The 2012 hand-wound Zeno Basel Vintage Classic Chrono (Ref. 4100-i4) pilot’s watch features all the usual stuff that you expect from a Valjoux 77xx-powered device. There is a chronograph, a rudimentary calendar, and an almost inevitable moonphase complication. Basically, everything that a gentleman needs in a vintage-style “aviator.” Presented in a slightly oversized stainless steel body, the 4100-i4 is powered by a rare(-ish) version of the hand-wound caliber and features a somewhat eclectic, but pleasant to look at, dial. It was first unveiled during Baselworld 2012 show.
Like many “aviators”, the new Vintage Classic Chrono Hand-Wound is presented in a large steel case measuring 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.
Modern military-inspired watches are often given that especially attractive “vintage” look when their bodies are satin-finished or even gunmetal PVD-coated. This particular model, however, has its case mirror-polished in order to make it a bit dressier, give it a visually lighter feel, and, all in all, make it more versatile. The impression is further enhanced thanks to an especially thin bezel that allowed the Swiss designers to make the busy blue dial larger and, in effect, more legible.
Speaking of the 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 remain beyond any doubt.
Anyway, I see this timekeeper as a solid 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 off the MSRP on this one as soon as you open the box. Life’s tough, right.
The only problem with this watch is its 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*.
Build Quality: 5/5
Overall Legibility: 4.5/5
Nighttime Legibility: 4.5/5
Value for Money: 4/5
Overall Rating: 4/5
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 (Ref. 4100-i4) specification
Price: CHF 1640 (MSRP)
Movement: Hand-Wound, caliber ETA Valjoux 7768 (base Valjoux 7760), Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 17
Movement frequency: 28,800 vph
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, date, 30-minute chronograph
Power reserve: 52 hours
Case: Stainless steel, polished
Size: 44.00 mm
Lug width: 22.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 30 meters
Strap: Black leather strap with contrasting stitching
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective