Zenith at Baselworld 2014
Below are some of the Zenith watches from Baselworld 2014 that Russ and I found the most interesting.
The New "Open" Models
In 2012, with the Espada, Zenith created a watch that featured the 36,000 beats per hour of their signature El Primero Chronograph movement, but only three hands (hours, minutes, and seconds) instead of a chronograph complication. This year Zenith expanded their commitment to the three hand El Primero with Synopsis. Instead of featuring a large sweep second hand like the Espada, Synopsis features a skeletal opening of the dial that reveals the escapement wheel, and balance complete. Like the Open Chronograph models, the second hand of the watch is a tri-spoked wheel attached to the skeletal opening. Like the modern Lightweight, Bullit, and newest versions of the Chronomaster Power Reserve, the escapement wheel and pallet fork are made out of silicon. These modern components are more durable and provide an interesting visual contrast to the perlage patterns on the steel bridges. The steel cased version of the Synpopsis is available on an alligator strap for $6,000. There are two dial options: one with steel, and the other with rose gold colored markers.
The steel marker version of the Zenith Synopsis
The steel version the Zenith Synopsis with rose gold markers
Chronomaster Open Grand Date Moonphase
The Chronomaster Open Grand Date Moonphase has been one of the more popular models over the past several years, and the existing collection has a two-tone version with an 18kt. gold bezel. This year, Zenith came out with a new variation of the watch that features gold markers, dial accents, crown and pushers but a stainless steel bezel.
Chronomaster Open Grand Date Moonphase with a light amount of gold accents
Charles Vermot Limited
The 42mm Chronomaster Power Reserve ("open") has been our best selling of the Open El Primero watches. This year Zenith added to the existing models a new blue color that celebrates Charles Vermot, the legendary factory foreman who helped save the plans and production equipment for building El Primero chronographs in the 1970s. The retail is similar to the other color variations of the Chronomaster Open.
The Charles Vermot Limited Edition
The Red Baron Limited Edition was last year's most in-demand limited edition Zenith and quickly sold out. This year, Zenith has released a new 48mm GMT model with a larger production run. Like the Red Baron, this model features a titanium case with a DLC coating. This limited edition is a tribute to the Wright Brothers called the Type 20 GMT 1903. Its two main differentiation points from the Red Baron are the Vintage NATO style Leather strap and the color and patina on the hands and markers. To achieve the effect Zenith uses a process called SLN old Radium. On Zenith's website, the markers look considerably darker than the prototype I saw in Basel. It will be interesting to see how the markers look in the final version that comes to market.
A prototype of the black markers of the Zenith 1903 that is significantly lighter than the version on Zenith's website
Another view of the DLC case of the 1903
The distressed leather on the 1903
A closer look at a marker of the 1903
PILOT: TYPE 20 GRAND FEU
Zenith also came out with a very limited edition called the Type 20 Grand Feu. The movement features ten of the remaining vintage pocket watch movements, the 5011K Calibre, that are remaining in Zenith's possession. The Grand Feu's most unique aspect is its case which is made of sapphire with a white gold bezel, horns and crown. The dial features a unique enamel technique Grand Feu. the technique involves using molten enamel powder that is applied to the dial and fired multiple times at temperatures between 800 and 900 degrees celsius.
The enamel dial and crystal case of the Type 20 Grand Feu
The movement of the Type 20 Grand Feu featuring the famous 5011K Movement
Type 20 Extra Special
Given Zenith's rise in popularity over the past several years, and the strength of sales for El Primero movements for watch brands inside its parent group of LVMH, Zenith production abilities no longer meet the demand. Accordingly, like IWC and Panerai, Zenith has come out with a less expensive Pilot watch that is based on a Sellita movement. The Type 20 Extra Special is aesthetically similar to the proprietary movement 40mm , but $1,200 less expensive. At 45mm, the Type 20 Extra-Special is also a few MM smaller than the 48mm Annual Calendar and GMT models.
Stratos has a number of new models including a new "Rainbow" and Carbon Fiber Model.
The new Steel and Black DLC Stratos Chronograph Spindrift
A Rainbow dial of the Stratos Chronograph
A Titanium with black DLC 18kt Rose Gold Stratos
Last year's Lightweight striking 10th version quickly sold out. This year at Basel they introduced a non-striking 10th version limited to 250 units worldwide. This limited edition celebrates Zenith's new partnership with Spindrift Racing, whose name is engraved on the caseback.
The 250 piece limited edition Spindrift Racing Lightweight
Slightly larger than the Port Royal 38mm that came out a few years ago, the Sellita based 40mm Port Royal offers a new price point for Zenith. The steel models costs $3,200 and the 18kt gold model retail for $8,800.
Similar to the existing Captain models, the 2014 Captains feature new dials of Moonphase, and Power Reserve without the use of Guilloche, and a much more understated tone.
The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.