April 16, 2016
by Ariel Adams
The newest limited edition Christophe Colomb watch from Zenith is meant to honor The Rolling Stones. This is the third or fourth watch produced by Swiss Zenith in collaboration with the popular and now legendary rock and roll group. Debuted at Baselworld 2016, the new Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute To The Rolling Stones was “officially” debuted on March 25, 2016, when The Rolling Stones held a “landmark” concert in Cuba – a first for the group.
At almost a quarter-million dollars in price, it isn’t likely that many (or any) of the Cuban concert goers will be able to afford this timepiece – and it is limited to only five pieces. Sentiments over the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute To The Rolling Stones watch were mixed at Baselworld as collaboration timepieces such as this are known to be polarizing and attract strong feedback.
If you happened to be a certain age in the 1960s or 1970s, and happen to have been fortune enough to earn more than your share of life’s rewards, then perhaps you can both afford and appreciate the concept of an extremely high-end The Rolling Stones watch – especially if the band’s music was influential in your youth. Pretty much everyone I know has wide familiarity with their music, but how many people want a high-horological reminder of that fact on their wrist? At least five people, for sure. Timepieces such as this can be oddly conflicting for even the most ardent of watch lovers unless they have that perfect balance of interest in both the timepiece and the theme (in this case, The Rolling Stones). Otherwise, the concept can come across as a dud. Nevertheless, it works well for those who are taken by what Zenith has done in this and other examples of combining horological tradition with history and/or pop culture.
The first Zenith and The Rolling Stones watch came out in 2014 (covered on aBlogtoWatch here), and it is interesting that the partnership continues. That must mean people on both sides are seeing success with these products. The Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute To The Rolling Stones is easily the highest-end timepiece born of the relationship. The base watch is the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb (hands-on here) which was originally debuted in 2010 – though the underlying mechanical technology was used by Zenith for a few years prior to that.
At 45mm wide in 18k rose gold, the watch case is 14.35mm thick, but goes to 21.4mm thick where the sapphire crystal “bubble” for the “zero-gravity” regulation system is mounted. The concept is interesting and fun to play with. What you have is a highly complex spherical regulation system consisting of the balance wheel and escapement which is designed on a gimbal. Weighted from the bottom, the idea is that no matter which direction you move the watch in, the regulation organ remains upright. Theoretically, this is meant to enhance accuracy. It is also fun to play with when wearing the watch and moving your wrist around…
The movement inside the watch is the in-house-made Zenith El Primero caliber 8804. Manually-wound, the “high-beat” mechanical movement operates at a fast frequency of 5Hz (36,000bph), which is designed to make the movement more accurate over time. The movement is produced from 479 parts, which includes the 171 components for the “gyroscopic carriage.” Functionally, the movement offers the time (with separate subdial for the seconds) and a power reserve indicator. These dials are not ultra easy to read, as Zenith dedicated much of the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute To The Rolling Stones’ dial to celebrating the main theme of the watch.
With The Rolling Stones’ logo, open-lips-with-tongue symbol, and British Union Flag, each dial is hand enamel painted with gold appliques for the hands and index markers. If you are really into The Rolling Stones, it is a cool concept, for sure.
Even though Zenith and The Rolling Stones have been in a business relationship for a few years, I have yet to see and actual images of the band members themselves wearing Zenith watches or actually speaking about the collaboration. This isn’t an ambassador relationship, so I don’t expect to see Mick Jagger or Keith Richards solely wearing Zenith timepieces, but the collaboration feels as though it is missing the more overt approval of the band members themselves. Understanding some of the less sexy logistical and business realities behind such deals, I can easily fathom some of the barriers to making this happen, but I feel as though Zenith owes it to themselves to connect the people behind The Rolling Stones with the Zenith watches dedicated to their work a bit more at this point in the relationship.
As stated, Zenith will produce just five pieces of the limited edition Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute To The Rolling Stones watch, which on the attached brown alligator strap has a retail price of $243,000 USD. zenith-watches.com