Competition was in full swing in the summer of 1909 as pilots vied with each other to successfully meet the challenge of flying across the Channel set by the British newspaper The Daily Mail. As a true gentleman, Louis Blériot had allowed Hubert Latham, who had registered before him, to try first, but this attempt had proved unsuccessful.
On July 25, 1909
Louis Blériot achieved a major
first by crossing the English
Channel by air, with his Zenith
on his wrist
On July 25 1909, at 4:15 am, the wind had dropped at Calais and it seemed like a propitious time to accomplish the feat. The latter was a daunting one indeed, since flying the 40 kilometers from Calais (France) to Dover (United Kingdom) in the early 20th century seemed more like a pipedream than a possibility. Not for Louis Blériot, who achieved this world first in 37 minutes. With his Zenith on his wrist, he took off aboard the Blériot XI, a frail ‘bird’ featuring a wooden frame and parchment-like wings.
The aviator's wristwatch that belonged to Louis Blériot
Calais, July 25, 1909 - 4:15 a.m.
Braving fears, turbulence, temperature variations, vibrations, noise and gravity, he flew over the sea. After long, drawn-out minutes that seemed to last an eternity, the white cliffs of Dover and the green coastline of England appeared in the distance. From then on, the Channel would no longer be considered an ocean, an unconquerable barrier, and the Frenchman hitherto nicknamed “le roi de la casse” (king of wrecks) became the undisputed father of aviation.
"I am extremely satisfied with the Zenith watch, which I use regularly, and cannot recommend it highly enough to people in search of precision"
Three years later, Louis Blériot stated: “I am extremely satisfied with the Zenith watch, which I use regularly, and cannot recommend it highly enough to people in search of precision.”. Since the brand with the guiding star had been one of the first to build flight instruments – notably altimeters and wristwatches – in the early days of aviation at the dawn of the 20th century, the paths of these two visionaries were undoubtedly destined to cross.