Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands-On

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands-On

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands On   hands on

I am here to answer the very important question of "can you even wear this watch?" I first wrote about the Zenith Christophe Colomb watch here. This question has salience because the movement in the Christophe Colomb watch requires that there be a large spheroid in the watch that makes it looks as though it has a tumor. This non-malignant growth is actually the "zero-gravity tourbillon." An escapement on gimbals that moves around such that the escapement more or less is always placed the same position. Does this improve performance at all? Highly doubtful. Consider it a visual toy. And to watch, the complication is cool, but not necessarily evocative of a "wow factor."

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands On   hands on

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands On   hands on

At the bottom of the "gear ball" is a polished gold weight that keeps the entire thing pointed in the right direction. People have confused this complication with what is in the Jeager-LeCoultre Gyrotourbillon. This is inaccurate. While the Gryotourbillon spins around on two axis points by itself, the "tourbillon" in the Christophe Colomb moves only with the power of gravity. Does that make more sense?

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands On   hands on

Zenith did a nice job with the watch for what it is - though it still looks intensely unlike a normal timepiece with the large protuberance. The sphere actually extends much more on the dial side of the watch case. So on the back, there is a round bump sticking out, but not so much as to make wearing the watch uncomfortable. So that answers that.

The escapement and its accompanying entourage of gears and metal move around in a manner that is as smooth as possible. It isn't perfect though, and it lacks a bit of the grace you might want to imbue a watch costing over $200,000 with. Still, the mechanism is impressive, and it still boggles my mind trying to figure out how Zenith made the complication look as it does, and still function as a proper escapement for the movement.

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands On   hands on

Zenith Christophe Colomb Watch Hands On   hands on

Aesthetically the case and dial are good looking. The dial has a guilloche machine engraved texture on it, while the watch face and dials are easy to read. There is almost a distinct "Breguet-ness" to the look. It is a fun watch if anything, and it looks good on posters. As part of Zenith's rebranding efforts I think it is a good marquee. Though my real passion lies with the brand's new El Primero chronograph watch models that are quite cherry.

I wonder to myself what people will think of the Christophe Colomb in 30 or so years. Will it still be cool? Will they make fun of it? Will any of them still work. Complications like this are showboaters for brands because the attention helps them. It is funny, because even though the Christophe Colomb is cool, it is hard to take seriously. Though at the same time, I must admit it does elevate my perception of the brand. I like to know that they put effort into making such things. If all that Zenith did was make El Primero chronographs, I think I would be a bit disappointed.

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10 comments
Crispin
Crispin

How do they even go about making those crystals?

pat I.
pat I.

I've only recently started wearing reasonably nice watches. I've trained myself to reach in the spring loaded door area of the snack machine with my right hand rather than my left - which is wear my watch lives.

The watch is interesting and it is lovely. But we as humans have been conditioned to do certain things a certain way. As Kris said I'd live to wager how long it would take for the bubble to break.

Then aain I suspect anyone who could afford such a watch probably never has to dip his hand in a snack machine.

Kris C
Kris C

Meh, I'm still not sold. It's just hard for me to envision an appropriate scenerio to wear this in. It doesn't even seem right for a suit or tux. Maybe thats just me. When I looked at the 1st piocture, it struck me that it really does come off as a bit Breguetish, but then you went and mentioned that in the artice so I won;t say say anything that make it look like I'm just reiterating comments already present. Whoops.

I doubt any of these will actually be worn in any real capacity, but if they were I'd start a pool on how long until one of the bubbles break. It just doesn't matter how well you create that crystal: the design comes with inherent weak points.

Pat I.
Pat I.

I believe the synthetic sapphire crystals are made from aluminum oxide- which makes them no different from natural sapphires.

The crystals are extremely hard...and brittle. To offset the brittleness they are baked at high temperatures. Then they're sliced and ground to size.
Machining and grinding synthetic sapphire is really expensive because the tooling is very expensive.

I can't even begin to imagine the cost involved in making these crystals. They're not shallow, so that's A LOT of grinding - unless they have a method from pre-forming them to a rough size.

Kris C
Kris C

Thats a pretty safe bet.

I applaud the willingness to try feats of engineering like this, but even were I able to afford it, I don't know that I would purchase something that could really only be for display purposes.

As today is Friday, I'm dressed down and wearing a G-Shock. I'd not only stick it in a vending machine, but a bear trap as well.

pat I.
pat I.

Kris-

Based on your comment, I'm starting to wonder how reliable the mechanical marvels really are. With all the engineering, and technology - belts, pulleys, 3 axis widgets, cam operated pointers, miniaturized slot machines, etc., it would be intersting to hear any customer stories.

I suspect the makers of these things now full well that the only time their creations will be worn is at the place of purchase. So I wonder if ruggedness and reliabilty is something they kinda push to the side since they know full well these watches are destined to wind up in a vault - or in the latest auction.

Crispin
Crispin

The bubble man, the bubble! It's got to involve sum kinda black-magic!

Or maybe they take date-magnifier doodads ship them over to the Super Hadron Collider thingy and shoot dark matter at the flat side and they just blow up like party balloons...

Is it weird or what?

Crispin
Crispin

The bubble man, the bubble! It's got to involve sum kinda black-magic!

Pat I.
Pat I.

I love the G-Shock - it's the watch version of Batman's utility belt. I almost bought one. But then Casio released the Edifice Black label collection.

Now I'm torn.

I wish Casio would consider putting in a retractable
steel wire for garroting your enemy - like John Litjgow had in "Blow Out".

Just kidding ;-)

admin
admin

I understand that the first versions of these movements a few years ago had all sort of issues and could stop working. But Zenith refined the concept a lot to make sure that these do work more. But sure, they are inherently fragile.

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  1. [...] of time combo, pointless, impractical (arguably unwearable) and imho, quite breathtaking. The Zenith Christophe Colomb Seems that the ALS Zeitwerk is pretty high on a lot of lust-lists and I think keeping with my [...]