Hands-On: With The El Primero Lightweight, A New Generation Of Chronograph From Zenith (Live Pics & Pricing)

Zenith watches in the race for the ultra-light

Known for their ability to combine technological innovation with creative daring, the engineers and watchmakers of the Zenith Manufacture were entrusted with the mission of developing a light watch with a sporty design, while making no compromises on precision, sturdiness and reliability —just as one optimizes an engine intended for competition.

The sizable feat began with the movement. Drawing upon its latest research on new materials, Zenith selected titanium —a light and sturdy material widely used in aeronautics— to build the movement bridges. The Manufacture also opted to use silicon, with the lever and escape wheel made from this high-tech, anti-magnetic material that is three and a half times lighter than classic alloys, harder than steel and a guarantee of excellent efficiency. El Primero 400B Titanium calibre is 25% less heavy than a classic El Primero calibre and is the lightest chronograph calibre on the market weighing 15.9 grams. The calibre is composed of 328 parts, 31 jewels, oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” pattern decorated with the Spindrift logo and it provides a power reserve of 50 hours.

The watch is available in a limited edition of 250 pieces and is distinguished by its 45 mm carbon and aluminum case with titanium pushers and crown that reveal the extreme nature of this ultra-sporty chronograph.

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A few weeks ago we had the opportunity to go hands-on with Zenith’s latest technological innovation, the El Primero Lightweight. This new take on the Striking Tenth chronograph telegraphs a new direction for Zenith, one that promises the use of new materials and a dedication to emulating the spirit of innovation that gave us the original El Primero in 1969. This was is one that you really have to see to believe and here we’ve got live photos to prove it.

Watches promoted as lightweight can be difficult to judge online. Just how light is light? And when you strap the watch on, does that lightness translate into anything or is it simply a number on a page? With the El Primero Lightweight, I’m glad to say, it’s both impressive and makes for a nice wearing experience.

Georges Favre-Jacot founded the brand with the star logo in 1865. After being taken over by the LMVH group in 1999, the brand got back into the race.

And Zenith is back in every sense. It has returned to make history – as did Felix Baumgartner when he broke the sound barrier in free fall – and to take back solid watchmaking values. It’s also reemerging to vindicate what makes manufactures worthy of their names: their precious independence.

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