The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.

Introducing the Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Bronze—Brigadier General James B. Thayer Limited Edition



Last night in Portland, Oregon, Zenith Watches and Topper Fine Jewelers took part in a special event to help raise money for the Oregon Military Museum, and to honor a true American hero, Brigadier General James B. Thayer. The Oregon Military Museum is dedicated to honoring the service commitment and history of Oregonian servicemen and women. The fundraiser was organized by General Thayer's son, Tommy Thayer, who is also the lead guitarist of the legendary rock group KISS and a watch enthusiast.

A straight on view of the Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Bronze—Brigadier General James B. Thayer Limited Edition

The event was attended by an impressive collection of supporters, including an array of icons from the business, military, and entertainment industries. The event was highlighted by a performance of an all-star lineup of important musicians who donated their time and efforts to support the cause. Performing at the event were Tommy Thayer and his KISS bandmates-- Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and Eric Singer-- as well as Robby Krieger of the Doors, Danny Seraphine from the band Chicago, and Will Lee from The Late Show with David Letterman. A few of the hits they performed were Roadhouse Blues, Beth and Rock and Roll All Nite.

The Limited Edition Pilot Type 20 Brigadier General James B. Thayer with the evening's All-Star band playlist in the backdrop.

By all measures the evening was a tremendous success and raised $1.4 million toward the construction of the museum.

Brigadier General Thayer served a lifetime of illustrious military service, but will perhaps best be remembered for what transpired in May, 1945 at the tail end of World War II. General Thayer was then a 2nd Lieutenant in the Army's 14th Infantry regiment. His platoon was in Austria on a reconnaissance mission, when he discovered 17,000 dying people who were left behind by fleeing German soldiers at the Gunskirchen Lager concentration camp. Thayer and his soldier's discovery of the camp and their assistance to those people saved thousands of lives.

For the fundraiser, Zenith donated two special 18kt rose gold and titanium Pilot Extra Special Limited Edition watches. One piece was presented to General Thayer at the event. The second piece was auctioned for an impressive $40,000 which was then matched by an anonymous donor resulting in an $80,000 donation to the museum!

One of two titanium and rose gold Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Special watches on alligator strap. (Photo courtesy of Zenith)

Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer Present one of two titanium and rose gold Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra Specials to Brigadier General James B. Thayer. To see a short video of the presentation, click here.

In addition, Zenith also created a 25-piece limited edition Pilot Type 20 Extra Special watch in bronze. The limited edition watch is a special military themed version of the Pilot Type 20 Extra Special that Zenith released two years ago. This new variant features an ammo leather strap, a special case back dedicated to Brigadier General Thayer, special packaging, and a letter from Brigadier General Thayer describing his experience on that fateful day at Gunskirchen Lager. My brother Russ and I are proud that Topper Jewelers will be the exclusive authorized dealer for this watch.

How did this special watch come to be? As Roberta Naas details in her Forbes profile of the event, KISS drummer (and our good friend) Eric Singer was instrumental in connecting Tommy Thayer with Zenith and in designing the watch that honors General Thayer:

"Eric is the one who initially suggested we reach out to Jean-Claude Biver, who was very excited about the cause," says Thayer. "Eric also helped steer me in the right direction about which watch style to choose and worked with me and Zenith throughout the project" ... "This piece features a very special strap that, according to Tommy Thayer, was Eric Singer's idea: a strap made of leather from actual World War II ammunition bags.

For the theme, I think the Pilot Extra Special in bronze was a great canvas to begin with because Tommy wanted to pick a watch that not only honored his dad, but was also a tribute to all the armed forces throughout the history of service by Oregonian servicemen and women. In this respect, the Pilot Extra Special in bronze is a fitting choice as the design harkens back to early pilot watches (Air Force), its bronze material is most often associated with nautical watches (Navy/Marines/Coast Guard), and the watch strap and case have been modified to celebrate the Army. It's a fitting piece to celebrate all our military heroes.

KISS guitarist Tommy Thayer with his father retired BG James B. Thayer. (photo: Vern Uyetake).

The watch is priced at $7,200 and is available immediately and exclusively from Topper Fine Jewelers. To reserve yours, please call 888-730-2221 or email us at andrea@topperjewelers.com. Specific number requests of the 25-piece limited edition will be accommodated on a first-come basis.

The Pilot Type 20 Extra Special Brigadier General James B. Thayer Limited Edition on ammo leather strap.

Each of the 25-piece limited edition is uniquely numbered on the case side.

The titanium case back features an engraving of James B. Thayer in uniform during World War II and recognition of the Oregon Military Museum.

The buckle side of the special ammo leather strap with the honoree's name embossed.

The special ammo leather strap with ecru stitching have a beautiful antiqued styling.

Each piece of the limited edition comes with a letter from Brigadier General Thayer recounting the events of May 1945 and the courageous acts that led to the discovery of the Austrian death camp and the saving of thousands of Hungarian Jews.

The letter from Brigadier General Thayer describing the discovery and liberation of the people held at the Austrian death camp.

The Oregon Military Museum includes various wartime era displays of artifacts used by servicemen and women, and decorations given to celebrate their commitment and contributions. Shown here is a display from World War II.

The museum also focuses on the lives of Oregonian soldiers who fought throughout their history of military service. Shown here is actual surviving World War I gear.

The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.