With its new El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Rolling Stones Edition (ref. 03.2048.4061/77.C496), Zenith tries to appeal to hearts (as well as wallets and credit cards) of the baby boomers: those men and women in their sixties that remember the year 1969. Some of them actually saw Jimi Hendrix performing the Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock 1969, attended Led Zeppelin’s Summer 1969 North American Tour, while the luckiest of them even managed to see at least one of 16 shows of The Rolling Stones American Tour 1969.
Although the British band has already celebrated its 50th anniversary two years ago, the year 1969 was still quite a significant year for Rolling Stones. First of all, Brian Jones, one of the founding members, was fired from the group due to his drug abuse problems. He died later that year. The second event is, of course, the release of their Through the Past, Darkly (Big Hits Vol. 2) compilation album that included such big hits as Paint It, Black (in fact, I am listening to the song right now as I am typing these words), as well as Ruby Tuesday and the legendary Let’s Spend the Night Together.
Yes, that was a year to remember.
You have probably already noticed that this new limited edition model is based on the gorgeous Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 automatic chronograph (Ref. 27.03.0138.940) that was first presented in March 2012 at Baselworld show as a tribute to their very first El Primero chronograph.
While the finish and technical specs of the timekeeper are exactly the same, there is at least one feature on its open-worked dial that makes the device unique: Rolling Stones iconic red tongue, a symbol you have seen millions of times on T-shirts, bags, car bumpers, and even guitars, now decorates the black 12-hour chronograph sub-dial at 6 o’clock.
Frankly, with all my love for the band, I must admit that I don’t like the unartful way the timekeeper’s designer decided to place the famous logo, although I can see a sort of humorous statement in this.
To place on an expensive Swiss chronograph a logo of a group that was for all things practical a voice of the generation of weed-smoking, acid-dropping college dropouts that spent years studying Zen and going on spiritual journeys to India and Tibet only to later find themselves as CEOs of such multi-billion industry juggernauts like Apple and the like, is in a way similar to putting a chromed peace sign on a long polished hood of a Rolls-Royce.
Of course, just like the model it is based on, the Rolling Stones Edition is powered by the same El Primero 4061 self-winding caliber. Built in-house, the mechanism not only features intricate decoration techniques with a part of its balance wheel visible through a huge cutout between 9 and 12 hours and the rest put on display via the sapphire case back but also sports the Swiss brand’s signature 36,000 vibrations per hour frequency.
Not only gives it the mechanism that trademark “buzz” sound, but also makes the chronograph function (the tachymeter scale is printed quite ergonomically on the inner bezel flange) a bit more accurate than that on traditional movements with their relatively slow VPH of just 28,800 vph. The only drawback of such a design is that its parts wear a tad faster, too, and the power reserve is limited at just 50 hours. But those minor annoyances are negligible when compared to the huge, powerful mojo that the watch possesses.
If money is not an issue, it is the best time to place your order since the gadget’s total production volume is limited to just 250 numbered pieces.
WWR preliminary verdict
Build quality: 5/5
Value for money: 4/5
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Rolling Stones (ref. 03.2048.4061/77.C496) specification
Price: $9800 (MSRP)
Movement: Automatic, caliber El Primero 4061, 282 components, in-house, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31
Movement frequency: 36,600 vph
Power reserve: 50 hours
Movement decoration: Oscillating weight adorned with “Cotes de Geneve” motif, decorated bridges, ‘perlage’ (aka ‘circular-graining’) finish on the base plate
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph
Case: Stainless steel
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Silver-toned, sunburst, open-worked
Hour markers: Applied, rhodium-plated, luminous
Hands: Rhodium-plated, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with rubber lining on stainless steel triple folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, antireflective, cambered