Zenith: a great auction result for a noble cause

November 2022

Zenith: a great auction result for a noble cause

During the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction: XVI and after intense bidding, the one-off Zenith Calibre 135-O Unique Piece made in collaboration with Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo auction house and independent watchmaker and restoration expert Kari Voutilainen fetched CHF 315’000. All proceeds from the sale of this exceptional piece, endowed with a historical and award-winning observatory chronometer movement housed in a niobium case and salmon guilloché dial, will be donated to Susan G. Komen®.


hen the Zenith X Voutilainen X Phillips 10-piece limited edition Calibre 135-O in platinum was unveiled this summer, it struck a deeply resonating chord in discerning collectors. It marked the first time ever that Zenith had made its most prized movement from the golden age of chronometry competitions available for acquisition.

The Manufacture and its Heritage Department had entrusted renowned watchmaker Kari Voutilainen with the task of restoring a batch of Calibre 135-O movements and hand-decorating them to the highest possible degree. The 11th watch to feature one of these priceless movements, the Calibre 135-O unique piece is rendered even more exceptional as the only example crafted in a niobium case and paired with a guilloché salmon dial and rose gold coloured movement.

The auctioning of this singular piece by Phillips marks the finishing act to a month when Zenith has been actively rallying behind the cause of Breast Cancer Awareness. It follows the launch of the Chronomaster Original Pink edition, from which a portion of the sales proceeds were donated to Susan G. Komen® and the MEET THE DREAMHERS event held in Singapore that bolstered the Manufacture’s commitment to fight breast cancer and support one of the world’s leading foundations.

Zenith: a great auction result for a noble cause

On the auction of this unique piece and the overall support Zenith is lending to Susan G. Komen®, Zenith CEO Julien Tornare shared, “I’m honoured to come together again with Phillips and Kari Voutilainen for a truly exceptional piece, and for a cause that is truly close to our hearts. The Calibre 135 Observatoire Unique Piece is more than just a highly embellished and invaluable piece of Zenith history, it’s a symbol of our hope and promise to continue fighting against breast cancer alongside Susan G. Komen®. 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the Calibre 135-O Unique Piece will directly be donated to Susan G. Komen, which we’re proud to continue supporting in the coming months and years. I sincerely thank Phillips, Kari Voutilainen and everyone who bid on this piece and has helped contribute to a noble cause”.

Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant, Bacs & Russo and Alexandre Ghotbi, Head of Watches, Continental Europe & Middle East, jointly stated, “We are incredibly proud to be continuing our collaborative journey with Zenith and Kari Voutilainen to produce an 11th example of the Cal 135-O, this time uniquely cased in Niobium with a striking salmon dial and a movement finish matching the dial colour. From the beginning, this project has been one of friendship and we couldn’t think of a better way to close the adventure with a unique piece going to such a good cause.”

Kari Voutilainen added, “This stunning salmon colour dial ZENITH Calibre 135-O, with the unique history behind it, in a unique case, with a unique dial, will be the only one now and forever."

Zenith: a great auction result for a noble cause

The movement selected for this unique piece belongs to the famous “serial-winning” years from 1950-1954, when the Calibre 135-O won the Neuchâtel Observatory chronometry competition 5 years in a row – an unheard of and unmatched feat. It was prepared and fine-tuned all year by the Zenith Laboratoire de Chronométrie, with dedicated chronométriers building it up as Zenith’s champion movement. It was awarded a prize within the 1st category range and had been regulated by celebrated Zenith chronométrier René Gygax, who worked with Charles Fleck on the prize-winning movement for several years and bolstered Zenith’s reputation as an undisputed leader in precision chronometry.

A singular watch with an unmatched legacy, the Calibre 135 Observatoire Unique Piece draws inspiration from several 1950s references by combining the most emblematic details with contemporary accents. The 38mm round case is crafted in niobium, a metal used for the very first time by Zenith and features tapered lugs that seamlessly fit under the bezel, as well as an oversized notched crown emblazoned with the modern Zenith star logo.

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