The Manufacturer Zenith has always had a passion for measuring time. While the effects of this quest are taken for granted these days, things were very different at the turn of the 20th century. The industrial revolution gave rise not only to the need to pace human activity, but also – and perhaps above all, to contribute to the precision of navigation and later, telecommunications. In 1989, the first Zenith chronograph made watchmaking history as well as contributing to modern-day technological progress. Nurtured by the visionary mindset of its founder, and cultivating his ability to see beyond limits, Zenith has unceasingly accompanied pioneers and adventurers, from the moment Louis Blériot crossed the Channel in 1909 to Felix Baumgartner’s freefall from the stratosphere in 2012. And for the Manufacture in Le Locle, human adventure is often synonymous with technical innovation and watchmaking progress. Thus, in 1969, the El Primero calibre, the first automatic integrated high-frequency chronograph movement, launched six months before man’s first step on the moon, instantly became the symbol of daring watchmaking. Nearly 50 years after the creation of this exceptional movement, the timepieces housing it are the only numbered chronographs capable of measuring short time spans to the nearest 1/10th of a second. More recently, the creation of the gyroscopic Gravity Control module after five years of research and development represented a major watchmaking advance. Be it technical or human, adventure is unquestionably in Zenith’s genes.
Great minds always end up meeting
True to its values of daring, authenticity and pleasure, Zenith has naturally cast off towards a new challenge. Since 2014, the Manufacture with the guiding star has been involved in another adventure: a partnership as official timekeeper of the Spindrift racing team, led by skippers Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard. Over and above shared values, the partners’ respective approaches to challenges – whether on a workbench for one or on the ocean for another – are strictly identical. Be it implementing interdisciplinary synergies in targeting performance or developing innovative solutions for a solo race, designing ever more accurate movements or increasingly faster boats, using materials that make it possible to break free of constraints or withstand several tons of stress levels: here too, the objectives are extremely similar.
“Our association with Spindrift racing is a logical step in the development of Zenith, which has been achieving steadily growing success over the past five years. Through this highly technological project, we clearly express our philosophy of looking higher and further, as well as that of the people who wear our watches. We enjoy focusing on projects and characters who make things happen. Dona, Yann and their teams have the stuff of those modern heroes who drive dreams and make the world go round. We are proud to associate our watches with their future performances,” said Zenith President and CEO, Aldo Magada recently.
The conqueror of the seas
Designed to beat the most formidable crewed ocean records, maxi trimaran Spindrift 2 has already set ten records around the world since its launch, including the Trophée Jules Verne. On Sunday November 2nd, she will cross the start line of the Route du Rhum, the legendary solo transatlantic race that takes place every four years between Saint-Malo (mainland France) and Pointe-à-Pitre (Guadeloupe). Optimized in order to suit the program and the athletic objectives of the team, this ocean-going giant is the result of a daring challenge taken up by Donatella Bertarelli, businesswoman and accomplished athlete and Yann Guichard, one of the best skippers in the world. Through this project, the two partners share a passion for a multi-faceted sport where performance depends on high-tech materials as well as on passionately dedicated men and women. Since the creation of the team in 2011, the team’s approach – controlled daring – remains unchanged. It has even been rewarded. Like Zenith, the Spindrift racing team follows its own star. “Our project has grown and already enjoys great international recognition. With Yann, we are holding all the cards for new breakthroughs and we are proud of our alliance with Zenith,” says Dona Bertarelli.
A premiere for the El Primero line
In its capacity as official timekeeper for the Spindrift racing team, notably during the 2014 Route du Rhum, it was quite natural for Zenith to enrich its El Primero line with a timepiece equipped with a chronograph function in tribute to this exceptional human adventure.
The understated yet technical dial of the El Primero Stratos Spindrift racing has two particularities. The first is the opening onto the escapement at 10 o’clock, making this watch the first Stratos to be equipped with this feature. The happy owner can thus admire the heart of his watch. The second characteristic lies on the inside face of the inner bezel ring bearing the inscription “Spindrift racing” at 12 o’clock. It consists of the telemetric scale serving to calculate the distance of a visible and audible phenomenon. The inscription and the team logo engraved on the oscillating weight bring to mind the connection between this top of the range sports watch and the forthcoming sailing challenges both on Lake Léman and on the oceans around the globe.
The automatic El Primero 4061 is equipped with a lever and escape-wheel in silicon, an avant-garde material that has resolved problems relating to lubrication. Silicon is much harder and lighter than steel, which makes it both resistant to wear and tear and less energy intensive, due to its low friction coefficient. It is also non-magnetic.
Equipped with a column wheel, a sure token of high-quality calibres, this highly precise movement is fitted inside a case equipped with a rotating bezel and available in two different two-tone options – rose gold and DLC titanium, enhanced with a black dial – or completely black – the DLC variation with a carbon fibre dial. These two resolutely masculine versions are coated in DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon), giving the watch its spectacular matt black colour as well as considerable hardness and resistance to scratches.
The flexibility of the strap stems from its design: a rubber core into which a thick, structured fibre fabric is inserted. The result: robustness, comfort and a firm hold suited to all situations and particularly sailing sports.