Launched in 2012, the El Primero Stratos Flyback Americas Limited Edition pays tribute to the long and fruitful relationship between Swiss watch-manufacture Zenith and the South American market.
Between 1971 and 1972, Major John Blashford-Snell, an explorer and Zenith ambassador wearing one of the first El Primero watches, crossed the Darien Gap. This was a major milestone in the histories of both Zenith and South America alike. The expedition started on December 3, 1971 from Anchorage in Alaska and ended at the southernmost tip of Terra del Fuego in South America, reached on June 10, 1972. Mexico, Panama, Medellin, Bogota, Quito, Lima, Santiago, Osorno were all on the route of this unique Pan-American expedition. Some 70 years earlier, at the very beginning of the 20th century, James Favre, nephew of Zenith founder, Georges Favre-Jacot, had already travelled extensively to countries that were little known to watchmakers, including South America.
This was the beginning of a long and fruitful relationship between Zenith and the South American market. The latter was of particular interest due to its immense diversity and potential. Although Zenith mainly focused on Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Cuba, the watchmaker from La Chaux-de-Fonds also established a presence in other countries such as Mexico, Colombia and Peru.
As is vividly illustrated by the advertisements at the time, the railroad pocket watches of the era, used in trains to ensure their safe running, were an important item in the South American market, as were very early wristwatches, which were also a novelty on the other side of the Atlantic.
The use of advertising, systematically implemented as a sales tool byZenith in South American markets, as well as the publication of a Spanish book entitled “El Art de medir el tiempo” in the principle Spanish-speaking markets, clearly emphasizes the importance of this region to the company throughout the 20th century, and underlines the quest for precision for which the brand is famous.
Beautiful Zenith Art Nouveau pocket watches, and hunter watches in particular, are still to be found in Argentina, as well as in Uruguay and Venezuela, where the brand also nurtured an early presence. These brief glimpses of the historical ties Zenith has woven with the region serve to confirm that there are indeed plenty of reasons for celebrating the brand’s long-established presence in South America through a special commemorative edition.
El Primero Stratos Flyback
The cockpit instruments in a fighter plane undergo sudden variations in pressure, intense vibrations and violent accelerations of anywhere from 9 to 11 Gs. The sturdily built Zenith Stratos can stand up to anything. A worthy heir to the Rainbow Flyback model developed for the French Air Force in 1997, it has on board the world’s most accurate automatic chronograph – the legendary El Primero – complemented by a flyback function. Precision and reliability have been the watchwords of the Manufacture Zenith since 1865. This obsession with precision was indeed placed in the service of aviation and transport at a very early stage. Today, this finely crafted timepiece is part of the fascinating world of military and sports aviation, a field firmly focused on performance and on absolute trust in fellow team members.
El Primero Stratos Flyback Americas Limited Edition
The Stratos Flyback Americas Limited Edition comes in two models: a 25-piece version in rose gold and Ti-Alum (a titanium-aluminium alloy); and a 50-piece variation made entirely of Ti-Alum. This high-tech alloy was specially developed for aeronautics and for motor racing and is now finding its way into the world of watchmaking. Its magnetic permeability is 50 times lower than that of various grades of steel. This material is particularly corrosion resistant and displays excellent mechanical properties. Its hardness corresponds to 210 HV on the Vickers scale.
Before being deemed worthy for use in the Stratos, the Ti-Alum was subjected to a battery of tests aimed at verifying corrosion resistance using salt fog and spray, tropical climate tests and artificial perspiration, as well as shock resistance with the cruel pendulum striker – a kind of “trebuchet” or medieval catapult-type contraption featuring a steel weight fixed to one end of a pivoting arm that hits the case at full force.
Needless to say, the avowed aim of these tests is to match the ultra-precise El Primero calibre with the finest technology in terms of high-resistance alloys.
El Primero 405B, Automatic
Calibre: 13 1/4 “` (Diameter: 30 mm)
Thickness: 6.60 mm
Frequency: 36,000 V/h – (5 Hz)
Power reserve: over 50 hours
Regulator assembly with fine adjustment
Central rotor with ball bearings
Automatic winding in both directions
Rapid date reset
Column wheel governing chronograph function
• Rhodiumed mainplate
• Circular-graining and chamfering on the bridges
• Straight-graining on the hammers and levers
Metal oscillating weight with guilloché “Côtes de Genève” motif and Zenith star revealed through openworking
Central hours and minutes
Small seconds at 9 o’clock
Chronograph in the centre
30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
12-hour counter at 6 o’clock
Date indicator at 6 o’clock
Material: Ti-Alum alloy and rose gold (ref. 86.2061.405/57.R514) / Ti-Alum alloy (ref. 24.2066.405/57.R514)
Diameter: 45.5 mm
Glass: Sapphire crystal with antireflection treatment on both sides
Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal. Engraved with “Limited xx/25 Edition” for the Ti-Alum alloy and rose gold version (ref. 86.2061.405/57.R514) / engraved with “Limited xx/50 Edition” for the Ti-Alum alloy version (ref. 24.2066.405/57.R514)
Water-resistance:10 ATM / 100 meters
Hour-markers: Rhodium plated, faceted and enhanced with Super Luminova SLN C1
Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted and enhanced with Super Luminova SLN C1
Straps & Buckle
Blue rubber strap (Ref: 27.00.2060.514)
Black buckle(Ref: 27.24.0138.940)