- The Zenith El Primero Class Traveler Multicity Alarm combines style with substance.
- More complications than a case of Rolex: Alarm; Chronograph, World Time, Grand Date, Power Reserve
- Massive sculpted 46mm 18-karat rose gold case combines with open escapement dial for real presence.
- Available with a full Zenith factory set from watchuwant.com for $26,995.
- This represents more than a 42% discount from MSRP of $46,900.
Swiss Army Knife. That’s what comes to mind when face-to-dial with the Zenith El Primero Class Traveler Multicity Alarm.
True, it’s bold, it’s nearly a half-pound of 18-k rose gold, and it’s an El Primero. But while that roster of virtues would place a luxury chronograph among the elite of high horology, it’s only the beginning of the story with the Multicity Alarm.
When dealing with a watch that’s loaded like an S-Class, it’s best to start from the outside and work inward.
Zenith‘s designers enclosed the Multicity‘s dial within its signature complication; the 24-city world time reference ring. Each of the globe’s 24 primary time zones is represented by the name of a significant reference city; the 24-hour ring inboard of the cities rotates counterclockwise and maintains a simultaneous display of the hour in each of the world’s 24 time zones.
Because Zenith Multicity emerged from the larger-than-life Thierry Nataf era of Zenith design, this world time ring dodges the usual pitfall of world time watches; most of them look like clones of the original 1931 system designed by Louis Cottier for Patek Philippe. Not the Zenith Multicity. Its periphery combines the dynamism of a swirling vortex with the legibility lacking in many watches of this type.
The Multicity Alarm‘s two-tone reference ring employs shading, graceful forms, and clear demarcations between cities to enable quick reads at a glance.
Moving inward across the hand-cut guilloche dial, the eye encounters the signature feature of post-Y2K Zenith design, the open escapement. Originally launched in 2003, the “open” dial cuts to the heart of a luxury watch’s modern appeal; the movement. With the open escapement, Zenith accomplished on the dial what others attempted with sapphire casebacks.
Zenith‘s open escapement was a revolution when it bowed in the early 2000s, and the idea has been copied with abandon by a world of emulators from Audemars Piguet to Jaeger-LeCoultre to SevenFriday.
The design brings the life force of the watch to the fore without leaving the wrist. Think of it as 90 percent of the intrinsic appeal of a tourbillon at a fraction of the price.
Bold designs like the Zenith El Primero Multicity have been known to alarm traditionalists, but Zenith turned the tables and “alarmed” its bold design. The unique alarm system developed for the El Primero caliber 4046 incorporates an on/off indicator for discretion, a power reserve to declare its readiness, and a ring so bright and lyrical that it verges on melody.
Zenith‘s alarm keeps no secrets; in addition to the mellifluous voice, the alarm function packs an on/off indicator to prevent unanticipated Sunday reveilles and a power reserve to indicate whether the alarm is ready to ring when needed. True to company heritage the Zenith El Primero Multicity offers a unique take on the classic power reserve gauge.
While others rely on a slow-moving needle or offer no reserve de march for alarm functions, Zenith‘s circular graphic spins while the alarm is active and changes color as the reserve dissipates.
The entire assembly rotates on a dedicated ruby pivot jewel that protrudes through the dial: impressive is the word.
A classical haute horlogerie grand date occupies pride of place at the top of the dial. Its double-digit register features a complex three-wheel sequencing mechanism that surpasses any practical requirement for displaying the date, and that’s precisely the point; luxury is a matter of receiving more than expected and more than necessary.
As the eye approaches the center of the dial, Zenith‘s attention to craft excellence is obvious. Kiln-fired blue screws, eggshell-colored hand-cut “clous-de-Paris” guilloche, and applied gold details of all descriptions enrich the spectacle. This watch is a rich feast for the eyes. Its craft excellence is unabashedly baroque, but its majesty is undeniable.
Now rotate the watch and behold the main event: Zenith’s El Primero caliber 4046.
Inside the sinuous 46 mm rose gold case, the legend of the El Primero lives – and grows – with every stripe of the côtes de Genève bridge finish and the interlocking metallic “pearls” of the base plate.
Linear and circular dressage (directional metallic grain) establishes the degree of hand labor lavished on Zenith El Primero movements of this level. In its day, the Zenith El Primero Class Traveler Multicity Alarm represented one of the flagship models of the manufacture, and each was finished accordingly.
With a 36,000 VpH heartbeat, the classic double-time cadence of the Zenith El Primero makes its voice heard. From the dial, the supernaturally smooth sweep of the chronograph seconds hand is a hint at the legend within. Now hold it against the ear; it speaks in a different voice than a conventional 28,800 VpH Rolex or Omega.
The manic El Primero is a Ferrari V-12 to their Corvette V8s.
Since its 1969 debut and miraculous 1975 escape from the scraper’s torch (a sentimental watchmaker hid the caliber’s tooling), the El Primeo has proved to be a survivor, dead reliable, accurate, and charismatic beyond words. Perhaps uniquely in the world of horology, the El Primero is a movement – not a watch – that inspires outright love from a global legion of devotees.
This Zenith El Primero Class Traveler Multicity Alarm is available from watchuwant.com in like-new condition. Gold doesn’t lie, and all creases, edges, corners, and character lines of this rich rose gold case present as factory. And it comes with all factory accessories. Every box, manual, document of provenance, and Zenith accessory that would be received at an authorized dealer is present and correct.
The Zenith El Primero Class Traveler Multicity Alarm wants for nothing. Every craft detail, watchmaking complication, and factory accessory one could desire is included with this outstanding world time alarm chronograph. All it needs is a wrist; will it be yours?