Europa Star


Zenith at cruising speed

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March 2013


(A continuation of the article “Surrounding the SIHH...”) During the SIHH Zenith rented the Presidential Suite of the Hotel Kempinsky, and from the table where it presented its new pieces, you could admire a Jacuzzi seemingly suspended in front of the landscape of Lake Geneva.

Since Jean-Frédéric Dufour took over as manager, the brand has gained in followers, horological legitimacy and commercial success what it lost in bling and glitz. After putting the excellent El Primero movement back at the heart of the range, after repositioning the brand’s product ranges, reducing the number of references and applying a policy of correct pricing, Zenith can permit itself new adventures that strengthen its horological legitimacy. Having said that, however, the only mechanical “folly” that the brand has indulged in is a new version of the Academy Christophe Colomb, the 45-mm Hurricane model. What differentiates this piece—equipped like its predecessor with the spectacular Gravity Control universal joint suspension system, a gyroscopic carriage directly inspired by marine chronometers, which, besides the advantage of amplitude regularity, gives the piece its very particular sapphire bulge—is that the Hurricane comes with a new fusee-chain transmission system that provides a constant and totally stable force over the entire 50-hour power reserve. The 585 component parts of the 18-cm micro-chain, capable of resisting a force of 3 kg, are made and assembled by the watchmaker Vianney Halter. This exceptional work is perfectly visible on the open-worked dial of the watch. And, although uncommon at Zenith, at CHF 254,000, the price of these pieces in the limited series of 25 watches is also at the zenith.

ACADEMY CHRISTOPHE COLOMB 45mm HURRICANE by Zenith
ACADEMY CHRISTOPHE COLOMB 45mm HURRICANE by Zenith
CAPTAIN WINDSOR ANNUAL CALENDAR by Zenith
CAPTAIN WINDSOR ANNUAL CALENDAR by Zenith

Another watchmaker of renown, Ludwig Oechslin, curator of the Musée International d’Horlogerie in La Chaux-de-Fonds, developed a version of his annual calendar for Zenith. The great advantage of his model is that it has only nine moving parts as compared to the other annual calendars that require between thirty and forty mobile units. This superb and very ingenious development (one of Oechslin’s many strokes of genius is to understand better than anyone else how to simplify and radicalise mechanical solutions) equips the Captain Windsor Annual Calendar timepiece, reserved for the brand’s own boutiques, shops-in-shop, and large corners. In an outstanding smoked steel case, it sells for CHF 9,400, a remarkable price for an annual calendar and this useful complication.

Surrounding the SIHH: space stations and satellites

Hautlence / Moser: Baptism of fire for a family holding company Vogard: An independent under pressure
Heritage: Towards chronometric perfection Hublot’s aircraft carrier
Zenith at cruising speed TAG Heuer: Towards the future, via the 1960s
Urwerk: Very high mechanical interactivity De Bethune: The emotion… finally

Source: Europa Star February - March 2013 Magazine Issue