939-piece micro-mechanical movement masterpiece…25 pieces @$280,000 per…
As part of the Geneva festivities last month, Le Locle-based Zenith presented two new watches. I will get to the classy Captain Winsor Annual Calendar (a boutique-only watch) at a later date; right now we are going to take a closer look at the new Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane. As you can see, this is a somewhat unusual looking piece — with its “bubble” and all the visible components — with impressive mechanics underlying it all. I’ll break it all down — with lots of high-res looks — below.
Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane
Limited Edition 25 pieces
Price: $280,000 per
45mm x 14.35mm rose gold case (21.4mm thick with domed sapphire crystal)
By way of background, the first Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb was introduced in July of 2010. The crowning achievement of the watch was its display of the regulating mechanism, housed in a small bubble and kept horizontal at all times through a micro-mechanical Cardan suspension system (also known as a gimbal, and commonly associated with gyroscopes and more specifically to horoglogy, marine chronometers). Zenith was honored at the 2011 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix in the Best Complicated Watch category for this “Gravity Control” system. Originally, the $200,000+ watch was released in a couple rose and white gold, and then later it was released in an extraordinary platinum, skeleton, special-edition made exclusively for MARCUS London (a piece I discovered and discussed last July).
Now, Zenith has further evolved this intriguing timepiece, a la the Christophe Colomb Hurricane, by adding a constant-force mechanism a la a fusee-and-chain transmission system. The basic premise of a constant force mechanism is to mitigate the progressive loss of isochronism of the watch — the identical oscillations of the regulating organ as the watch gradually discharges.
The Christophe Colomb Hurricane is undoubtedly a feat of micro-mechanical engineering. Suffice it to say, translating a chain-and-fusee mechanism into the diminutive space available inside a wristwatch is a feat that few have accomplished. The case of the Christophe Colomb Hurricane is 45mm — not excessively large by any means. In total, the exceptional mechanism in this watch has an astounding 939 parts — 585 components in the 18 cm-long chain and 354 for the movement of which 173 are for the gravity control module.
Fusée-chain constant-force transmission system
Throughout the duration of the power reserve, the barrel transmits its force to the fusée via the chain that is wrapped around the barrel. By adjusting variations in tension, the fusée transmits its constant force to the going train that in turn imparts it to the silicon escape-wheel inside the gyroscopic carriage. It takes over 50 hours – the entire duration of power reserve – for the chain to wrap itself entirely around the barrel.
Gravity Control System
Along with its fusée-chain transmission that eliminates variations in isochronism, the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane also cancels out another phenomenon exercising a detrimental effect on the rate of a mechanical watch: gravity. Working on the principle that maintaining the regulating organ in a horizontal position results in the best possible balance amplitude and thus generates the best timekeeping precision, Zenith conceived and patented a revolutionary Gravity Control system designed to ensure that the regulating organ and the escapement are permanently kept in this position.
Early modern dry compass suspended by gimbals (1570)
Not only is the Christophe Colomb Hurricane a mechanical wonder, but it is also a visual delight. The fusee-chain system, the horizontal suspension carriage, the openworked hour and minute dial at 12 o’clock, the hand guilloche small seconds and power reserve displays make for a superb dial.
On the back, your eyes are first drawn to the globe-motif which has been laser-engraved on to the counterweight of the gyroscopic module. Other decorative elements such as Geneva strips (cotes-de-Geneve) and perlage on the movement plates, circular graining, and anglage make further enhance the look.
El Primero 8805
Manual wind movement with “always horizontal” regulating organ, chain-fusee constant force mechanism (585 components, 18cm long chain), power reserve minimum 50 hours; 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Note that 5Hz — relative high frequency, as goes the El Primero.
A fantastic watch by almost any measure.