Yesterday, Swiss watch manufacturer Zenith and British car manufacturer Land Rover announced a long-term partnership commitment, beginning with a limited edition El Primero Chronograph that features design cues that pay homage to the iconic Range Rover.
Why did Zenith and Land Rover form a brand partnership?
First, the two company’s most famous product lines, respectively, the El Primero and Range Rover, were created the same year: 1969. Furthermore, three years after, according to Zenith, “explorer John Blashford-Snell crossed the Darién Gap – an inhospitable marshland and virgin forest area on the border between Colombia and Panama – at the wheel of an early Range Rover and with an El Primero chronograph on his wrist.”
Second, both companies have a similar clientele, and therefore, they decided it was a good strategic investment, especially considering that automobiles and wristwatches are two products that naturally complement each other.
This is surely either a love or hate type of product, as are most automotive related timepieces.
Regardless of the appeal of co-branded timepieces, the new Zenith El Primero Range Rover has a matte black color scheme that is a unique in comparison to the majority of El Primeros in existence. Not to say it is the first black case withing the El Primero line, but it is arguably one of the most understated. Moreover, I find the brushed gray dial particularly striking. Especially in contrast to the applied rhodium-plated faceted hour indices; and the rhodium-plated faceted hands. Coupled with the brushed steel flange, with printed tachymeter scale, and the white printed outer chapter ring and subdials, the watch exudes a sporty elegance reminiscent of a Range Rover.
As far as actual nods to the Range Rover, they are all very subtle. The only element on the dial side that identifies the partnership is the words “Zenith Range Rover” printed in white at 12.
The case features a matte black aluminum and ceramic alloy case symbolizing the Range Rover body which is crafted using aluminum for the body.
And on the back, the words “El Primero Range Rover/Special Edition” are engraved around the perimeter. Finally, the oscillating weight, which is skeletonized and features a circular satin brushing motif, is engraved with a Zenith logo on one side and Range Rover logo on the other.
Of course, powering the watch is the El Primero movement (caliber 400B) which beats at 5Hz (36,000 vph). It has 326 parts, 31 jewels, and a 50-hour power reserve. The chronograph features a column-wheel with a horizontal clutch.
The Zenith El Primero Range Rover is completed by a blue or ivory-toned perforated calfskin leather strap, featuring a black rubber-coated backing and edges, with a triple folding clasp in DLC-treated titanium. It is crafted from the same high-quality leather hide used in Range Rovers.
The case measures 42 mm x 12.75 mm, features a push-in crown, a cambered sapphire crystal, exhibition caseback, and water-resistance to 100 meters. (Ref. 24.2040.400/27.R797) The retail price is $7,700.