Thursday, March 11, 2010

Basel Sneak Peak: Zenith El Primero Jumping Seconds

The power of Zenith Watches never fail to impress me and the El Primero Jumping Seconds (Foudroyante) chronograph watch is no exception. Beneath the sleek confident dial is cutting edge precision; the result of a rapid balance frequency -36,000 vibrations per hour- rendering the timepiece a master of efficient time keeping. The El Primero movement is in itself an icon of Zenith. First introduced in 1969 as being the first automatic chronograph movement and been noted in horology history as the "first chronograph caliber with automatic winding by an oscillating weight pivoting on a centrally-placed ball bearing mechanism."

With this new Timepiece ,which will debut at Basel World 2010, another first will inspire the watch world - the first automatic integrated chronograph with 1/10th second display or otherwise known as the foudroyante or jumping seconds function. In this function the division of a second is up for grabs, in this case the second is divided by 1/10th of a second. The red hand counterbalanced by the zenith star is the "foudroyante hand" which performs a complete rotation in 10 seconds rather than the traditional 60 seconds, thus the outer most edge of the dial is marked from 1 to 10 enabling one to read in 1/10ths of a second. This function increases precision and enhances readability.

Housed in a 43mm diameter stainless steel or 18k rose gold case (the choice is yours) is an ingenious elaboration of the chronograph mechanism. Utilizing the silicon in crucial components of the El Primero 4052 B Caliber automatic movement, Zenith reduced energy consumption and improved shock absorbency. The chronograph mechanism has a chronograph stop function which utilizes a hand-locking system bringing the hand to a precise stop. A brake lever positions the hand between two of a 100 teeth of the chronograph wheel. The speedy stop and start function of this timepiece requires an enormous amount of energy thus silicon is used. Silicon is three and a half times lighter than other traditional materials.

The Zenith El Primero Jumping Seconds is an attractive timepiece which exudes competency. The remarkable movement can be viewed via a scratch resistant sapphire crystal case-back. The hands and hour markers are coated with Superluminova enabling time display in the dark. Water resistant to 100 meters. Available with either a rubber-lined black or brown alligator strap.

Zenith is a company which accentuates extreme functionality and performance, and thus it comes at no surprise that the El Primero movement takes no less than 9 months of work, performed by 20 watchmakers each an expert in their craft, to complete. Every general El Primero movement ,from conception to completion, takes 5,500 operations of which 50 are general milling operations, 77 milling operations on the bridge side, separate operations for each individual part, 18 different metals.

Own a watch that beats to its own drum - 864,000 times a day.

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