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Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition Review

A long time in the past, earlier than the appearance of the quartz watch, observatory trials had been extraordinarily essential. Past the chronometric science, the advertising advantages related to these timing trials had been appreciable. For many years, observatories witnessed and vouched for the extent of precision that watchmakers had been capable of obtain. Nicely conscious of the status they may purchase, higher-end manufacturers submitted particularly ready actions to those trials. Amongst these manufacturers is Zenith, whose actions have gained over 2,300 chronometry prizes through the years! Half a century after the tip of observatory trials, primarily based on an concept initiated by Phillips Watches (particularly Aurel Bacs and Alex Ghotbi), Zenith presents a sequence of 10 watches powered by the historic chronometer Calibre 135, introduced again to life with some of the revered and proficient indie watchmakers, Kari Voutilainen. Let’s have a more in-depth take a look at the Zenith Calibre Observatoire.

The brand new Zenith Calibre Observatoire, subsequent to a classic Port Royal Chronomètre with Calibre 135

The Zenith Calibre 135

Whereas the El Primero chronograph is the title that involves thoughts when fascinated with Zenith and its actions, the Calibre 135 would possibly properly be as emblematic and essential. Offered in 1948, the calibre 135 was created by Ephrem Jobin and tasked by Charles Ziegler, Technical Director of Zenith. This chronometer calibre was particularly developed to satisfy the norms of the Neuchâtel Observatory competitions. Again then, on the peak of the battle at observatory trials, such competitions had been extraordinarily essential. Past the chronometric science, the advertising advantages related to these timing triumphs had been appreciable.

With the trials in thoughts, the Zenith Calibre 135 was designed with a 30mm diameter (the utmost dimension to enter the wristwatch class competitors) and a 5mm peak. Its design was primarily based on the concept of getting an especially massive 14mm stability wheel to boost precision and fee stability, and a big barrel to ship constant energy to the regulator. This required rebuilding the motion structure with a number of updates. As an illustration, off-setting the minute wheel to free area. Beating at 18,000 vibrations/hour, the stability was fitted with a Breguet overcoil spring and a swan-neck regulator for optimum adjustment.

Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition - historic Calibre 135

All of this makes the calibre 135 a motion of remarkable high quality. 11,000 items could be produced till 1962 and the overwhelming majority of the manufacturing was chronometer-certified. Because the Neuchâtel Observatory was not able to delivering so many certificates in time, the certification was carried out with the Le Locle Technicum. This motion additionally enabled the model to win quite a few chronometry awards: the Calibre 135 garnered 230 honours, lots of which had been first prizes. With this calibre, Zenith achieved an unprecedented and spectacular file with 5 consecutive first prizes for chronometry within the wristwatch class (from 1950 to 1954) licensed by the Neuchâtel Observatory.

Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition - historic Calibre 135

The Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Restricted Version

Amongst all of the totally different variations of the Zenith Calibre 135, the 135-O actions had been iterations made solely for collaborating in chronometry trials on the Observatories of Neuchâtel, Geneva, Kew Teddington and Besançon. It’s exactly 10 of those 135-O actions, unique observatory-tested actions, belonging to the historic 1950-1954 serial profitable years, which have been restored for the fashionable restricted version launched by Zenith in collaboration with Phillips and Kari Voutilainen. These actions had been ready for the competitions and fine-tuned yearlong by the Zenith “chronométriers” Charles Fleck and René Gygax. Every of them was awarded prizes within the first class vary. 

Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition - historic Calibre 135

Adorned in collaboration with Kari Voutilainen, the enduring 30mm hand-wound motion seems beneath a brand new mild. The ending is sober but fantastically executed. As Alex Ghotbi of Phillips explains: “These calibres had been made for competitions. They weren’t made to be worn or to be aesthetically pleasing. So, if we’re going to make a wristwatch out of this legendary calibre, who ought to we ask to take it to the following stage? Instantly we stated, Kari Voutilainen. He’s an absolute grasp.” On this respect, the concept was to take away as little materials as attainable from the actions, with traits tirés, hand-chamfering or snailing. There are even slight variations between the totally different actions, as an illustration, their engraving or their index (single or double arrow-shaped index).

Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition - historic Calibre 135

The limited-edition watch housing these redecorated historic calibres is a sublime, understated 38mm costume watch. Constituted of 950 platinum, the 38mm case options quick tapered lugs and a comparatively massive fluted crown emblazoned with Zenith’s fashionable brand. Underneath the box-shaped sapphire crystal, the black dial, crafted in Kari Voutilainen’s Comblémine workshop, is product of sterling silver. It’s barely domed with a guilloché fish-scale sample, triangular hour markers and utilized polished dot markers on the periphery. The big subsidiary seconds counter at 6 o’clock is adorned with a guilloché concentric round sample. It’s inscribed with the motion’s serial quantity. Lastly, the Neuchâtel caption at 6 o’clock is a nod to the Observatory trials and to the Canton the place the Zenith Manufacture relies.

Phillips x Voutilainen x Zenith Calibre Observatoire Limited Edition - historic Calibre 135

The Zenith Calibre Observatoire is worn on a black calfskin leather-based strap. It’s delivered in a walnut wooden field with brass fasteners, impressed by the containers by which the chronometry competitors calibres had been transported from the Zenith Manufacture to the Neuchâtel Observatory. 

Availability & Worth

Launched in 10 items solely, the Zenith Calibre Observatoire Restricted Version is bought completely by Phillips in affiliation with Bacs & Russo. The value is ready at CHF 132,900. For extra info, please go to www.zenith-watches.com and www.phillips.com/watches.

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