New models Wednesday, October 10th 2012
Listening to the gentle notes of the music of time chiming on the wrist offers the unique experience of playing one of the finest musical scores of the watchmaking art. Once the corresponding lever is duly wound, the minute repeater complication sounds the hours, quarter-hours and minutes. A first hammer strikes the hours (from 1 to 12) on a low-pitched gong, the quarters (1 to 3) are chimed by two hammers striking two gongs – one low-pitched and the other high-pitched – , while the minutes (1 to 14) are rung by the hammer striking the high-pitched gong.
Academy Répétition Minutes © Zenith
A totally original repeater system
Not only does the Academy Minute Repeater feature one of the most difficult major complications to produce, but it only dictates its own identity codes with an entirely original repeater system: a patented mechanism built around a single rack governing three types of chime. The challenge is complex indeed, since it involves ensuring the smooth co-habitation of a minute repeater and an automatic chronograph within a movement beating at the exceptional frequency of 5 Hz /36,000 vibrations/hour) and endowed with a 50-hour power reserve. This single-rack system serves to circumvent the axis of the 30-minute counter, and thus preserve the distinctive spirit of the El Primero chronographs.
At the heart of the Academy Minute Repeater beats the integrated El Primero 4043 movement totalling no less than 461 components housed within a case just 18.36 mm thick. Unique components that are patiently built, refined and adjusted to fit together perfectly. Components that carry the “signature” of the watchmaker who created them, since the master-watchmakers in the Zenith Fine Watchmaking division have raised their art to a level where they are capable of recognising “their very own” part.
264 parts protected by the dial are devoted to the minute repeater function, while the activation appears on the back, as does the chronograph mechanism function. The “all or nothing” system is applied, requiring complete winding in order to trigger the minute repeater and thus avoid any inadvertent mishandling.
Cathedral gongs for a crystal-clear chime
Drawn out and curved to form a whole rather than being welded, the cathedral gongs are the epitome of noble craftsmanship designed to guarantee crystal-clear acoustics. Through the duration of the chime, the intensity is maintained at a constant level thanks to an inertia governor in the form of an active brake. In order to avoid any loss of synchronisation during the travel of the three cams activating the hammers, a “surprise” device ensures their simultaneous transition at the end of the 59th minute, thus ensuring the perfect coordination of the hour chime.
Awakening visual and auditory pleasure
When the striking mechanism is in action, hearing is not the only sense that is pleasured. The openworked also offers a view of the splendid mechanical play of parts that springs to life, revealing the hammers in motion as well as part of the gongs. Nor is the aesthetic elegance confined to the magical moments of the chime itself, since no detail has been left to chance, including an alternating guilloché “barleycorn” pattern on an elegant silver-toned dial, snailed counters, perfect visual harmony between the blued sweep seconds and counter hands; as well as rose gold hour and minute hands beautifully echoing the Roman numerals fashioned from the same metal. On the bridge side, the sapphire crystal case-back reveals the full wealth of the exceptional mechanical movement.
Available in a generous 45 mm-diameter case in 18K rose gold, the Academy Minute Repeater is issued in a 25-piece strictly limited édition. ■
Academy Minute Repeater
• New El Primero chronograph minute repeater
• El Primero 4043 Calibre; 461 components, 46 jewels
• Hand-guilloché dial
El Primero 4043, automatic
Calibre : 16¼``` (Diameter: 37 mm)
Thickness: 10.36 mm
Frequency: 36,000 VpH – (5 Hz)
Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
Finishings: 22-carat gold oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” pattern
Hours and minutes in the centre
Small seconds hand at 9 o’clock
30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
Case, Dial & Hands
Material: 18-carat rose gold
Diameter: 45 mm
Thickness: 16.55 mm
Crystal & Case-back: Box-shaped sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment on both sides
Water-resistance: 3 ATM
Dial: Silver-toned guilloché
Hour-markers: Gold Roman numerals
Hands: Gold-plated rhodiumed
Strap & Buckle
Alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining
Brown alligator leather
18-carat gold triple folding clasp