In the 1930s, Zenith paid homage to the Italian Navy by creating two models of oversized wrist chronographs (diameter of 46 mm compared to a maximum average of 32 mm at the time), embellished with the Navy coat of arms and the inscription "Regia Marina Italiana". The first model was made of gold and had two counters, while the second, made of steel, had three.

Starting in the 1930s, the Manufacture began making on-board watches for the Italian Armed Forces, distributed through the supplier Cairelli. In the 1960s and early 1970s, Cairelli turned directly to Zenith to supply the Italian Air Force with wrist chronographs accurate and robust enough to withstand the difficult conditions in which fighter aircraft operated. Those watches have become true icons of the brand.

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