Zenith El Primero Class Traveller Multicity Alarm Chronograph: VIDEO REVIEW

Ah yes, the Zenith El Primero Class Traveller Multicity Alarm Chronograph.

The Thierry Nataf years were heady times at Zenith. Big watches, big prices, and serious complications were the order of the day. Nataf took a dusty backwater of movement supplier, and he transformed it into the bleeding edge of avant grade horology.

This Zenith Class Traveller Multicity Alarm Chronograph is the embodiment of everything Thierry Nataf valued. The 46mm rose gold chronograph declares itself with pride. The bashful and introverted need not apply. Nataf took a company that pinched pennies with hollow gold lugs and pin buckles and changed the MO to include solid gold and full precious metal deployant clasps.

Money was spent to bring the watches themselves up to par with the famed Zenith “El Primero” chronograph movement inside.

The Zenith Multicity also represents a case study in complication. Its automatic-winding high-beat (36,000 VpH) chronograph is only the beginning. A world time chapter ring automatically displays the time in all 24 time zones – simultaneously.

For world travelers on the go, Zenith adds an alarm function that puts the “chirping cricket” rattle of many competing brands to shame. The ring is bright, loud, and the mechanism runs for almost half a minute before exhausting itself. Even better, a dynamic power reserve and on/off display reveal the state of wind and arming status when the alarm is not operating.

Under Nataf, Zenith added refinement in equal measure with complexity. His signature “open” escapement design parts the dial to reveal the beating heart of the Zenith El Primero. Partially skeletonized bridges improve the spectacle. Truth be told, it’s 90 percent of the appeal of a tourbillon at a fraction of the cost; it’s a feature that has been copied shamelessly by everyone from Audemars Piguet to Jaeger-LeCoultre.

A guillocjhe dial features intricate clous-de-paris and inset rose gold bezels around key features. The aesthetic is pointedly upscale.

Inside the case, Zenith’s famed El Primero, here doing business as the Caliber 4046, retains the accuracy, durability, and distinctive voice for which it is renowned. Against the ear, the 5hz Zenith El Primero fires away with a double-time cadence that warms the hearts of true high horology devotees. It sounds as distinctive today as it did upon debut in 1969

Thierry Nataf was a revolutionary in an establishment industry, but his legacy of complicated watchmaking has continued to power the success of the current Zenith line, and many of his exuberant designs already are beginning to foster a cult following among progressive collectors. This Zenith Class Traveller Multicity Alarm Chronograph is a monument to blue-sky imagination and watchmaking craft of the highest order.

See it in high-resolution imagery on www.watchuwant.com will full Zenith factory boxes, technical manuals, documents of provenance, and accessories.