Zenith is one of the oldest and most well respected watch manufacturers to still be making watches today. Their most successful line of watches would have to be the El Primero line. Zenith started making the El Primero in 1969. When it debuted it was the most accurate automatic chronograph in history, and still is to this day.
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With its famous 36,000 VpH (vibrations per hour), the El Primero is able to measure tenths of a second. This means that the second hand will tick ten times in one second, which allows the movement to be more durable against outside vibrations or impacts. That is one of the reasons Felix Baumgartner used one when recording highest freefall in human history.
But this isn’t a history lesson on Zenith or its El Primero line. I’m here to talk about the Limited Edition El Primero Lightweight.
The El Primero Lightweight has its case made from aluminum with outer layers of ceramic and carbon-fiber, with a titanium crown and pushpieces and skeletonized lugs. The case looks fantastic and has a real automotive look to it, with that exposed carbon-fiber looking finish.
The watch reminds me of the exposed carbon-fiber aero pieces on modern high-performance cars. The Movement is the typical 36,000 VpH, automatic chronograph movement, made in-house by Zenith, except it’s made almost entirely out of lightweight titanium (only balance spring and some wheels and levers are not, they are mostly made from silicone). It has 31 Jewels and a 50 hour power reserve, which is impressive given the rate of speed in which the El Primero vibrates.
All of these lightweight materials make it weigh in at 40g. That’s incredibly light and that’s welcoming as the watch is actually quite large at 45mm in diameter. But it looks exceptional on the wrist and has a very sporty feel to it, especially with the Nomex-coated, rubber strap. It does pay to look and be that exceptional, however. The price tag for the Lightweight is $22,000, which is as much as a pre-owned E90 328i. If you can afford it, however, it’s well worth the price tag, as there isn’t anything that looks like it with the same pedigree and reputation as the El Primero.
The El Primero Lightweight is a wonderful watch and would pair perfectly with a BMW M car, as both are made with extensive use of lightweight materials and they both show it. It’s a watch I dream of owning just as much as I dream of owning a BMW M6 Gran Coupe. So while the price is a bit unrealistic, one can dream, and marvel at its impressive technicality.