Thierry Nataf’s time at Zenith Watches was a controversial episode, but time has vindicated one of his signature innovations: the open escapement dial. This Zenith Chronomaster T Open Power Reserve is a crossroads of traditional Zenith style with Nataf’s flamboyant charisma.
The El Primero became the first high-beat (36,000 VpH) automatic chronograph movement in 1969. Since then, it’s been a darling of watch enthusiasts and watchmakers alike. The Zenith Chronomaster became the flagship of the El Primero series during the 1990s, and this era provides the Chronomaster T‘s 40mm stepped-bezel case.
The style of the case is late 1990s Zenith: restrained and classical. The dial is the same… until the open escapement is considered. Then the fireworks start. Nataf understood that the romance of the mechanical watch was tied to the beating heart of the beast: its escapement. In a high-beat El Primero movement, this fact counts double. Even a naked eye can tell the difference between Zenith‘s legend and a conventional 28,800 VpH workhorse from Rolex or ETA.
The open escapement is a great piece of theater, and the partially skeletonized caliber El Primero caliber 4021 movement was developed to put the famed high-beat device in full view. Spare balance and pallet bridges obscure very little of the mechanism, and the frenetic components are far easier to view through the dial than through the case back.
Without a single word regarding history or engineering, a glance at this movement will win the hearts of casual observers and admirers. The Chronomaster T Open Power Reserve has that kind of appeal.
Additional complication and convenience comes in the form of a power reserve gauge at 6 o’clock. The graceful arc of the indicator tracks the stored energy within the El Primero‘s ample 52-hour power reserve.
The 2000s were a transformational epoch in the history of Zenith Watches. Some products hit, some missed, but an exceptional few joined the ranks of all-time greats. With emulators from Audemars Piguet to Gruebel Foresey, the Zenith open escapements started a fire that burns to this day. Join Thierry Nataf, horology’s original “pyromaniac” with this Zenith Chronomaster T Open Power Reserve, available with full box, papers, and accessories from watchuwant.com