Zenith teams with Phillips and independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen to restore and hand-decorate a batch of vintage Zenith Caliber 135-O movements. As a result of this partnership, Zenith is launching the Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Edition, a stunning 38mm platinum chronometer watch rife with vintage design cues that complement the 1950s-era manual-wind movement inside.
The modern Zenith star logo on the dial may be the only contemporary design detail on this retro beauty. Its tapered lugs, sapphire glass box crystal, triangular hour markers, faceted gold hands and seconds subdial recall the mid-20th century era when Zenith routinely took prizes in Swiss chronometry competitions – frequently with its Caliber 135. With more than 230 chronometry prizes, the Caliber 135-O holds the most awards of any observatory chronometer caliber in the history of watchmaking.
In addition to hand finishing the movement, Voutilainen (through his atelier) also applied an eye-catching guilloché engraving in a fish-scale motif to the dial along the bezel. Inside the seconds subdial, you’ll find the movement’s serial number inscribed, a gesture meant to note that each movement, regulated originally by revered chronométriers Charles Fleck or René Gygax, has been updated by Voutilainen and his team.
“The persons working on these movements were the best watchmakers at the time. They had the know-how to make things precise. That precision doesn’t disappear after 70 years,” says Voutilainen. “Our duty was not to touch that performance.”
Voutilainen has refined the historical movement’s aesthetic appearance with hand chamfered and polished edges on the gold-colored bridges, beveled and polished screw-heads, circular graining on the main plate, snailed brushing on the ratchet and crown wheels and more.
Unusually, Zenith and Voutilainen has signed “Neuchâtel” at the bottom of the dial. This denotes the historical Observatory where the Calibre 135-O competed and won so many of it Swiss chronometry competitions.
Zenith and Phillips will offer the new Zenith Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Edition as a series of ten pieces sold exclusively by Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo. Price: CHF 132,900.
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