Last year, Zenith unveiled the vintage El Primero collection during the Basel show. Which was, by far, my favorite of their new collections. They had some other nice timepieces as well, but in general, the majority of their designs were not well received. Too many of their designs were so off from the original Zenith look, that the company had begun to lose its following over the past five years.
Fast forward to 2010, under the new direction of Jean-Frédéric Dufour, who previously worked for Chopard, Ulysse Nardin and the Swatch Group. As part of his turnaround strategy, he has begun to reduce the number of references and bring the company back to basics. To start, the company will be introducing an exciting new El Primero Chronograph model, very much like Vintage 1969 El Primero Chronograph they introduced last year, except this one has a more contemporary case design and look. It also features a very cool new jumping seconds function (foudroyante).
Powering the new El Primero chronograph is the new 4052B automatic calibre which is a variation of the famous El Primero movement that was originally introduced in 1969. Like the original movement, the new one runs at the high rate of 36,000 vph.
However, unlike the original this version is equipped with a foudroyante (jumping/flying seconds) function. And unlike any other foudroyante on the market, that I can think of, this one can display chronograph times with 1/10 of a second accuracy, as opposed to 1/8th or 1/6th, like most jumping seconds chronographs. That is not all, though, it can also display the jumping seconds differently than any other watch on the market. Instead of displaying a fraction of a second in a subdial, the measurement is displayed by a central hand.