The Swiss based watchmaker Zeno Basel has prepared a number of new timepieces for this year. Among them, is their new Zeno Basel Vintage Classic Chrono pilot’s watch with chronograph, simple calendar and moonphase complications. Presented in a slightly oversized stainless steel boy, it is powered by a rare hand-wound caliber and features a somewhat eclectic, but pleasant to look at, dial. The watch was presented during Baselworld 2012 show earlier this month.
Like many “aviators”, the new watch is presented in a rather large steel case 44 millimeters in diameter. However, thanks to a set of rather short lugs, the timekeeper has a good chance to fit nicely just about any wrist, even skinny ones.
Although a military-inspired watch look especially attractive when their bodies are satin finished or even gunmetal PVD-coated, this particular model has its case mirror-polished, this not only makes it dressier, but also makes it feel visually lighter. The impression is further enhanced thanks to an especially thin bezel that allowed the Swiss designers to make the blue dial look especially legible.
By the way, speaking of dial, I must point out that it looks somewhat strange. Judging by the moon phase aperture, which is placed at 6 o’clock, the central part of the face is copied from the original standard dial that accompanied ETA Valjoux 7768 hand-wound movements that were produced by the Swiss ebauche-making giant since 1985 till 1998.
However, the dial was made somewhat larger in order to better fit a larger case and to provide more space for the IWC-style Arabic numerals and the inevitable triangle at 12 o’clock, which is accompanied by the equally inevitable pair of luminous dots.
It also must be noted that the caliber 7768 is a simplified version of the base ETA Valjoux 7760 chronograph that comes sans the 12-hour chronograph totalizer. Since the caliber 7760 is basically the same well-known caliber 7750 with a manual-wind system, its reliability and accuracy remains is beyond any doubt.
Anyway, I see this timekeeper as a very nice alternative to buying a used IWC pilot’s watch that, even in the best circumstances, would set you back for at least three times more than this model. On the other hand, a used chronograph from a major brand can always be re-sold at basically the same money, while you would probably lose at least 40 percent of MSRP on this one as soon as you open the box. Life’s tough, right.
The only problem of this watch is an unimpressive water resistance rating. Since it comes without the usual screw-in crown, its WR is limited to just 30 meters: something that you don’t expect from a military inspired timekeeper.
As for the price, expect something around $1800 or more*.
Photos: Zeno Basel
*UPDATE ON PRICE: As of 28/09/2017, the watch is listed at Zeno’s online shop at CHF 1640.
Zeno Basel Vintage Classic Chrono Hand-Wound (Ref. 4100-i4) watch specification
Price: CHF 1640 (MSRP)
Movement: Manual, caliber ETA Valjoux 7768 (base Valjoux 7760), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Movement decoration: N/A
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, 30-minute chronograph
Power reserve: 52 hours
Case material: Stainless steel, polished
Bezel material: Matches case
Crown material: Matches case
Case shape: Round
Bezel shape: Round
Case size: 44.00 mm
Case height: N/A
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with contrasting stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective
Case back: Transparent