Zenith A. Cairelli CP-2 Chronograph

Zenith A. Cairelli CP-2 Chronograph

Why We Love It

Military watches, with their stark, function-first dials, sturdy cases, and reliable movements, are meant to be tough. But there are certain examples of military watches that are also undeniably beautiful. The Zenith A. Cairelli CP-2 is one of the latter.

What we consider most aesthetically pleasing about this piece is the crisp black dial paired with bold, luminous Arabic numerals. The dial is housed in a 42mm solid stainless steel case and features a beautifully faded bezel.

Inside beats the manual winding Calibre 146, which Zenith inherited after buying èbauche manufacturer Martel. Despite its humble beginnings, the Calibre 146 went on to be the base on which Zenith built its automatic chronograph movement, the world-famous El Primero. With a deceptively-beautiful exterior and a redoubtable movement, the CP- 2 has certainly become the stuff of collecting legend--a reputation that is well-deserved. 

The Story

The A. Cairelli was made according to military specifications, and it was meant to fly. Zenith produced the CP-2 for pilots in the Italian Air Force or Aeronautica Militare Italiana. It followed the CP-1, which was manufactured by Breitling and Leonidas for helicopter pilots in the Esercito Italiano--Italian Army. 

A. Cairelli--a retailer of primarily wristwatches and other aviation instruments--sold the Zenith Type CP-2 to the Italian military. They stamped their signature onto the dials of the watches they supplied to the pilots: glossy black dials with bold, luminous Arabic numerals. The twin chronograph registers are an exercise in balance, artfully-arranged on a horizontal axis. Naturally, the dial was designed to be legible in the low-light conditions of the cockpit, but there is something about its sparsity that is so attractive.

In all, 2500 of these chronographs were produced under Zenith's contract with the AMI, but not all of them saw military service. Those that were inducted into service received the engraving: AMI. These watches, true to their military heritage, often bear the scuffs and dings inevitable in the field, and their rotating bezels--surmounted by a luminous triangle at 12 o'clock--have often faded over the years.


SKU: AS02819

Stainless Steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown and pushers). Zenith Calibre 146DP Manual Winding Movement. Circa 1970s

Overall Condition: Case is in excellent condition overall, with light signs of wear throughout consistent with age and use. Stainless steel case is thick and sharp with normal signs of wear. Black dial is in excellent condition with all luminous material intact. Steel luminous handset. Zenith signed crown. Screw-down caseback with Italian military engravings.

Includes 20mm leather strap.

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