The new Zenith El Primero Tourbillon Chronograph watch is yet another good offer from the company that finally found its own design tongue. Although its case, which is available both in affordable stainless steel, as well as in expensive (and also dressier) rose gold (ref. 18.2280.4035/01.C713), is a little oversized at 44 millimeters in diameter, the watch still doesn’t look bulky and may actually look great with a made to order business suit.
The new watch looks like an evolution of the design that was first introduced in 2008 with the Grande Class Tourbillon El Primero model.
Like that watch, the new Zenith El Primero Tourbillon Chronograph has its tourbillon cage placed at 11 o’clock; the chronograph counters placed at 3 and 6 o’clock (dangerously close to the center of the dial;) and the date indicator is located inside the tourbillon cage’s outer rim.
In fact, the new watch is powered by the El Primero 4035 D movement, which is a modified version of the El Primero 4035 automatic caliber that motivated the Grande Class model.
Thanks to an in-line escapement that shifts the balance spring to the outer edge of the rotating carriage, this fast movement (it beats at impressive 36,000 vph and is therefore much more accurate than slower movements, but also consumes much more energy) has a power reserve rating of more than 50 hours.
I wasn’t able to find any information regarding the modifications that were made to the movement, but in its press release the Swiss watchmaker says that the El Primero 4035 D is made of 381 components, while the original 4035 sported only 325 parts.
My guess is that the modifications may be limited to the date display system, which is incorporated into the tourbillon cage.
While the Grande Class Tourbillon El Primero featured a usual rotating ring that showed current date in a small display window, the new watch has a skeletonized rotating disk that spins around stationary ring with printed Arabic numerals and points at one that represents current date.
Of course, since Mr. Dufour took over the company, their design become not as bold as it used to be when the brand was headed by a younger and a lot more energetic Mr. Thierry Nataf.
However, as guys from Zenith‘s sales department may point out, that was actually good for the business: a combination of more subdued design and a lot more affordable prices did the miracle and rescued the Swiss brand from the financial abyss.
The El Primero Tourbillon Chronograph comes in the same 44 mm case as the recent El Primero Rattrapante flyback chrono.
While not particularly large, the case sports rater long lugs, so, if you have a thin wrist, you should probably try the watch first.
The watch is available both in 18-carat rose gold and in stainless steel and is priced at $66,800 and $49,700 respectively.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 3/5
Nighttime Legibility: 3.5/5
Value for Money: 3/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
Zenith El Primero Tourbillon Chronograph automatic watch specification
Price: $49,700 – $66,800
Movement: Caliber El Primero 4035 D, automatic, in-house, Swiss Made
Cadence of balance: 36,000 vph
Functions: Hour, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph, tourbillon
Power reserve: 50 hours
Case material: Stainless steel or 18-carat Rose gold
Bezel material: Stainless steel or 18-carat Rose gold
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.0 mm
Case height: No data
Dial: Black Sunray or Silver Sunray
Hands: Rhodium, faceted with Superluminova SLN C1 or Gold-plated for Rose Gold version
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Alligator Leather strap lined with a Rubber protection available also on triple folding buckle
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Sapphire