Zenith’s El Primero chronograph movement is turning 50 this year, and the brand is celebrating with a host of new models. But, for us, its most exciting new launch is the innovative Defy Inventor, a 44mm titanium watch featuring the incredible ‘Zenith Oscillator’ control system. With this, the brand once again proves itself as a watchmaking pioneer, revolutionising the traditional sprung balance system used for more than three centuries.
So how does the Zenith Oscillator work? Put simply, the brand’s patented system features a single ultra-thin element a mere 0.5mm thick (compared with the 30 or more components in a standard regulating organ), eliminating any friction or wear. It’s made from a material called monocrystalline silicon, which is unaffected by changes in temperature and magnetic fields, and, if that wasn’t impressive enough, its escape wheel is made of flexible blades – another first in the watch industry. This incredible movement is visible through the openworked dial, which is surrounded by a bezel cast in Aeronith, the lightest aluminium composite in the world (for perspective, it’s three times lighter than titanium). Seriously impressive, it’ll retail at £17,600 (pictured).
Elsewhere, we love the new models in the Defy El Primero 21 collection, especially this 44mm model cast fully in black carbon, from the case and pushbuttons to the crown and buckle head. Inside ticks an automatic movement boasting a power reserve of at least 50 hours and numerous functions. Its 1/100th-of-a-second chronograph features a central chronograph hand which makes one turn each second, and has a 30-minute and 60-second counter on opposing sides. The openworked dial leaves the technology on display, while the black rubber strap is completely in-keeping with the design. It’s priced at £15,500.
We are also excited to be the first retailer in the UK to offer you the chance to own a ‘revival’ of the initial El Primero model from 1969, with the release of three solid-gold high-frequency chronographs to celebrate its 50th anniversary. The yellow-gold El Primero A386 Revival is, like its counterparts, a limited edition of 50 pieces, fitted with an automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph. Promising 50 years of warranty, what’s not to love?
Zenith’s El Primero creation remains the world’s most accurate chronograph, and the El Primero A386 continues to display the iconic original features of the 1969 version. We are big fans of the yellow-gold 38mm case, which is water-resistant to 100m and still houses a domed crystal, three coloured counters, a tachymeter scale, mushroom-like pushers and the original hands and hour-marker shapes. However, the hour-markers and hands are now faceted, gold-plated and coated with highly visible Super-LumiNova.
Acknowledging its heritage, the yellow-gold El Primero A386 sports a vintage-style brown alligator leather strap (although it has been enhanced with protective rubber lining) and a yellow-gold pin buckle to complement the composition of the case. The case back, which was initially closed, now displays the El Primero 400 Automatic movement through transparent sapphire crystal, which is anti-reflective on both sides.
Returning to the technicalities of the yellow-gold El Primero A386 and the Golden Jubilee theme, the movement houses a 50-hour minimum power reserve and an oscillating weight with a Côtes de Genève motif. The date indication is distinctively placed at 4.30, with the small seconds at 9 o’clock, the 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, and the 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. It’s £19,900.