Previously restricted to their ultra-weird Defy Xtreme series, a lightweight carbon-fiber body is finally available for a more serene El Primero family. The 2013 Zenith El Primero Lightweight (Ref. 10.2260.4052W/98.R573) justifies its name not only with the high-tech material, which is usually reserved for the aerospace industry and motorsports but also with lots of titanium, as well as with extensive use of skeletonization techniques.
Titanium, by the way, was used to craft the main components of Caliber El Primero 4052 W automatic movement that powers the piece. All main parts, including the mainplate and five bridges, were crafted from lightweight metal reducing the total weight of the engine to just 15.45 grams, while a “normal” self-winding mechanism of similar dimensions and functionality is usually about 1/3 heavier than that. The choice of metal is the only difference between this new mechanism and the base Cal. 4052 mechanism that, for example, also powered the gorgeous El Primero Striking 10th model that was revealed back in 2010.
Visually, the new gadget looks like your normal El Primero chronograph but features a number of elements that make it look a lot more interesting than the previous iterations.
The first thing that you notice is, of course, the case. Large at 45 millimeters in diameter, it looks defiantly sporty with its unusual, checkered (like the flag, right) grey-and-black surface. I don’t understand how they did it, but the body is equipped with “open-worked” lugs that make this sporty timekeeper look even more energetic and, again, more lightweight.
The idea of lightness is further reiterated with a three-dimensional dial. Skeletonized to the barest minimum, the face of the new Zenith El Primero Lightweight is equipped with the famous overlapping chronograph sub-dials in their signature grey, blue, and anthracite colors reserved for the small-seconds hand, 60-second, and 60-minute chronograph counters respectively.
The bright red central hand with the trademark Zenith star performs the timekeeper’s main function: moving at increments of ten times per second, it increases the chronograph’s accuracy to (well, you probably already guessed) just 1/10th of a second allowing you to measure intervals with impressive precision. Of course, a cheap electronic stopwatch does that (and more) at just a tiny fraction of the price, but only this gorgeous watch does that in such a high style.
Its total production is going to be limited to just 100 pieces, which is a pity although the suggested retail of CHF 19900 still makes the subject of this brief review prohibitively expensive for a great majority of the brand’s fans.
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4.5/5
Zenith El Primero Lightweight (Ref. 10.2260.4052W/98.R573) specification
Price: CHF 19900 / €15400 (MSRP, approx. $19400 USD)
Movement: Automatic, caliber El Primero 4052 W, 30 x 6.60 mm, 334 parts, in-house, main elements in lightweight titanium, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31
Movement frequency: 36,000 vph
Power reserve: 50 hours
Movement decoration: Skeletonized oscillating weight
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, chronograph
Case & Bezel: Carbon fiber
Size: 45.00 mm
Hour markers: Luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Nomex-coated black rubber strap and black triple folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective on both sides, cambered