Zenith Haute Horlogerie novelties

November 25, 2015


In celebrating its 150 years of existence, Zenith pays tribute to its illustrious founder, Georges Favre-Jacot, the visionary 22 year-old entrepreneur who created one of the first industrial Manufactures in 1865. It is to him that the company in Le Locle dedicates one of its most prestigious creations: the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane uniting technical and craftsmanship virtuosity within a 45 mm platinum case. Issued in a 10-piece limited edition, this exceptional timepiece born at the expert hands of the Zenith master-artisans, epitomises the spirit of innovation and excellence that has been guiding the Manufacture for a century and a half. This complex and refined masterpiece setting the stage for three major horological breakthroughs – a patented Gravity Control system, a fusée and chain transmission system and a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour – is adorned with a remarkable decor entirely engraved and micro-painted by hand, matched by a remarkably distinguished exterior.

Christopher Columbus and Georges Favre-Jacot undeniably share a pioneering spirit, a thirst for discovery and a love of challenges. The same desire for great endeavours guided them towards new horizons: the former when he faced the oceans to open the western route towards the Indies; and the second when he founded Zenith in 1865 by creating one of the first industrial Manufactures. 150 years later, the brand with the guiding star remains faithful to this quest for precision and innovation, notably illustrated by more than 300 patents, 600 movement variations and 2,333 distinctions in the field of chronometry: an absolute record. The Manufacture also demonstrated this attitude in 1969 when creating the legendary El Primero automatic movement, which is still the world’s most precise series-made chronograph calibre. But fine watchmaking is not confined to mechanisms. Continuing its tradition of refined watch exteriors, Zenith once again delights devotees of exceptional creation by presenting the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Georges Favre-Jacot: a 10-piece limited edition distinguished by a remarkable décor adorning the back of the watch. This veritable work of art represented a major challenge for the artisans, watchmakers and engineers who worked on the movement. They sometimes had to push the very limits of feasibility in order to accommodate this ornamentation within a 45 mm-diameter platinum case, topped by a cambered sapphire crystal, while avoiding any compromises in terms of precision and reliability. The result is a perfect illustration of Zenith’s creative daring and its ability to combine prodigious mechanisms with decors stemming from the most prestigious artistic crafts. Such an exceptional model deserved a perfect presentation box, and the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Georges Favre-Jacot is accordingly presented in a precious mahogany box adorned with an oxbone lock and corner trims, which can also serve as a cigar box once the watch has been removed.

On the dial side, Zenith sets the scene for the horological feats of this movement by creating an open structure enabling admirers to view three mechanisms in operation: the barrel with its fusée and chain transmission system (visible between 10 and 11 o’clock and between 1 and 2 o’clock), the gyroscopic Gravity Control system;and the high-frequency regulating organ (at 6 o’clock). This technical, three-dimensional look also leaves scope for intense aesthetic sophistication, as well as the expression of the finest artistic crafts that Zenith is committed to perpetuating in a spirit of excellence. The three gold subdials (hours/minutes at 12 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock, power reserve at 4 o’clock) are finely guilloché, white enamelled and fitted with blued hands and screws echoing the finest horological traditions. On the mainplate, meticulously hollowed by hand to make the Zenith logo stand out in relief along with a whole host of stars, the empty spaces have been filled with midnight blue lacquer. The counterweight of the Gravity Control system also features a sophisticated motif in the form of a micro-engraved interpretation of the Zenith logo.

While the dial is a work of excellence in its own right the back of the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Georges Favre-Jacot also reveals a fascinating decor. This colourful, depth-effect miniature painting dedicated to the brand founder highlights the virtuosity of highly skilled and experienced artisans. Fixed to the movement by means of a sophisticated system of gold appliques, the scene masterfully illustrates the creation of the Manufacture in 1865. Crafted around the mechanism echoing the gimbal suspension systems of marine chronometers, the foreground of this infinitely delicate work shows the figure of Georges Favre-Jacot, hand-engraved in delicately patinated 18K gold. Facing him is a watchmaker seated at his workbench, complete with his loupe, overalls and the traditional tools of mechanical watchmaking. The precision and degree of detailing on this hand-engraved, vividly coloured motif are truly striking. The background depicts the Manufacture, also made of gold and micro-painted, against a stunning hand-painted winter sky evoking the long winters of yesteryear that turned farmers into watchmakers. A wealth of ingenuity was required to incorporate this brilliantly executed scene, notably by finding fastening points for the applied elements and by reducing to an absolute minimum the movement thickness as well as the spaces between the calibre and the ornamentation (less than a tenth of a millimetre beneath the figurines). Entirely hand-crafted by artisans gifted with exceptional dexterity, the fabulous decor of the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Georges Favre-Jacot makes each timepiece truly one-of-a-kind.

