Baselworld releases often have the watch industry equivalent of a restaurant’s ‘soft opening’ up to months before the actual fair, and so it was at the end of January 2013 in Geneva when I visited Zenith’s temporary digs and saw one of this year’s official Basel releases, the Christoph Colomb Hurricane.
The very distinctive Christoph Colomb complications fall under Zenith’s ‘Acaemy’ collection, and have the large fishbowl like sapphire crystal protrusion at 6 o’clock which worries anyone who sees the watch (potential ding magnet). Its purpose, however, is not just to be quirky – Zenith have suspended the escapement and balance in a cage so that it looks like a floating mechanical ball, to try and increase the preciseness of time measurement – no matter how the wearer moves his or her wrist, you will see that the balance will always move back to a horizontal position – it is called a ‘cardanic suspension’, or ‘gimbal’.
As well as the gimbal, the Hurricane also utilises a chain-and-fusée, visible underneath the main hour and minutes subdial, to control variations and stabilise force as the mainspring unwinds. Although it seems to be popping up here and there of late, a chain-and-fusée is a rare beast and technical feat; and it took Zenith some two years to get it right for the Hurricane. The chain is made of 585 components and is 18cm long. The movement inside it is the manual wind El Primero 8805, with a fifty hour power reserve.
The hours and minutes are at 12 o’clock, small seconds at 9 o’clock, and power reserve indicator at 3 o’clock. The hour markers are black lacquer and the hands blued steel. The 45 mm rose gold case has an open case back for the owner’s viewing pleasure.