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Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback

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  • Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback

    Zenith El Primero Stratos Fly Back Tribute to Felix Baumgartner

    Who developed and commercially produced the first automatic chronograph movement is a matter of some debate. The generally accepted contenders are:

    -Zenith, with the column wheel 36,000 bph El Primero
    -Heuer/Breitling/Hamilton-Buren/Dubois-Depraz with the modular caliber 11, which combined the Hamilton-Buren micro-rotor movement with a Dubois-Depraz timing module
    -Seiko, with the 6139A column wheel movement which featured the first use of a vertical clutch mechanism.

    Typically the debate is inconclusive (as in much of watch history) with arguments around when the different movements were first produced, which went on sale when and even which were a true chronograph movement and not an "add on".

    What cannot be debated is the place of this Zenith revolutionary movement in watch history and it's design longevity and production dating back to 1969.
    This movement is based on the original El Primero movement from 45+ years ago.

    What is remarkable about it is the high beat frequency of 36000 bph making the watch extremely accurate. My watch is running at +5 seconds over a week. Along with a 50 hour power reserve (remarkable in a high beat movement) and the fly back function this is a movement with undeniable horological credentials and is one of the oldest movements still in full production.
    There is excellent information about this movement on the net. Google: "Zenith Chronograph Walt Odets" and look for the 2 very detailed Timezone articles for further reading.

    General Impressions
    This particular model is a tribute to Felix Baumgartner who was the first to set the record for jumping out of a balloon and descending to earth from the stratosphere. He of course wore this particular model during the descent. Despite these obvious "tool watch" credentials I suspect a watch with a complicated chronograph movement is unlikely to stand a lot of shock abuse so probably not a watch for hard core beater work.

    This watch has an imposing wrist presence with plenty of detail and a finish quality which reflects the price position in the Swiss watch scale. At 45.5 mm it is a large watch but the short lugs means it sits very comfortably on my average sized wrist.
    The silver dial with contrasting grey, black and blue subdials is a stunner.

    Hands are steel Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1 with a split black centre stripe. They are easy to read. The sweep chronograph hand is red with a Zenith star counter balance. The second hand sweep reflects the high beat movement. Smooth. Note that the movement has no hacking feature.
    The rehaut incorporates a subtle Telemetric scale on a polished steel background.
    The applied hour markers with white Luminova are also Rhodium-plated, faceted and perfectly aligned. The framed date aperture sits at 6 o'clock. The crown is large, easy to use and in proportion to the watch. It features the Zenith star and is somewhat protected by the rectangular pushers each side. The winding mechanism is butter smooth.
    This watch has the Zenith branded rubber strap. Very soft and wearable. The stainless butterfly deployment clasp secures with pushers either side of the buckle.
    Of particular note is the very high quality box supplied with the watch.

    What is a "Fly back" function?
    Standard chronographs have the following settings:
    Start the chronograph: button 1 usually at the 2 o'clock position
    Stop: button 1
    Reset: button 2 usually at the 4 o'clock position
    The chronograph must be stopped and reset before it can be restarted.
    With a Fly Back complication when the chronograph is running button 2 can be pressed and the chronograph resets and restarts with a single push allowing "on the fly" instant reset.

    Case width: 45.5mm
    Height: 15mm
    Lug width: 23mm
    Size, including lugs: 53mm
    Water resistance: 10 atm/100 meters/330 feet
    Pushers: Rectangular.
    Crown: Zenith marked screw down.
    Crystal: Domed sapphire with double anti reflective coating
    Bezel: Black aluminium, unidirectional 60 clicks
    Case back: Engraved screw down.
    Strap: Zenith rubber with polished stainless steel butterfly deployment clasp.
    Movement: El Primero caliber 405 fly back chronograph movement.
    Power reserve: 50 hours

    Having wanted to own this watch for some time I was finally able to handle one when overseas. My initial qualms about the size were quickly alleviated and I have been wearing this regularly since purchase.
    Attached Files
    Last edited by Stevo_iwc; 10-01-18, 20:56.
    “I want to touch base on how we’ll synergize the pivot going forward”

  • #2
    Amazing watch and a great view...

    Seems perfect in pretty much every respect - except the lack of alignment between its price and my budget...

    Thanks Steve - what beautiful timepiece


    • #3
      Yippee, TK is back and I'm met with a stonking watch with stonking credentials I bet Felix was jarred off when Dr Alan Eustace beat his record though Thanks Steve for a great review :thumbup:
      Preparation and planning prevent piss poor performance


      • #4
        Awesome, detailed review of a great watch! I almost purchased a Zenith elite recently, but went with Nomos instead as I thought it was a better value and more versatile.
        How do you feel the build quality on your Zenith compares to your GS GMT? Equal or is there a clear winner?
        5 secs a week, I would be very happy with that.


        • #5
          I bet Felix was jarred off when Dr Alan Eustace beat his record though
          Yep he probably was but I reckon it's a bit of the Hilary / Armstrong effect- no one gives a sh*t about those who do it after the first crazy man
          “I want to touch base on how we’ll synergize the pivot going forward”


          • #6

            How do you feel the build quality on your Zenith compares to your GS GMT? Equal or is there a clear winner?

            Case work pretty similar but I reckon where GS has it over most of them is the dial finish. What's good about the Zenith is there is a lot of detail but the alignments are absolutely spot on.
            “I want to touch base on how we’ll synergize the pivot going forward”