Zenith has decided to take one of its amazing models and enrich it in order to reach the level of pure awesomeness. The New Zenith Grand Voyage is based on Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane piece and includes all of its technical excellence. First of all, it uses an intricate gyroscopic device, guarded with a highly domed sapphire section, which keeps the regulating organ of the watch in the horizontal position. Secondly, the frequency of the regulating organ is 36,000 vph since its movement is an El Primero and, finally, it comes with a fuse and chain system attached to the barrel which guarantees constant force regardless of the remaining power reserve. As if these impressive features were not enough, Zenith decided to make a special version of the timepiece which will also involve amazing examples of artistic crafts – enameling, engraving and miniature painting used to create a depiction of Christopher Columbus and his flagship – which are mainly visible on the rear side of the movement through its transparent case back. New Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage is made in an exclusive limited edition of ten pieces which can be bought at the staggering price of $353,000.
The newcomer by Zenith as its predecessor which premiered at the start of the year at the SIHH 2013 owes its complexity to amazing El Primero 8805 manual-wound movement which like all El Primero calibers operates at the high frequency of 5 Hz. This is even more significant and uncommon considering the level of complexity found in the movement. Just the basis of the caliber consists of 354 parts, while the total number of components approaches four figures once we calculate the parts used for two of its main complications: a gimbal cage used to balance the regulating organ and fusee and chain system for constant force (especially the number of parts used for the chain) regardless of the remaining power in its storage that lasts for 50 hours. El Primero 8805 integrates 53 jewels in its construction; it is 16 ½ lignes wide (which equals to 37 mm) and has the thickness of 5.85 mm.
Main Technical Hinted on a Skeletonized, Engraved and Enameled Dial
Since we have already written in detail about the technical intricacy of the used caliber, let us not delve further into that subject and turn our attention to the amazing examples of métiers d’art that can be seen on the amazing limited edition of Zenith watches from the Academy collection, starting from the front side. However, we should point up that each of the three amazing technical traits can actually be seen on a skeletonized three-dimensional dial of the timepiece. The movement’s barrel with the conjoined fusee and chain system is visible at the 10:30 and the 1:30 positions; while gravity neutralizing gyroscopic device and the 5 Hz regulating organ sit at the bottom of the face.
When looking on the dial of the watch dedicated to Christopher Columbus, one can recognize the immense level of craftiness used only to hand-decorate the three existing indications on the dial – hours and minutes (at the top), small seconds (at the nine o’clock place) and a power reserve indication (at the four o’clock position). Each of these three displays features a guilloche pattern, white enamel coating and blued hands and screws. Furthermore, the top plate of the skeletonized movemement is completely hollowed by hand and lacquered in a lovely midnight blue shade, except for the brand’s logo and a few starts which stand out at a higher level. Probably the most amazing detail visible on the front side is the counterweight to the “anti-gravity” system which depicts a micro-painting of the Earth’s Southern hemisphere. Needless to say, the charming painting is completely done by hand.
Mind-Blowing Intricate Scene at the Back with Christopher Columbus and the Santa Maria Ship
Even though the front part of the watch includes several listed impressive ornaments, the real fun starts when you flip the watch to the other side. Once you do it, you can see an amazing miniature painting which, with all its vivid colors and rich decorations performed by master specialists of many artistic crafts, serves as a tribute to the famous sea explorer after whom it was named. The entire composition was made by utilizing a system of appliqués made of gold that were directly set on the movement. Probably the first thing that grabs one’s attention is a depiction of the Santa Maria, the flagship vessel of Christopher Columbus on his historic voyage in 1492. It includes minute cut-out and micro-engraved pieces which show the astoundingly detailed reproduction of the iconic ship, especially when ropes and rigging are concerned. Then, there are lovely white sails which are made in enamel with the use of champlevé technique on a cloisonné base. All except one sail are with the historically accurate red crosses, while the last one is made with the brand’s famous symbol that shows a guiding star.
The Santa Maria sales on the ocean, which is actually the movements going train bridge that has been engraved with tiny waves and subsequently lacquered with a translucent coating. Even further back, the barrel bridge is micro-painted in order to represent sky which has been additionally divided to night and day. A final detail in this section of the décor is a tiny gilded gear train which represents the Sun on the horizon.
However, this is not the whole story since the ornaments likewise include exquisite engravings at the bottom of the movement, placed at both sides of the gimbal suspension device. On the right, there is a representation of a sextant, the navigational instrument of unprecedented importance; whereas on the left, there is an engraving which shows the face of Christophe Columbus, the legendary explorer after whom the watch has been named in the first place.
It should be said that Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Grand Voyage has a 18K rose gold housing with the diameter of 45 mm. Its thickness is 14.8 mm and the thinnest point is 21.8 mm at the most elevated section of its domed crystal. Needless to say, the crystal is made of cambered sapphire which has a glare-proof treatment on both sides, while its water resistance measures to 30 meters. The Zenith newcomer with the reference number 18.2211.8805/36.C713 is paired with a brown alligator strap which fastens with a triple folding clasp made of rose gold. It comes in a luxurious mahogany box with ox bone inlays which in a truly high-end fashion can also serve as a humidor with a capacity of 80 cigars. The final touch is the fact that it likewise features screen-printing on papyrus which reproduces the first map to mention the word “America”.