What a better partnership than luxury watches and vintage cars / classic car rallying…? Classic rallies are all about skills, reliability and – most importantly in our case – perfect timing. Attributes that are certainly shared with watchmaking. Thus, it feels quite natural that Swiss Watch Manufacture Zenith has teamed with the UK-based Historic Endurance Rallying Organisation (better known as HERO) as official timekeeper of the HERO Cup. In order to celebrate this partnership, a new watch will be launched, the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969 HERO Cup Edition. Overview.
What is HERO?
The Historic Endurance Rallying Organization (HERO) is a classic car club recognized by the Royal Automobile Club Motor Sports Association (MSA – the of cial governing body for motor sport in the UK, af liated to the Federation Internationale de l’Automobile) and, through its membership of the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs, is af liated to FIVA – the Fédération Internationale des Véhicules Anciens. A classic car endurance rallying club that dates over twenty-two years, HERO has organized more than 150 events (trials and tours) especially for classic cars.
Starting from 2016, Zenith will be the Official Timekeeper of the HERO Cup and the future winner of the HERO Cup will also receive a Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open from a limited edition of 100 units, being produced especially to mark the partnership between HERO and Swiss Watch Manufacture Zenith. Well, in all transparency, there’s nothing spectacular or especially new in this kind of partnership, resulting in a limited watch. But here, we have to say that the watch in question is rather good looking – like all the other Zenith El Primero watches…
The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969 HERO Cup Edition is based on the opened edition of this legendary watch, first introduced in 1969, as one of the very early (if not the earliest) automatic chronograph ever. The El Primero Chronometer Open has a main specificity: revealing through a hole in its dial the regulating organ, meaning that you’ll be able to see the escape wheel, the balance wheel, the hair spring and the pallet fork in action, while wearing the watch. This aperture also reveals the fourth wheel (the one just after the escapement) that drives the second-hand. While on some watches it can be seen as a bit odd, on the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969, it makes a lot of sense, considering the 5Hz frequency (36,000 beats per hour) of the movement.
The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969 HERO Cup Edition features a 42mm case – the classical El Primero case, with sharp lugs, bevel running from a side to another and round pushers – in stainless steel, mixing polished surfaces (bezel, crown, pushers and sides of the case) as well as satined surfaces on the lugs. It will be delivered on a black alligator skin strap, with contrasting red stitchings and a triple folding clap. The clear and legible dial, apart from its large aperture, comes here in silvery white with black indexes and markers, a black minute track surrounding the dial and a tachymeter scale on the inner flange (a feature that will make a lot of sense in a classic car rally environment). The main specificity remains of course the HERO Cup medallion inserted in the 12-hour sub-counter at 6 o’clock.
Inside the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969 HERO Cup Edition we find an iconic movement (in fact, this calibre is more the icon than the watch in with it is encased, something rare enough to be mentioned), the El Primero Chronograph. As said previously, it is one of the few chronographs to beat at a precise 5Hz frequency. It is an integrated movement, with self-winding feature, with timing functions operated via a column wheel. Of course, since its inception in 1969, this movement has been modernized, as it now features a silicon escape wheel and lever. It boasts approximately 50 hours of power reserve and it is chronometer certified by COSC.
The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Open 1969 HERO Cup Edition will be produced in a limited run of 100 watches and priced at around 9,000 Euros (price to be confirmed). More details about the El Primero collection to be found on www.zenith-watches.com.
We’d like to thank our friend and colleague Kristian Haagen for the superb photos illustrating this article. All credits to him.