Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución
Baselworld - Zenith enriches the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane line with three timepieces in tribute to three South American revolutionary figures: Simón Bolívar, “Che” Guevara and Emiliano Zapata.
The Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución watches stand out immediately from the rest of the Zenith collection. The open dial architecture gives pride of place to the movement, making it possible to see and admire the three original mechanisms: the barrel with fusée-chain transmission appearing between 10.30 and 1.30 on the dial; the gravity control gyroscopic module – a revolution in Fine Watchmaking; as well as the high-frequency regulator at 6 o’clock. The technicality of this timepiece also stems from intensive aesthetic research calling upon the talents of the best craftsmen, whose skills Zenith is committing to maintaining. The three gold subdials – hours/minutes at 12 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock and power reserve at 4 o’clock – have been finely guilloché and then enamelled, equipped with blued steel hands reflecting the finest watchmaking traditions and screwed to the plate with blued steel screws. The plate has been hollowed out to fit the shape of the dials and the gyroscopic module. On the remaining super-light structure, five stars including Zenith’s, have been carved in relief and coated in midnight blue varnish. In parallel, the decor of the gravity control system’s counterweight shows an entirely hand-crafted micro-painting depiction of the Southern hemisphere.
On the case-back, the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución has three big surprises in store. As its name indicates, the timepiece is available in three versions paying tribute to three figures from South American revolutions: Simón Bolívar, Ernesto “Che” Guevara and Emiliano Zapata. These are miniature paintings produced by the best craftsmen with the help of a sophisticated system of gold appliques fixed directly onto the movement. On the first model, in the foreground left of the counterweight of the gyroscopic module depicting the Southern hemisphere, is a portrait of general and politician, Simón Bolívar. Above him is his sword, and to the right of the counterweight are his pistols. In the background is the man riding a white horse that one can see is prancing. Finely carved and painted by hand, these details are achieved with the utmost delicacy and under a microscope. On the back of the second model is the portrait of Ernesto Guevara, known as the “Che”, wearing his famous beret. This Argentinian, who was the man behind the Cuban revolution, is standing proudly above the counterweight of the gyroscopic module, while, on both sides, his followers are depicted brandishing their guns. The characters are in gold and carved by hand, while the details of the Cuban flag, on the left, and the ocean with the island of Cuba, in the top right hand corner, are painted under a microscope. The back of the third model catches the eye with its reference to Mexican art, with bright colours surrounding an openworked portrayal of a rider and his horse astride the gyroscopic module. On the bottom right, a cactus sits opposite the portrait of the revolutionary. Here too, this exceptional work on the tiniest details was done under a microscope. Completely hand-finished by skilled craftsmen, these extraordinarily delicate adornments transform the three Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución into authentic collector’s items.
Three originals mechanics
While Christopher Colombus was the man behind a major discovery in human history, the timepiece bearing his name houses a movement in which three major horological discoveries contribute to peerless precision: a regulator with a high oscillation frequency (36,000 vibrations/hour) serving to divide time into tenth-of-a-second units; a fusée-chain transmission system compensating for the variations in force of the barrel as it winds down; and a patented gravity control module neutralising the effects of gravity on the rate of the watch. In other words, the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane solves problems relating to wearing the watch (gravity) as well as running duration (due to a drop in torque), all the while ensuring remarkably precise time measurement (thanks to the oscillation of the balance). These performances are powered by an exceptional movement comprising 939 parts, including 354 for the calibre itself and 585 for the fusée-chain transmission.
As the mechanical movement gradually unwinds, it loses amplitude (due to a narrower angle of oscillation of the balance) and therefore also precision. Compensation must thus be made for the progressively decreasing barrel force. Thanks to the helical shape of its fusee, the fusée-chain transmission system of the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane keeps the driving force perfectly stable even when the barrel spring is steadily slackening. While pocket watches were generally equipped with a fusée until the 18th century, very few watch brands today are capable of fitting this mechanism inside the limited space available within a wristwatch. After two years of research and development, Zenith has achieved just that. The transmission between the barrel and the fusée is accomplished through a 585-part, 18 cm-long chain. Once wound, this highly complex architecture featuring alternating double and intermediate links is able to resist traction of up to 3 kg. Throughout the duration of the power reserve (minimum 50 hours), the mainspring transmits its energy to the fusée via the chain that coils around the barrel. By adjusting the variations in tension, the fusée ensures the regularity of the force delivered to the gear train, and then to the silicon escape-wheel housed inside the gyroscopic carriage. While it takes over 50 hours for the chain to be entirely let down, meaning to wrap itself around the barrel, manual winding via the stem, which takes only a few seconds, causes the fusée and barrel to turn in a counter-clockwise direction so that the chain once again wraps itself around the fusée. The shape of the fusée is dictated by the optimal force with which the Zenith master-watchmakers wanted to endow the barrel. Its cone-like shape and its dimensions stem from extremely complex calculations made for each of the seven stages involved in its construction.
While the fusée-chain transmission does away with variations in isochronism (equal duration of oscillations), the movement cancels out another phenomenon that is detrimental to its smooth rating: the influence of gravity. Based on the principle that keeping the regulating organ in a horizontal position guarantees the balance the widest possible amplitude and thus optimal timekeeping precision, Zenith has devised and patented a revolutionary module enabling the heart of the movement and the escapement to remain permanently in this position. An avant-garde system illustrating the creative daring of the Manufacture, the gravity control system is also a tribute to history, since it is inspired by the marine chronometers that Zenith used to produce. It notably borrows from these ancestral instruments the use of the gimbal suspension system, introduced on marine compasses in the 16th century to enable them to stay horizontal despite the pitching and rolling of the ship. Thanks to its self-regulating gyroscopic mechanism, the gravity control system thus keeps the regulating organ of the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane permanently in this position, whatever the slant of the wrist. The result of five years of development, this system represents the ultimate evolution of the marine chronometer. Zenith is to date the only Manufacture to master this system, which was indeed rewarded at the 2011 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix, in the Best Complicated Watch category.
Watch box or cigar box?
The three timepieces composing the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane Revolución edition are presented in a mahogany box adorned with corner trims and an oxbone lock. The effigies of the three characters after which the models are named are silkscreened onto a piece of papyrus embedded in the cover. The box also boasts another distinctive feature, in that once the watches are removed, it can be transformed into a case able to accommodate up to 200 cigars under excellent conditions.