Zenith A. Cairelli Chronograph
Why We Love it
Why We Love it–
Military watches, with their stark--usually black--dials, sturdy cases, and reliable movements, are meant to be tough. But there are certain examples of military watches, particularly chronographs, that are undeniably beautiful. The Zenith A. Cairelli CP-2 is one of the latter.
Like the heralded Type 20--the most famous example, of course, being the elusive and sought-after Breguet--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 aesthetically pleasing.
The cases are--as one can expect from a military chronograph--large, at an impressive 43mm. 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: Aeronautica Militare Italiana. These cases, 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. Ours has a handsomely-faded bezel and the requisite military markings that designate it as a true combat veteran.
Inside it beats the Zenith Caliber 146, which the brand inherited after buying èbauche manufacturer Martel. Despite its humble beginnings, the Caliber 146 went on to be the base on which Zenith built its automatic chronograph movement, the El Primero. With a deceptively-beautiful exterior and a redoubtable movement, the A. Cairelli has certainly become the stuff of collecting legend--a reputation that is well-deserved.
Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.
We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Shipping & Returns
Shipping & Returns+
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.
Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.
We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.
We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.
Zenith A. Cairelli Chronograph