Zenith is one of the premium Swiss watch brands which has been in operation since 1865 and today is a subsidiary of the luxury group LVMH (Bulgari, TAG Heuer and Hublot). Zenith produces all watch movements in-house and is famous for the 1969 El Primero calibre, one of the first automatic chronograph calibres. The El Primero is not only the world’s first automatic chronograph but also the first to beat at the highly precise frequency of 36,000 vph.
After more than 150 years boasting more than 300 patents, more than 600 movement variations and 2,333 prizes in the field of chronometry, Zenith still finds itself firmly rooted in the El Primero.
This year at Baselworld, Zenith is presenting a new vintage series: the Heritage 146 chronograph inspired by a 1960s watch and now equipped with an El Primero movement. It features a retro look, a tropical brown or blue dial, a 38 mm-diameter steel case and a column-wheel El Primero movement chronometer-certified by the COSC.
Subtly reinterpreting a historical model, the Heritage 146 is a unique offering combining the best of the manufacture’s past: design, history and true rarity.
As one of the first historical watchmakers to be organised as a full-fledged manufacture, Zenith naturally celebrates this heritage by periodically relaunching some of its iconic vintage models.
The 1960s model was equipped with Calibre 146D featuring a balance-wheel oscillating at a rate of 18,000 vibrations/hour, ensuring a 38-hour power reserve and displays of the hours, minutes, with small seconds at 9 o’clock.
Jean-Claude Biver talks to STYLE about his new role as interim CEO at Zenith:
The new Heritage 146 offers a chronograph with central sweep-seconds hand and 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, as well as a tachymetric scale. This two-counter dial without a date window reflects a configuration typical of 1960s chronographs. The model also displays the distinctive graduated scale on the minutes’ counter, highlighting the 3, 6 and 9 numerals corresponding to the minutes charged for telephone conversations at the time the original was made.
The case of this exclusive edition now frames two dial options: tropical brown or blue sunray-patterned with rhodium-coated baton hands. However, its key difference lies in the fact that it beats to the lively rhythm of 36,000 vibrations per hour, dictated by the automatic high-beat El Primero Calibre 4069.
Regulated and adjusted to meet chronometer standards, this COSC-certified 254-part column-wheel chronograph calibre – wound by an oscillating weight adorned with “Côtes de Genève” – drives an extremely accurate tenth-of-a-second display and has an over 50-hour power reserve. Its high-frequency mechanism is housed in a 38 mm-diameter vintage-style steel case that is water-resistant to 50 meters and features a fluted crown as well as two round pushers. The screw-down sapphire crystal case back has an anti-reflective treatment on both sides. The final touch is set by a racing-style strap in a choice of brown or blue rubber-lined calfskin leather.
For vintage chronograph lovers, this is bound to be irresistible!
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