The Academy collection from Zenith is back with more, introducing this new Academy El Primero Minute Repeater Chronograph. This is a very high-end and exclusive version of the Zenith Elite design family which the model lives in. This isn't the first Zenith minute repeater, but they aren't common for the brand. For the right high-end collectors, this could be a very special timepiece.
Zenith is mostly known as an in-house movement maker and producer of the famous El Primero family of high beat automatic movements that operate at 5 Hertz (36,000 beats per hour). The El Primero is a base for most of their chronographs and is also the base for a chronograph with a minute repeater in this very uncommon Caliber 4043 El Primero movement that I recall from a rare model back in 2009. The 4043 caliber is back in a much more attractive piece that gives new life to the movement and theme.
What I like about the 461 part caliber 4043 movement is its practicality and beauty. It is also a fully integrated movement that seamlessly combines time, 30 minute chronograph, and minute repeater functions. It also features an admirable 50 hours of power reserve and is an automatic. Look how beautiful it is as well. It is truly an exceptionally designed and finished movement fitting for the Zenith El Primero name. There is just a slight amount of skeletonization in the 2012 Academy Minute Repeater Chronograph model around where you can view the minute repeater hammers through the dial of the watch. The 2009 piece with the 4043 movement was a bit more strange looking with more extensive dial skeletonization.
It is easy to love the silvered guilloche engraved dial on the face of the watch. On the face are also 18k rose gold hands and Roman numeral hour markers. The chronograph and subsidiary seconds dials don't really intrude on the hour markers as much as you'd think they might. I personally quite like minute repeaters with visible hammer and gong displays on the dial This piece does that well, but also preserves legibility for both the time and chronograph functions.
The Zenith Academy Minute Repeater Chronograph is actually a rather large timepiece. The case is 45mm wide in 18k rose gold and it is almost 17mm thick. That should however lead to a lot of space in the case for the gongs as well as air space for sound to reverberate. I have a feeling the minute repeater sounds lovely in this watch. Hopefully I will find out some day soon. Zenith will produce just a few of these as a limited edition set of 25 pieces. Price is $172,000.
Technical Specs from Zenith:
El Primero 4043, automatic
Calibre : 16¼``` (Diameter: 37 mm)
Thickness: 10.36 mm
Frequency: 36,000 VpH – (5 Hz)
Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
Finishings: 22-carat gold oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” pattern
Hours and minutes in the centre
Small seconds hand at 9 o’clock
• 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
Case, Dial & Hands
Material: 18-carat rose gold
Diameter: 45 mm
Thickness: 16.55 mm
Crystal & Case-back: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment on both sides
Water-resistance: 3 ATM
Dial: Silver-toned guilloché
Hour-markers: Gold Roman numerals
Hands: Gold-plated rhodiumed
Strap & Buckle
Alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining
Brown alligator leather
18-carat gold triple folding clasp