After an entire year celebrating one of the most iconic movements in history and Zenith’s most important creation ever, namely the El Primero, and following several collections of bold sports watches, including the Defy, it is time for Zenith to return to a slightly forgotten area of watchmaking, the classic elegant watch. Not entirely a new watch per se, as the Elite has already existed in the past, what the brand is presenting today is, however, a fully revamped collection. Let’s have a first look at the new 2020 Zenith Elite Classic and Moonphase 40.5mm.
Zenith has recently been focusing on its legendary movement, the El Primero, which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2019. Multiple commemorative watches were launched, including the Revival A386 and Revival A384, in addition to more contemporary pieces. Previous years were also devoted to sportier models with most of the new watches appearing under the Pilots or the Defy collections. And in-between those, the Elite was almost entirely forgotten. Still, this discreet collection was and still is a classic member of the brand and has undergone a complete overhaul.
The finality of the Elite collection has always been that of a dressy, elegant watch, not a pure dress “tuxedo” piece. As such, it has never been a competition for the Altiplanos of this world. It was a well-proportioned, sleek and discreet piece. The 2020 Zenith Elite collection is not about to change that but it does introduce some more contemporary touches to the mix.
The base for this watch is a simple, well-designed 40.5mm case – available in steel or 18k rose gold – with thin lugs and bezel. The case is mostly polished, with brushed accents on top of the lugs. It shows a slight inspiration from the past, with mid-20th century codes but in an overall modern package. What has really changed on these new Elite watches is the dial, which now displays (whatever the colour or the complication) a stamped radial sunray pattern, giving the watches a graphic and dynamic look. It is combined with faceted and tapered applied indexes and dauphine hands.
The Zenith Elite Classic 40.5mm
The first model in this new Zenith Elite collection is named “Classic” and features a 40.5mm case, available in steel with a blue dial and strap, or in 18k rose gold with a silver dial and brown strap.
This Elite Classic is a rather simple time-and-date version with the time displayed centrally and the date in a window at 6 o’clock – positioned too far in the centre of the dial, though (a sign of a small-ish movement). Powering this version is the in-house calibre Elite 670, a movement that is well-known at Zenith since it powers most of the time-and-date watches, including the Skeletonized Defy watches. This automatic movement runs at 4Hz and provides 48 hours of energy. It will be visible through the caseback – no photos of the movement provided yet.
Two versions will be available, the steel/blue model (ref. 03.3100.670/02.C922) priced at CHF 5,900 and the gold/silver model (ref. 18.3100.670/01.C920) priced at CHF 12,900.
The Zenith Elite Moonphase 40.5mm
The second model in the 2020 Zenith Elite collection is the “Moonphase”. Inside the same 40.5mm case, what we have here is a slightly more complicated no-date version, which is available in steel with a slate grey dial or in 18K rose gold with a silver dial and blue accents.
This moon-phase function adds some charm to the display. While the hours and minutes are still positioned centrally, the seconds are displayed at 9 o’clock – not in a sub-dial but with 4 small indexes – to keep the pattern of the dial intact. A moon-phase indication is placed at 6 o’clock in a blue circular window with a rhodium or gold-plated moon, depending on the case material. Inside this Moonphase version of the Zenith Elite is the calibre Elite 692, which shares the same mechanical base with the previous watch – automatic, 4Hz frequency, 48h power reserve. The moon indication is adjusted by the crown.
Here again, two versions will be available, the steel/slate model (ref. 03.3100.692/03.C923) priced at CHF 6,900 and the gold/silver model (ref. 18.3100.692/01.C922) priced at CHF 13,900.
More details at www.zenith-watches.com.
This post first appeared on Monochrome Watches - An online magazine dedicated to fine watches.