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."
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 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.
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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