Super flying man and new friend of the ZENITH brand Franky Zapata commemorated the 110th anniversary of Louis Bleriot’s historic 1909 flight across the English Channel with his first attempt re-enact the feat on his jet-propelled Flyboard. While Bleriot was flying his own plane, assisted by Zenith on-board instruments, Zapata piloted his legendary jet-propelled Flyboard Air accompanied by a Zenith Type 20 Chronograph Adventure watch – a natural heir to the on-board instruments developed by ZENITH in the early years of aeronautics, known for their precision, sturdiness and outstanding legibility.

On July 25th 2019, exactly 110 years after Bleriot’s groundbreaking flight, Zenith’s latest Friend of the Brand, Franky Zapata, attempted his first flight from France to England with this resolutely 21st century flying machine. Joystick in hand, Zenith Pilot Adventure on his wrist. Due to unfavourable weather conditions however, Franky Zapata was unable to complete the crossing, as the heavy seas made it nearly impossible to safely land on the mid-flight refuelling station mounted on a boat. Taking the experience in stride and more determined than ever, Franky Zapata has announced that he will take on the challenge again in the coming days.

Franky Zapata

Pushing the boundaries of what seems possible and inspiring individuals to make their dreams come true  are all part of the Zenith DNA. Just like Louis Bleriot before him, whose earlier flight attempts had earned him the nickname “the king of wrecks” before finally succeeding in crossing the English Channel 1909, every flight allows Franky Zapata to improve his craft and bring him one step closer to fulfilling his vision.  Born in Marseille in 1978, entrepreneur, inventor, top athlete and flying man Franky Zapata initially dreamed of flying on water. Combined with Zapata’s athletic prowess is an indomitable pioneering spirit, along with an unwavering commitment to helping thrill-seekers and city slickers alike reach for the stars.

Zapata’s unique and innovative approach to personal flight comes from extensive experience in hydroflight, along with the use of turbine engines over conventional electric propellers, as well as intuitive flight controls designed around the human body. Capable of vertical take-off and landing (VTOL) and unprecedented individual mobility, the jet-powered Flyboard Air features the Zapata© technology platform is reputedly the safest, easiest, lightest, most manoeuvrable personal aviation system ever created. Today barely bigger than a large drone, and driven by means of “mass transfer”, like a Segway, the Flyboard Air is propelled by five mini jet engines allowing it some ten minutes of flying time prior to requiring refuelling. It is driven by means of a handheld joystick to adjust the thrust.

Zenith Type 20 Chronograph Adventure Watch

Unparalleled versatility

Comfortable and robust, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure is equipped with an automatic El Primero column- wheel chronograph movement and a 50-hour power reserve. Guaranteeing trademark Pilot easy readability with a grained khaki green dial packing oversized Arabic numerals entirely made of Super-LumiNova®, the bronze 45 mm Pilot Type 20 Adventure features the wide easily adjustable ratcheted crown of the original aviation instruments that inspired this must-have piece of 21st century kit, along with a battle-ready khaki matrix calfskin leather strap and fully-interchangeable complimentary camouflage fabric alternative, both with protective rubber linings and titanium pin buckles.

Said Louis Bleriot of his trusty Zenith Pilot watch after his 37-minute crossing: “I cannot recommend it highly enough to people in search of precision”.

Designed by pioneers with an irrepressible taste for innovation for pioneers determined to fulfil their dream, one hundred and ten years later, the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure has proven itself as the proud accessory to Franky Zapata’s modern-day exploits and the ultimate timepiece for modern-day adventurers on a mission to exceed all limits.