This new sports model wit a featherweight engine is an exclusive version of the El Primero Striking 10th chronograph. Discover the world of high-tech materials and avant-garde made by Zenith and let me know what you think
At the time of its launch in 1969, the El Primero caliber overturned existing conventions by asserting itself as the first-ever automatic chronograph to boast an integrated construction. Also impressing at that time the exceptional high frequency of 10 vibrations per hour (36.000 A/h = 36.000 vibrations per hour). Even today it is still the world’s most precise series-made chronograph caliber. Over the years, Zenith has steadily fine-tuned its El Primero in order to optimize its precision, reliability and performance. The in Le Locle based Manufacture has also taken up the challenge of associating its high-frequency chronograph with other complications such as the tourbillon, the perpetual calendar and the split-second function.
In 2010 Zenith reinvented the “jumping seconds” by presenting the El Primero Striking 10th. Equipped with a sweep seconds hand making ten jumps per second and a complete turn of the dial every ten seconds, this chronograph not only measures but also displays tenths of a second with extreme precision. To enhance the performance of the mechanism requiring a considerable amount of energy, the watchmakers fitted it with a double chronograph wheel in silicon, a material three and a half times lighter than classic alloys.
The maxims of the new Zenith El Primero Striking 10th are lightness, performance and originality. Through combining technological innovation with creative daring, the engineers and watchmakers of the Manufacture were tasked with the mission of reducing the weight of the watch to an absolute minimum, yet without making any compromises on its precision, its sturdiness and its reliability.
The sizeable feat began with the movement. Zenith chose titanium – a light and resistant metal widely used in aeronautics – to machine the main elements of the movements that are the heaviest parts of the watch when they are made in brass: namely the main plate and five bridges: the barrel bridge, balance bridge, pallet bridge, pallet-wheel bridge and the chronograph bridge. The Manufacture has also maintained the silicon double chronograph wheel, while adding a lever and an escape wheel made from the same high-tech, light, antimagnetic material that is harder than steel and guarantees excellent efficiency.
The stunning result is a one-quarter lighter engine weighing just 15,45 grams, compared to 21,1 grams for a similar classic movement.
The designers reworked the watch exterior and subtly enlarged it to 45 mm. The original case of the El Primero Striking 10th measures 42 mm. The task was to make it as light as possible on the wrist, so the choice of carbon with its fine black color and its “chequered” effect evoking the world of competitive racing fits the bill perfectly, while also reinforcing the technical and sporty look of the model.
The inner structure of the case is made of ceramised aluminum, a cutting-edge material that is at once light, sturdy and hard (1800 Vickers, as against 160-200 for 316L steel).
The two chronograph push pieces are in titanium.
The open worked lugs accentuate the profile of the watch and ensure a perfect flow into the integrated black rubber “Nomex” synthetic fiber strap equipped with a triple folding clasp providing optimal security and comfort.
Its dial featuring a dynamic reinterpretation of the collection’s design codes also distinguishes the new El Primero Lightweight. Open working the central part further enhanced the overall lightness-oriented effect while providing a clear view of the El Primero calibre, that is of course also visible through the transparent case back. The disc-type date display has been lightened and reworked with pierced numerals standing out on a small red disc at 6 o’clock.
The facetted hands have been hollowed as much as possible and then highlighted by a luminescent coating.
The light grey, blue and anthracite colors recapture the three characteristic colors of the 1969 El Primero chronograph that have become iconic brand features.
The red sweep seconds hand with its small Zenith star accurately measures feats to the nearest tenth of a second.
The El Primero Lightweight model brings a distinctive touch to the Zenith collections, while powerfully confirming the innovative capacities and the creating daring cultivated by the Manufacture.
The Zenith El Primero Lightweight is issued in a 100-piece limited edition.
So guys, is the watch cool or not cool? What do you think? In some ways we have seen comparable sports watches already. When I first saw the Zenith during Baselworld I thought this is a Jaeger-LeCoultre. Also I discovered details you find at Richard Mille watches. So is Zenith late presenting such an avant-garde timepiece?
No doubt, with its avant-garde technology and its youthful, dynamic look and it shows that the El Primero caliber still has a bright future ahead of it and doubtless heralds new developments as Zenith is gearing up to celebrate its 150th anniversary in 2015.
Technical Data El Primero Lightweight
El Primero 4052 W, automatic
Calibre: 13 ¼ ‘’’ (diameter : 30 mm)
Thickness: 6.60 mm
Frequency: 36.000 A/h – (= 5 Hz)
Power reserve: min. 50 hours
Finishes: Oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” pattern
Titanium components: main plate, barrel bridge, balance bridge, chronograph bridge, pallet bridge and pallet-wheel bridge
Hours and minutes in the center
Small seconds at 9 o’clock
Date window at 6 o’clock
Chronograph with 1/10th second display:
– 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock
– 60-second counter at 3 o’clock
– I/10th second indication by the chronograph hand
Case, Dial and hands
Diameter: 45 mm
Opening diameter: 38.50 mm
Crystal: Cambered sapphire crystal glare proofed on both sides
Case back: Transparent sapphire crystal
Water resistance: 10 ATM
Dial: Open worked with three colored counters
Hour-markers: Rhodiumed, facetted and enhanced with Superluminova SLN C1
Hands: Rhodiumed, facetted and enhanced with Superluminova SLN C1
Nomex-coated black rubber strap and black triple folding clasp
15.400 Euro including 19 % VAT in Germany.