How many variations on Stairway to Heaven can you create, without ever matching the power and majesty of the original?
That’s the question watch designers must be asking at Zenith HQ, as another batch of El Primero watches make their debut, this time with some open heart skeleton novelties.
Sure, the El Primero is a great looker, especially in blue, silver or the tropical brown dials, but surely the time has come to launch something fresh in chronographs and put the El Primero in the `Heritage’ section on the company website?
So this year we have black, blue or white dial Chronomaster options, starting at about $9,500 and rising to $21,300 for the 18K gold case model. 40mm diameter, 60 hours reserve and strap or bracelet options at different price points.
What’s that sub dial doing with the open heart window at 9 o’clock by the way? To us, it just makes seeing the sub dial at a glance really difficult, so maybe..drop it?
If you like gold watches, then the El Primero powered Chronomaster Sport range for 2022 will fit the bill.
With an 18K gold case this retails at $37,200 and you can choose black, blue or two-tone dial colours. Matching two-tone bracelet on the two-tone dial variant too. Hard to find a reason for spending this wedge of cash on a solid gold El Primero, when there are so many more interesting watches to collect.
OK, so you are rich and you want to impress your fake friends at the races or the marina where you moor your latest gin palace; buy a Rolex, or a pre-owned Royal Oak instead. Oh and avoid 18K gold watches and bracelets, the metal is too soft, it marks easily and wears away over time. Then the links become loose. Buy platinum instead, it’s much more durable.
To say that Zenith’s offerings at Watches and Wonders was disappointing is an understatement. Like Rolex, there is a paucity of fresh thinking and ideas, a strategy of recycling past glories and trading on a reputation forged fifty years ago. All that is sad to see.