As the mechanical watch gradually winds down, the movement loses amplitude (the angle of oscillation of the balance wheel) and thus also suffers a loss of precision. Conversely, the fusée and chain transmission system enables the driving force to remain perfectly stable throughout the entire duration of the power reserve, since the dedicated iso-torque shape of the fusée serves to compensate for the progressive reduction in the force of the barrel. Most pocket watches in the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries were equipped with a fusée, but very few Manufactures today are capable of fitting this mechanism within the confines of a wristwatch. With the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Georges Favre-Jacot, the Manufacture Zenith asserts its membership of this highly exclusive club. The transmission between the barrel and fusée is controlled by a 575-part, 18 cm-long chain. This extremely complex construction consists of alternating double and intermediate links. Once assembled, it is capable of withstanding a traction force equivalent to three kilos. Throughout the entire duration of the power reserve, the mainspring transmits its energy to the fusée via a chain that wraps around the barrel. By adjusting the variations in tension, the fusée evens out the rate at which the force is delivered to the going train – and from thence to the silicon escape-wheel fitted inside the gyroscopic cage. While it takes more than 50 hours (the duration of the power reserve) for the chain to wrap itself around the barrel, the process of manual winding via the crown-stem results in a truly fascinating sight. These few seconds are enough to see the fusée and barrel turning the opposite way to the normal running direction so that the chain once again wraps itself around the fusée. The shape of the latter was dictated by the optimal force that the Zenith master-watchmakers wished to deliver to the barrel. Its grooved contours as well as its specific dimensions stem from complex and lengthy calculations performed for each link on the construction. This fusée could doubtless never have been created without the integration of every profession (notably movement prototype making) within the Manufacture Zenith, nor without the use of sophisticated equipment. Therein lies one of the key strengths of an integrated Manufacture.

While the fusée and chain transmission system eliminates variations in isochronism (the equal duration of the oscillations), the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Georges Favre-Jacot also cancels out another effect that is detrimental to the smooth running of a mechanical watch: the influence of earthly gravity. Working on the principle that maintaining the regulating organ in an horizontal position engenders the best possible balance-wheel amplitude – and that the rate is adjusted in only one position and is therefore not the result of a compromise, thus ensuring the best possible timekeeping precision –, Zenith devised and patented a revolutionary module enabling the “heart” of the movement and the escapement to remain permanently in this position. An avant-garde system illustrating the creative daring of the Manufacture, the Gravity Control module is also a nod to its history, since it pays tribute to the marine chronometers that Zenith used to produce. It is indeed to the latter legendary instruments that it owes the gimbal suspension principle, introduced in the 16th century on marine compasses to ensure they remained horizontal despite the pitching and rolling of the ships. The Gravity Control system with its self-regulating gyroscopic mechanism serves to keep the regulating organ in a constantly horizontal position however the wrist is tilted – and thereby represents the ultimate evolution of the marine chronometer. The brand with the guiding star is the only Manufacture to master this system, which was distinguished at the 2011 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève in the “Best Complicated Watch” category, following its unveiling after a full five years of intense development.



Spectacular technical sophistication and precision, matched by eminently contemporary aesthetics and materials: the Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Titanium is a concentrated blend of manufacturing expertise and visionary spirit – two fundamental qualities nurtured by the brand with the guiding star for 150 years. 797 components drive this legendary heart beating at a frequency of 36,000 vibrations/hour and fitted with a fusée and chain transmission system ensuring constant force. In tribute to the founder of Zenith, a pioneer of the modern watchmaking industry, this COSC-certified timepiece heralds the future of the Maison, solidly built on a century and a half of expertise and innovation bearing its inimitable signature.

2015 is an undeniably festive year for Zenith, since the Manufacture is celebrating 150 years of existence: a century and a half of watchmaking history driven by expertise and daring. An ideal opportunity for the brand with the guiding star to demonstrate its creativity and innovation through an exceptional series of timepieces dedicated to the visionary spirit of its founder, Georges Favre-Jacot. Firmly embedded in the Zenith DNA, that same daring attitude that led the 22 year-old entrepreneur from Le Locle to create one of the first industrial watch Manufactures, is fully expressed in the new Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Titanium 150-piece limited edition. A perfect blend of technical sophistication and contemporary attributes, this exclusive timepiece beats to the super-fast rhythm imparted by an in-house ‘engine’ whose legendary name and impressive chronometric performance went down in history in 1969: El Primero Calibre 4810. Faithfully reflecting its illustrious lineage reputed for peerless precision, this hand-wound movement chronometer-certified by the COSC beats at the extremely swift cadence of 36,000 vibrations per hour. In addition, this compendium of horological expertise bearing the Zenith signature also features a spectacular fusée and chain transmission system linked to the barrel and guaranteeing constant force, while its resolutely modern exterior showcases an aesthetic approach firmly geared towards the future of the brand.

