Zenith - The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT Geneva Saturday, November 10, 2018 | Phillips

Create your first list.

Select an existing list or create a new list to share and manage lots you follow.

  • Manufacturer: Zenith
    Year: Circa 1972
    Case No: Italian army issue number: 201'146
    Model Name: Cairelli CP-2
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 146DP, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Original stainless steel expandable bracelet
    Dimensions: 43mm Diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by L. Ten. Gabriele Ingrosso's Order of Starfigthers membership card and Mach Deuce rating card, Riserva Diavoli Rossi marble plaque in Starfighter F-104 presentation box, 6 Stormo medal, Italian Navy pin and "Il 154 Gruppo Volo Diavoli Rossi" book with dedication to Gen. Gabriele Ingrosso.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The appeal of a military timepiece resides only partly in the rarity of the watch. What is most fascinating are the outstanding tales such objects have been witnesses to, the fact that when one wears a military issued watch, a piece of history is residing on one’s wrist.

    The present wristwatch unquestionably embodies such ethos. The Zenith Cairelli was a pilot’s wristwatch supplied to the Italian Aeronautica Militare (and later available to the general public) through Rome-based retailer Cairelli during the 1970s. This example is offered by its original owner, General Gabriele Ingrosso (at the time of issue, Luogotenente - Lieutenant) to whom it was assigned in 1973 from the Ghedi (Brescia) airbase of the 6th fighter-bomber squad. The collector will be delighted to know that the watch was issued in this exact condition, including the bracelet which was chosen for the ease with which it allowed the donning/un-donning of the piece.

    Born in the small village of Tradate, Italy in 1948, Ingrosso began his flying career at the age of 17 in early 1966 when he studied, thanks to a loan from his father, for the 1st degree piloting license. His achievements earned him a 250’000 lire scholarship to obtain the 2nd degree license, after which he entered the Military Academy in 1968. After his graduation in 1972, he began the military piloting school flying, Aermacchi MB-326 planes and subsequently Fiat G.91 machines. In 1973, he was one of ten cadets selected to fly the Lockheed F-104 “Starfighter”, and it is at this point that he received his Zenith Cairelli. In 1982, he was the first Italian pilot to attend the course to fly the at-the-time revolutionary multi-role combat aircraft Panavia “Tornado” in Great Britain, a course which he passed with the highest marks of the entire NATO unit thanks to the higher familiarity with high speed/low altitude flying experience which he had acquired in Italy. On August 27, 1982 he landed at the Ghedi Airstrip with the first “Tornado” (M.M. 7006) delivered to the Italian Air Force, and his Cairelli on the wrist. He continued to fly until 1985 at which point, rather than taking a “desk job” in the military, he retired as Colonel and was conferred the honorific title of General.

    In 2007, on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of his inaugural Tornado flight, he was gifted the book offered together with the watch which details the history of the “Diavoli Rossi” (Red Devils) 154th flying group to which he belonged. His name, and pictures of him appear multiple times in the publication.

    According to General Ingrosso, the present watch was at his wrist for most if not all of his missions, totalling about 2,700 hours of flight time, more than 1,500 of these on F-104 “Starfighters”.

    Fully embodying all the appeal and thrill a military piece summons in the heart of collectors, and offered in absolutely original condition, this Cairelli presents without a doubt one of the most transparent and intriguing military provenances to ever grace an auction room in recent times.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1865

    Since Zenith's beginnings, founder George Favre-Jacot sought to manufacture precision timepieces, realizing quality control was best maintained when production was housed under one roof. Zenith remains one of the few Swiss manufacturers to produce their own in-house movements to this day.

    Today, the brand is best known for the "El Primero," the firm's most successful automatic chronograph movement. In an interesting twist of fate, the company that owned Zenith during the 1970s decided to move on to quartz movements and therefore sought to destroy the parts and tools necessary to make mechanical movements. One watchmaker realized this folly and hid the tools and parts before they were destroyed. In 1984, he returned them to Zenith so they could once again make the El Primero movement.

    View More Works



A fine and rare stainless steel pilot's chronograph wristwatch with bracelet and original Lockheed cards, military medal, plaque and pin, retailed by Cairelli and issued to L. Ten. Gabriele Ingrosso, first Italian pilot of Tornado aircrafts

Circa 1972
43mm Diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for CHF16,250

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
Head of Sale
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: EIGHT

Geneva Auction 10-11 November 2018