With a movement weighing in at just 15.9 grams, Zenith now offers the world’s lightest chronograph caliber: the El Primero 400B Titanium. It is quite literally on the opposite end of the scale of the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Grand Feu. We sat down with Zenith during Baselworld and now bring you hands-on pictures and of course, all the details!
The El Primero Chronograph movement was launched back in 1969, making it 45 years old now. It was, at the time, one of the very first automatic chronograph movements and is still laurelled as one of the best to date. It’s strong enough to power additional complications, like the triple calendar and moonphase, although primarily it’s used in the classic chronograph with tri-compax that it is.
The new member of the El Primero family was developed as a sporty version of the current range by adopting lightweight materials such as titanium, silicon, aluminum and carbon. This results in a movement weighing only 15.9 grams, and just 40 grams including the case. Zenith has opted for titanium for the mainplate, barrel bridge, balance bridge, chronograph bridge, lever bridge and lever-wheel bridge. The oscillating weight is adorned with the iconic Zenith star. The El Primero 400B Titanium consists of 328 parts, beats at 36,000 bph and boasts 50 house of power reserve.
The 45mm wide carbon case has an aluminum mid-case, and titanium push-pieces and crown. The movement is sandwiched between a domed sapphire crystal (with anti-reflective coating on both sides) and a transparent sapphire caseback. The front sapphire crystal is marked with the brand’s logo, the brand’s name, “El Primero” and the iconic beat rate of this chronograph movement printed in red: “36,000 VpH”. It is water resistant to 100 meters (10 ATM).
Except for the chronograph registers, the entire dial is skeletonized and so is the date wheel. Before Baselworld we looked at the press info and had a bit of a concern that the dial would too busy and it would be hard to read. Upon arrival at the Zenith booth we were relieved that our fear was ungrounded. The registers – grey for the small seconds at 9, blue for 30-minute counter at 3 and anthracite for 12-hour counter at 6 – are quite all right when it comes down to legibility. A blue, centrally mounted seconds hand for the chronograph finishes off all the indications.
The faceted hour markers are rhodium plated and coated with luminous material. The hands have undergone the same treatment. The date window at 6 o’clock is aided by a red marker that is placed behind the date wheel with laser-cut numerals, which makes it stand out. The Zenith El Primero Chronograph Lightweight is attached to a Nomex coated black rubber strap and a triple folding clasp. The result is a very comfortable chronograph, in fact barely noticeable while being worn, that is slightly difficult to read under certain circumstances. Under bright, direct light, it can be a bit tricky to read despite the anti-glare coating. For general everyday use, it will do just fine!
The Zenith El Primero Lightweight is available in a limited run of 250 pieces, and at a price of $19,000. For more information: www.zenith-watches.com