Once upon a time before the watch industry was as massive as today, back at observatories in Switzerland, manufacturers held competitions to verify the best caliber movements. One brand stood out amongst the others by winning five consecutive years between 1950 and 1954. That brand was Zenith and they won with Calibre 135-O, proving that their dedication for craftsmanship since 1865, had been a worthy endeavor. Now the brand has collaborated with Philips and Kari Voutilainen to recreate 10 limited editions of these prize-winning movementsThe 38mm case is made of 950 platinum with vertically brushed sides and polished accents. While mounted to the case is a mirror-like polished bezel, which extends these aesthetics to the lug hoods that also include the brushed finished sides.On the flip-side is an exhibition caseback that allows a view into the inner workings of mechanical movement. The Calibre 135-O holds the most awards of any observatory chronometer calibre in the history of watchmaking, by winning over 230 chronometry prizes.It comes equipped with a knurled crown embossed with the Zenith star logo. The simplicity of the case is contradicted by the historic caliber housed inside. All topped by a box-shaped sapphire crystal that assists with water-resistance reaching up to 30 meters (98 feet).Time is exhibited on a sterling silver dial with black matte finishing, rhodium-plated and faceted German silver triangular hour markers and applied dot minute markers. This dial was made by the Finnish watchmaker Kari Voutilainen, at his Comblémine atelier.This dial may not be very flashy, but it is a work of art. It all begins with a sterling silver base that gets an all-black treatment. The center portion has a matte finish, while the flange is decorated by a fish-scale hand-guilloche pattern.There is also a snailed textured sun-dial on the lower-half, which has been inscribed with the individual movement number, as recorded during the Neuchâtel Observatory trials. The rhodium-plated and faceted central gold hands are shaped like daggers, opposing the triangle shaped indexes. There is no lume on this timepiece, which is far from a dealbreaker, since this highly exclusive model was made to be an historic recreation.
Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition
The “Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition” (Ref#: 40.1350.135/21.C1000) is powered by the historic hand-wound caliber 135-O with 19 jewels, and 18,000 vph. This caliber was developed from 1945 onwards by Ephrem Jobin, and produced from 1949 until 1962 in two distinct versions: a commercial variant, and a second iteration made solely to take part in chronometry competitions at the Observatories of Neuchâtel, Geneva. Power reserve can last up to 40 hours, when fully wound.Mounted on to the watch is a black calfskin leather strap, secured to the wrist by a white gold pin buckle. This is a limited edition of only 10 manufactured pieces, sold exclusively by Philips. Fore more up to date information visit the official Zenith website here or the Philips website here.