In the past five years or so, Zenith has seen a renaissance. With a newly minted direction set by CEO Jean-Frederic Dufour (now CEO of Rolex) in 2009, Zenith brought together a cohesive brand identity linked to both the past and trailblazing the future. In 1969 Zenith launched the El Primero, a high frequency movement, which continues to beat inside the brand’s modern-day watches.
As a preview to Basel, Zenith presented the Academy Georges Favre-Jacot, in tribute to the founder of the company and the brand’s 150th anniversary. The Academy Georges Favre-Jacot uses a modern version of the foundation 36,000bph movement, which is COSC certified, to showcase their modern and creative technique. This iteration is the El Primero 4810, a handwound movement.
Adhering to the company’s motto of daring and adventure, the Academy Georges Favre-Jacot includes a fusee and chain mechanism, the highlight of the piece which is viewed through the top half of the dial. The fusee and chain is a mechanism that regulates the tension released into the going train, equalizing the power released from the barrel over time in order to increase precision, giving it the name constant force. It’s a complex system to master, especially in the small space of a watch. While the fusee and chain is a centuries old mechanism, albeit a still relevant one, Zenith also incorporates modern techniques into their watches as seen with the silicon escapement wheel to reduce friction.
The Academy Georges Favre-Jacot features a 50-hour power reserve; however, Zenith engineered the movement such that it only takes a few turns of the crown to turn the fusee and barrel counterclockwise to bring the watch back to full power. Inspired by the 19th century aesthetic when Favre-Jacot worked, two bridges screwed to the mainplate support the arbors of the fusee and barrel.
A fitting contrast to the enamel grained silver-toned dial, the hours and minutes hands are blued, while the seven hour-markers are gold-plated and faceted, demonstrating that Zenith didn’t stint on the details. A slender bezel allows full focus on the showcase fusee and chain.
The Academy Georges Favre-Jacot keeps the DNA of Zenith intact, and at the same time pushes the brand into the future. Georges Favre-Jacot would be proud. The watch is limited to 150 pieces, at a price of $82,700, and will be made available in 2015.
Photo Credit: Haute Time. For more information, please visit the official Zenith website.