Thinking of Zenith for your first, or maybe your next watch? Then the chances are that you’re thinking of the ‘El Primero’ movement and chronograph in one of its many configurations. And, why not? In 1969 it was the first ever fully integrated Hi-beat column wheel chronograph in the world, now enjoying its 50th anniversary and ticking on strongly.
But I wasn’t hunting for a chronograph. I’ve enough of them, both column wheel and cam activated, to time the trip to Mars. No, I was after a thin modern casual dress watch with a manufacture movement that offered some unique features, at the right price of course which is always as cheaply as possible. I looked at the usual suspects like JLC, Nomos, IWC and a few other brands but for various reasons (thickness, price, got one already, case shape, outsourced movement) I landed on the Zenith Elite.
As a manufacture Zenith can’t risk having only one caliber in its stable no matter how iconic and good it may be. The Elite movement is important to Zenith because it offers another trick to their watch game. The movement was conceived in 1991 and born in 1994. It became the darling of BaselWorld being awarded best movement of that year. It’s a thin, robust and reliable caliber with 50 hours of power under the hood. For reasons of history that you can look up yourself the movement kicked around the edges of Zenith watches without making the desired impact.
20 years later Zenith rethought this caliber, designing it with twin barrels and 100 hours of power reserve. Now called it the Caliber 6150 and announced at BaselWorld in 2015 it was warmly received. That watch had a silver dial, followed by my blue dial variant in 2016. The 6150 caliber is 3.9 mm thin, 30 mm wide, has 195 assembled parts and 35 jewels beating away at a contemporary 28,800 BPH.
The watch is a three hander, central seconds with hacking, without any other frills. The case is bowl shaped sitting into the wrist coming in at a modern 42 mm by 50 mm lug to lug, just over 9 mm thick with a sapphire case back and 50 meters of WR. It’s polished top and bottom, with unusual vertical brushing on the flanks and lugs creating excellent contrast. It’s worth noting that the lugs droop downwards sharply in a tear-drop style to hug around the wrist increasing wearability. The bezel is thin giving an all-dial appearance for easy legibility and older eyes. The cambered dial is a deep sunburst royal blue with engraved etched indices in single and double strokes. It comes on a matching blue leather strap with a soft rubber lining activated by a fully machined deployant clasp with twin trigger release. Innovative and fitting my wish list for style and quality.
I’ll let my photos do the rest of the talking, only adding that I got this new watch at a fair price with great service from both Zenith Australia and The HourGlass, Brisbane. Thanks for reading what I’ve shared and if you’re considering Zenith, make sure you get to know all that this historic brand has on offer. It pays to sometimes think outside the box.