Zenith and Range Rover The new horological SUV
Zenith announces a new partnership with the iconic Range Rover brand and presents the first Range Rover watch.
Earlier this year I offered my thoughts on the best watch to match up with the iconic Land Rover Defender, the last model of which rolled off the production line in Solihull earlier this year. The selection was functional and largely inspired by the Defender’s military and functional roots. The luxury offering from the same stable, the Range Rover, was mentioned only in passing. Yet there is now an official Range Rover watch thanks to a new partnership between UK’s Land Rover and Swiss watch brand Zenith, announced last night in Paris on the eve of the city’s annual motor show.
The Range Rover is the original luxury SUV. First presented as a prototype in 1969 (the same year that Zenith’s El Primero chronograph was launched), the more refined four-wheeled drive vehicle from the English Midlands came with a more powerful 3.5 litre V8 engine and predated the first use of the abbreviation SUV by nine years. A new El Primero Range Rover Special Edition now signals the start of a long-term partnership between two brands with iconic products that date back to 1969.
“The match between our two brands is very strong,” says Zenith CEO Aldo Magada. “Zenith and Range Rover are both pioneers in our respective industries, and we both create unique, innovative products. Through timeless design, both brands express authentic luxury. The Zenith team is very excited to start this long-term partnership with Range Rover, another superb brand and kindred spirit.”
The main challenge with producing the first timepiece born of this new partnership was staying true to that specifically human ingredient that is increasingly being found in brands and manufactured objects: DNA. In the case of Range Rover, the crucial element is typical British understatement, which oozes from the words of Gerry McGovern, Land Rover’s Chief Design Officer: “We looked to the reductive nature of a modern Range Rover interior and the Zenith team translated that into the dial of the watch, keeping it simple and unfussy.” In reality this translates into a “ceramised” aluminium case with a matching brushed grey dial and practical rubber-coated perforated calfskin straps. No bells and whistles, just pure form and function.
Much as the 3.5 litre V8 engine used in the first Range Rover ushered in a new era of luxury motoring, the El Primero chronograph movement introduced by Zenith in the same year heralded a new era in precision timekeeping, offering a high-frequency mechanical chronograph function that could display elapsed times down to an accuracy of one tenth of a second. In the Range Rover Special Edition, the self-winding El Primero 400B calibre still beats at 36,000 vibrations per hour (5 Hz) and offers a 50-hour power reserve.