You see it too, right?!
Yup, that big clear bubble thing coming out of the bottom of the watch dial. What is that!? A defect in the glass surely? Well no, it’s actually there on purpose…let me explain why.
Where to begin.
Well if you aren’t familiar with Zenith as a brand, let me fill you in very briefly.
- Founded in 1865
- 1969: Made arguably the world’s best chronograph movement, the El Primero.
- 2002 – 2009: The ‘Nataf’ years. Basically, the part that most people would like to forget about. Some good ideas, and some very bad ones!
- Present day: Quantum Leap back to 1969
The idea that Zenith – responsible for the automatic movement that powered arguably the most mass coveted watch in the world, the Rolex Daytona – are still an underrated brand is a puzzle in itself. Many would attribute it’s lack of presence down to those 7 years under the helm of flamboyant CEO Nataf, but even that doesn’t really explain it.
Here’s my take on it. Well, I don’t really have one, because I genuinely find it baffling! I’m a snob admittedly, but a world where a gold plated Michael Kors is held in higher regard by many compared to an Elite or Chronomaster is a world I’m a little pissed off at! So I’m using this, the crown jewel of the current Zenith line, to vent my frustrations!
Let’s get the tech spec out of the way first. 45mm in width (crown withstanding). Uses an El Primero based manual 8808 caliber movement with a 50 hour power reserve. Functions include an offset time display near the top of the dial, a power reserve indicator at the right side of the dial, an equation of time indicator on the left (I’ll explain what this does for anyone unfamiliar with the term) and most important of all a multi-axis gyroscopic escapement module inside that curved glass sphere at the bottom.
The name of the model originates from the said gyro thingy which holds the XL sized escapement. This in turn sits on gimbals, or what is also known as a “Cardan suspension” - a pivoted support that allows the rotation of an object about a single axis. In a ship a minimum of 3 of these gimbals are needed “to allow an inertial navigation system (stable table) to remain fixed in inertial space, compensating for changes in the ship’s yaw, pitch, and roll”…basically they compensate for the way a ship gets thrown around the water by minimising the effects it has on the mechanical navigation tool used on many older ships, including, you guessed it, the ship used by good old Christopher Columbus many centuries ago!
Equation of Time complication: In layman’s terms (i.e the only way that I can understand things) a ‘day’ in solar terms is not exactly 24 hours. The time varies by up to plus or minus 16 minutes a day depending on the time of year and the Earth’s position in relation to the sun. The EoT complication shows how many minutes plus/minus that solar day is in relation to the regular 24 hours that are displayed normally.
My Prerogative is…
So what is so great about this spinning escapement that warrants the watch to cost north of £150,000 (USD $240,000)? Let’s be honest, the mechanism’s function is to regulate the effects of gravity in all directions against the performance of the watch, thereby making it more accurate. Whilst it does do that, the real reason this has been made is in order to showcase the capabilities of the engineers and designers at Zenith. Full stop. If you want an accurate watch, buy a Casio or some atomic watch for under $100. No mechanical watch comes close to those in terms of accuracy, that’s a fact. The reason people like me or you want watches like this Zenith is for the same reasons they made it. Luxury gadget mixed with (without sounding corny) mechanical art. The shit looks so good! And despite that huge growth coming out from the crystal it still has an air of refinement to it. The dial is plain and clear, the size is manageable and the gyro-escapement moving around inside the world’s most expensive snow globe is something that continuously needs to be looked at!
My frustrations are more to do with the lack of appreciation for the brand. They are often cast aside in favour of other more ‘boisterous’ companies, but I feel that they have really returned to what made them so good in previous years, and it’s a shame they get little credit for it. I mean damn, I was looking to buy an 18k rose gold Zenith 1969 re-issue, and found them for circa £5k! For a solid 18k rose gold El Primero! Come on! How?! Safe to say, it”s a strong contender to be my next purchase
The price for this particular gyroscopic wonder is far from cheap, but I have seen technically lesser offerings from other brands sell for 2 or 3 times the price, so in the grand scheme of things, I’m still too poor to afford it so nothing else matters *cries*
- Blazer – Replay, Madrid
- Shirt – Emmett, London
- Cufflinks – Custom vintage Omega movements (#nerd)
The actual watch in the pictures we took above is case number 0 (!) and is available from UK retailer Marcus Watches. We shots a lot of the photos inside their very plush 4 floor showroom on New Bond Street in London.