The Zenith El Primero is a very nice watch. There no point of disagreement for us. And when it comes with a triple calendar and a moon phase, displayed in a ‘vintage’ style and legible layout, it become an even better watch. This timepiece is called the Zenith El Primero 410 and for Baselworld 2015, it comes in a new limited edition with a cool blue dial (yes, blue is again is very popular this year). In addition, because we’re proper watch nerds here at Monochrome, we found something cool to match with this watch: matching solid silver hand-made cufflinks depicting the El Primero.
A bit of history…
The Zenith El Primero movement was revealed in 1969. It was at that time the first – or to be precise and not to engage long fights between collectors – one of the first automatic chronograph movement – together with the Heuer-Breitling-Hamilton-Buren Calibre 11 and the Seiko 6139. Even experts do not entirely agree on who was first and there are quite a few factors that count: developing, patenting, introducing, producing, delivering… whatever, the Zenith El Primero was and still is one of the greatest chronograph movements ever made. Compared to the 2 others, it has some unique and very likable features. It is an integrated movement (that is also the case of the Seiko; the Calibre 11 is a modular movement) with a central rotor (as Seiko, the Calibre 11 has a micro-rotor) with a column wheel (as Seiko, the Calibre 11 has a cam mechanism). What’s specific though? Compared to the 2 competitors, it was the only and still is one of the few chronograph movements to come with an escapement that vibrates at 36,000 vibrations per hour, or 10 ticks per second. It’s a so-called high-beat movement – that is supposed to be more precise.
Since its introduction in 1969, the movement is still (mor or less) the same and shares the same architecture and the same specifications. What about the triple calendar 410 edition? In fact, it’s also a vintage-inspired watch – a very rare one – but this layout existed as a prototype. Before Zenith launched the Limited Edition of the Zenith El Primero 410 in 2013, they found back one of the very few Triple Calendar El Primero available on the market, then justifying the introduction of the new Zenith El Primero 410. An example of this watch – one of an estimated production of 25 pieces – had been sold in May 2012 by Christies for 37.500 Swiss Francs – of course bought by Zenith themselves.
The new blue dial Zenith El Primero 410 Triple Calendar and MoonPhase
After a slate grey limited edition in 2013 (with two stars on the dial besides the day and month apertures), followed in 2014 by a non-limited edition, the Zenith El Primero 410 (without the stars on the dial, with a white dial and available in steel and in gold), it’s now a new 1975-piece limited edition that Zenith introduces at Baselworld 2015, with a cool blue dial.
Technically speaking, no novelties here. The Zenith El Primero 410 remains untouched – something we won’t blame Zenith for – with this faithful and legible layout for the calendar. On this watch, we’re in front of what we call a triple calendar or a full calendar, meaning a mechanism that displays the date, the day of the week and the month. However, it’s a rather simple system, as it doesn’t take into account the month with 30-31 days, thus being far more simple than an annual calendar or a perpetual calendar. However, with its date window at 4:30, the day window at 10 and the month window at 2, the Zenith El Primero 410 looks really good, especially because none of these indications step over the chronograph sub-counters – except the moon-phase that is inserted discreetly in the hour-counter at 6.
The case is still made of stainless steel, alternating polished and brushed surfaces and measuring a quite large 42mm. It is coming on a dark blue alligator strap with deployant buckle. From the back we can observe the iconic El Primero movement, with its classical finish – meaning the rotor with a large star (emblem of the brand), some blued screws, straight graining on the steel parts (levers and gears) and circular graining on the main-plate. The main novelty is though on the face of the watch, that now comes with a deep blue dial featuring a sunburst pattern and polished applied indexes, matching the hands. The Zenith El Primero 410 Triple Calendar and MoonPhase in blue will made in 1975 pieces and priced around 8.500 Euros.
- Movement: Zenith El Primero 410, automatic winding, 50-hours of power reserve, 390 components, 31 jewels, 36,000 vibrations per hour (5Hz)
- Functions: chronograph with 30-minute and 12-hour register, day of the week, date, month and moon phase
- Case: stainless steel, 42 mm in diameter, 12.75mm in height, box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, sapphire crystal in case back, water resistant to 50 meters
- Dial: blue with sunray-pattern, Rhodium-plated indexes and hands, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1
- Strap: blue alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining and a stainless steel buckle with triple folding clasp
About the solid silver hand-made cufflinks
These cuff links were made by Baz Persaud, a NY-based artist, who creates so-called “lost wax” cuff links. These have been made with permission from Zenith and actually makes the combination even better. The cufflinks start at $395 USD and are always hand-made limited editions.
Lost Wax process
It starts by making a hand-sculpted cuff link from a block of wax, which is used to create a mold. During this process of pouring and drying the mold, the original wax sculpture melts away leaving only the newly formed mold in its place. Essentially, the original model is destroyed in the process of creating the jeweler’s mold that is used to produce the end product. Hence, it is called, the “lost wax” technique.
With the jeweler’s mold, a new rubber mold is created, which will be injected with hot wax. And than the process starts over again, to be repeated as many times as needed (for instance a limited edition of 50 cufflinks, will need 100 molds). The jewelers mold will be filled with Sterling silver, which will be cleaned and finished by hand, and ultimately Rhodium plated.