While the Manufacture already holds a number of records, including more than 300 patents, over 600 movement variations and 2,333 chronometry prizes (an absolute record), it continues to surpass itself in the demanding field of precision. The Academy Georges Favre-Jacot Titanium, combining mechanical feats with sleek, opulent lines, is a vibrant expression of this tireless quest. Its high-frequency mechanism is housed in an imposing 45 mm-diameter brushed titanium case. Reflecting its distinctively contemporary character, the functions of hand-wound El Primero Calibre 4810 – central hours and minutes, small seconds and power-reserve – are displayed on a slate grey dial featuring gold hands sweeping over luminescent black facetted hour-markers. The cut-out in the upper part of the brushed dial reveals the fusée and chain transmission system, with the barrel appearing between 10 and 11 o’clock, while the fusée around which the chain progressively wraps is displayed between 1 and 2 o’clock. Secured to the mainplate by blued screws, two structured bridges bear the staff of the fusée and that of the barrel. The 50-hour power reserve is shown between 4 and 5 o’clock by a bright red hand, along with the inscriptions “Force constante”, “Bas” and “Haut” (respectively referring to constant force and to “Low” and “High” levels of the remaining power reserve). The small seconds counter, positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock and featuring a snailed motif that echoes the minute circle around the inner bezel ring, bears the logo of the Manufacture with the guiding star.

Setting the perfect final touch, the transparent back of the case water-resistant to 100 metres provides a chance to admire a “carbon fibre-type” décor creating a striking contrast with the finely brushed wheels and escapement bridge, while emphasising the technical and modern nature of this exceptional model. The inscription “Chronometer” engraved on the openworked mainplate testifies to the precision – certified by the Swiss Official Chronometer Testing Institute (COSC) – of the El Primero 4810 movement combining high frequency with a fusée and chain transmission linked to the barrel. The perfectly balanced proportions of this exclusive new model are complemented by a rubber-lined black hornback alligator leather strap, firmly secured to the wrist by a triple-blade folding clasp.



The new El Primero Tourbillon models offer a unique combination by associating a prestigious tourbillon with the high frequency (36,000 vph) of the world’s most precise series-made chronograph – the legendary El Primero developed by Zenith in 1969 – as well as a patented date display. These elegant tourbillon chronograph models come in two classic versions crafted in pink gold or stainless steel with a white or black lacquered dial, complemented by a contemporary version in brushed titanium with a slate grey dial.

Beneath their understated elegance, the three new El Primero Tourbillon models conceal a mechanical heart characterised by fully mastered complexity. The iconic tourbillon complication is associated here with a legendary movement: the El Primero automatic chronograph calibre beating at the high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour. Its distinctive asymmetrical architecture places the tourbillon at 11 o’clock, while its offset tourbillon carriage is revealed through a generous dial opening. The tourbillon mechanism rotating once a minute also incorporates a small seconds display, while the patented date display appears on a disc placed around the circumference of the tourbillon carriage.

The 45 mm-diameter case, crafted in pink gold or stainless steel for the two classic versions and water-resistant to 100 metres, is enhanced by a fluted winding crown and two round vintage-style pushpieces, endowing it with classic aesthetic appeal distinguished by beautifully proportioned lines. The cambered sapphire crystal, glareproofed on both sides, ensures optimal legibility of the white or black lacquered dial punctuated by luminescent facetted dagger-type hands and hour-markers. The remarkably slim central chronograph hand, blued on the pink gold version and bearing the Zenith star emblem, sweeps accurately around the graduated dial circumference and its inner bezel ring bearing a tachymetric scale. The 30-minute and 12-hour counters are respectively positioned at 3 and 6 o’clock so as to ensure optimal clarity on this pure, understated dial face. The sapphire crystal caseback affords a fascinating view of the automatic El Primero movement and the dance of its gold oscillating weight adorned with a “Côtes de Genève” motif.

In contrast to the refined classicism of these two models, a third version in brushed titanium features cut-out lugs and slender pushers giving it a resolutely sporty, modern touch. The fascinating tourbillon along with the 30-minute and 12-hour chronograph counters are displayed with great distinction on the slate grey dial, while the facetted hands and hour-markers are coated with a black luminescent material ensuring perfect harmony and readability. The chronograph counters are framed by an anthracite grey rim forming a figure eight shape that stands out against the brushed dial base. This deep shade echoes that of the snail-finished counter centres and the minute track, thereby accentuating the sophisticated appearance of this sports chronograph.

Combining high frequency with a remarkable tourbillon, these heirs to a prestigious lineage of timepieces that began in 1969 are driven by El Primero Calibre 4035D, a high-precision automatic tourbillon chronograph movement designed, developed and produced by Zenith. The tourbillon with its carriage performing one rotation per minute appears in the upper left-hand part of the dial, while the rim of the dial opening revealing it features a patented date display system. Alongside this offset tourbillon thus framed by the date indication, this remarkable mechanism also drives central hours and minutes hands, small seconds on the tourbillon carriage, as well as chronograph indications with a central seconds hand along with 30-minute and 12-hour counters. This movement featuring all the signature characteristics of the El Primero collection beats at the exceptional frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour enabling tenth-of-a-second precision – and display. This 381-part movement is endowed with a 50-hour power reserve and graced with meticulous finishing visible through the dial opening as well as through the sapphire crystal caseback.

These three technical and sophisticated El Primero Tourbillon models, combining the lively nature of the chronograph with mastery of a major complications, are fitted with a rubber-lined black or brown alligator leather strap fastened by a triple folding clasp ensuring optimal comfort and impeccably reliable security.