Zenith – Vulcain : Alter ego

El Primero Tourbillon

Movement: mechanical self-winding El Primero Calibre 4035 D, 50-hour power reserve. Case: rose gold or steel. Diameter: 44mm. Functions: hours, minutes, chronograph with central seconds, 30-minute counter, 12-hour counter, tourbillon, small seconds on the carriage, date around carriage. Caseback: sapphire crystal. Strap: alligator and rubber. Water resistance: 100m


50s Presidents’ watch

Movement: mechanical self-winding, Vulcain Cricket Calibre V-21, 42-hour power reserve Case: rose gold or steel Diameter: 42mm Functions: hours, minutes, centre seconds, date, alarm Strap: Louisiana alligator leather Water resistance: 50m


Watch: El Primero Tourbillon

There’s no doubt about it: this classically styled tourbillon has that little something extra that is bound to appeal to devotees of fine watchmaking. This new Zenith reference, which is making its grand entrance into the family of iconic models from the Manufacture, features a wealth of horological feats. Not only is it equipped with an “in-house” tourbillon, but also features all the particularly useful functions of a chronograph with a calendar. The date function based on a patented system is displayed in an original manner by means of a disc placed around the rim of the tourbillon carriage. A genuine watchmaking challenge brilliantly taken up by the Manufacture Zenith, the El Primero calibre constitutes the heart of this exceptional model. While the high frequency assigned to this “motor” generates greater precision, it also calls for increased power. In order to protect its performances, the movement design engineers have developed an in-line escapement that shifts the balance spring to the outer edge of the rotating carriage. The result is a tourbillon and a high-frequency automatic chronograph with an over 50-hour power reserve. The pleasing result is clothed in steel for a sporting look or in rose gold with a sophisticated style featuring a case middle fashioned by a double stamping process that develops both a lengthwise and a breadth-wise curve.

Architectural counterpart: Fuji Kindergarten in Tokyo, designed by Tezuka Architects

Fuji Kindergarten in Tokyo is characterized by a circular cover beneath which the school’s various activities are carried out. The dominant impression is that the establishment is a house with a roof that can be played on. It is a facility that can be used all year long for children’s games and for teaching and learning.

The school’s courtyard is tucked into the centre of the built facility and the structure incorporates three existing trees. The cover over the school, pierced at three points, becomes a revealing element in the overall approach developed by the architects at this site. The roof picks up on and reinterprets the ground space, which for its part has been converted into a closed space. Nature is an integral part of the new structure and the site’s characteristic elements are preserved. When all is said and done, the building is nothing more than a cover; the elements of this object’s formal composition, i.e., the school activities, playground spaces and nature, are the only tangible manifestations of this building’s appearance.

Like the Zenith El Primero watch, the Fuji school incorporates the idea of seasonal changes affecting the trees that are part of the construction. They thereby serve as chronometers revealing the passing of time to people visiting the facility.


The watch: 50s presidents’ watch

This model had to have something exceptional about it to earn the much-coveted nickname “The Presidents’ Watch”. Adopted by American presidents from the 1950s onwards, Vulcain’s iconic watch has consistently cultivated the aura surrounding the legendary Cricket alarm. The brand offers a new take on this legend with the 50s Presidents’ Watch equipped with the new V-21 self-winding alarm movement. Its elegant and understated classicism betrays its Fifties origins. Inspired by a 1950s model while meeting the highest contemporary standards, its 42 mm case comes in rose gold or steel versions with alternating polished and satin-brushed surfaces. The rose gold version has an anthracite or silver-toned dial, and the steel version a choice of anthracite, silver-toned or smoky grey dial. At the heart of an extremely pure aesthetic setting, Vulcain has integrated the new Cricket V-21 self-winding movement stemming from over 60 years of constantly development and fine-tuning. The latter drives displays of the hours, minutes, central seconds and date – and of course the alarm function that has forged the reputation of Vulcain watches and significantly contributed to their reputation as “The Presidents’ Watch”.


Architectural counterpart: Villa Vals in Switzerland, designed by Search and CMA Architects

Inserted into the side of the hill, Villa Vals seems an integral part of the landscape that contains it and allows no part of itself to show. It is an intriguing built object that raises many questions about the dimensions of the structure and its real positioning in the land. This introverted building allows us to glimpse only the elements of itself that are essential to the function for which it was built, namely access to the house and the large glass facade that lets in natural light. Refusing to divulge its formal characteristics or the secrets of its private life, Villa Vals’ obvious intent is to focus on moderation and succinctness. To anyone wishing to see it, the structure reveals itself at the bend in a walkway or, in a highly sophisticated twist, when the viewer climbs to higher ground for a birds-eye view of the villa’s site.

Like the Vulcain watch, the slight interest seemingly taken in this object’s form paradoxically suggests the building’s outline, and imposes it as an indescribable presence. Devious, difficult to decode, the structure stands aloof from its surroundings and denotes the delicate impression of an iconic image.

Journaliste spécialisée en horlogerie, la plume de Marie présente les nouveautés tout en s'occupant de la rubrique Architecture.

Review overview