In the 1960s, the Italian Air Force acquired the new F104S, the ultimate version of the Lockheed Starfighter, built in Italy by Aeritalia; it may not have been the smartest decision. Over the life of the aircraft 38% of them were lost, eclipsing even the loss rate of the Luftwaffe where the plane became known as the ‘Widowmaker’.
So F104S pilots had a tough life, but at least the Italian Air Force gave them nice watches to wear whilst flying, they got the Zenith CP-2 chronograph; a manual wind oversized two register chronograph watch with a rotating bezel. 2,500 were supplied via the Rome dealer A. Cairelli whose name was proudly printed on the dial above the 6.
Three years ago Zenith jumped on the homage gravy train and introduced a revival of the CP-2 (CP stands for cronometro polso or wrist chronometer); unlike many brands, Zenith were very restrained in the design of the new watch and it is an almost perfect copy of the original, apart from the word ‘Automatic’ replacing the retailer’s name on the dial.
The movement is no longer the 17 jewel manual one; rather it is a two register version of the famed El Primero automatic column wheel movement, the 405 beating at 36,000 bph, equipped with 35 jewels.
The dial is matt black with full luminous Arabic numerals, oversized registers at 9 for the continuous seconds and at 3 for the 30 minute counter, there is an applied Zenith star just below the 12 and an outer minutes/seconds scale divided into fifths. The hour & minute hands are sword type with heavy luminous inserts, perfectly replicating the originals as is the slim sweep seconds hand with its triangular luminous insert near the tip.
The case is exactly the same size as the original and, like the original the rotating bezel, with 60 minute marks, rotates in both directions; the polished case unlike most current El Primeros does not have a display back. Rather the BRUSHED screw back simply bears the legend CHRONOMETRO TIPO CP 2. The case back is also numbered around the edge as unit 0287/1000, considerably less than the original 2,500.
The watch is in an unused condition and comes with every piece of paper and an unstamped guarantee; the limited edition is now completely sold out. Included with the watch is a limited edition 50th anniversary El Primero scented candle.
The watch is 43mm diameter, 52mm lug to lug; it is 12.85mm high and takes a 22 mm strap and the original leather strap with signed Zenith butterfly clasp is fitted
£3,995.00 (approx.$4,850.00 US)