IT all started with a photograph, specifically that of a dapper Don Draper, fictional character in the TV series Mad Men, straddling a motorcycle while garbed in his trademark suit.
On the last Sunday of September (falling on the 30th this year), as tradition has dictated in the past five years, the 2018 edition of the Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride, or DGR, will take place in more than 650 cities in 95 countries. In each of these gatherings, men will be riding vintage and classic—or classic-looking—motorcycles while dressed as dapperly as Don Draper.
And, just like in 2016 and 2017, Zenith is marking the occasion by presenting its special Heritage Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Ton Up Black.
Referring to the “Ton-up boys” of café racer culture in the 1950s and 1960s in the UK, Zenith’s own Pilot Ton Up Black is as stripped down and industrial as the motorcycles from which it took inspiration. Generously sized at 45 millimeters, its aged stainless-steel case and dial are finished in matte black, complementing the watch’s decidedly vintage-themed numerals, hands and oversized onion crown, as well as the distressed nuback leather strap with white stitching. An elaborately rendered image of a rider atop a café racer is also engraved on the caseback.
Beneath the surface, the Pilot Ton Up Black is seriously compelling—it is powered by Zenith’s El Primero calibre 4069 self-winding column wheel chronograph, which directly traces its origin to no less than the original El Primero that raced for world’s first automatic chronograph honors in 1969. Beating at 36,000 vph and reckoned to have a 50-hour power reserve, the calibre 4069 is presently used by Zenith across its chronograph range, including some other Heritage Pilot Type 20, Elite, Cronometro Tipo and, of course, El Primero pieces.
Now, to also help in this year’s DGR fundraiser, Zenith has come up with five special renditions of the Pilot Ton Up Black called the Limited Edition 2018 DGR Ton Up. One of these watches, defined by a strap and dial with DGR markings, will be awarded to a distinguished gentleman who has signed up as a member of Team Zenith, and who has raised the most funds for the event.
Zenith said the DGR has become one of the world’s biggest charity fundraisers for men’s health—prostate cancer research and suicide prevention, in particular. The event, in behalf of its official charity partner The Movember Foundation, has raised over $13 million to date. This year it seeks to add $6 million more to the cause, with more than 120,000 elegantly dressed Don Drapers expected to mount their motorbikes.
Not bad for something inspired by a photograph.