Zenith salute the gallantry of their plucky ambassador Felix Baumgartner with a new and suitably stratospherical watch released in his honour, the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute to Felix Baumgartner watch.
One Sunday in October 2012 anyone with access to a live TV or the internet stopped what they were doing and watched agog while Felix attempted to set a new world record. Noisy households were silenced, meals were interrupted and even the most dysfunctional families found harmony for just a few minutes as they watched, and waited.
The Man Who Fell To Earth
Although every precaution was taken and although every calculation was worked through with precision, Felix still took a risk when he dived – a risk shared by his sponsors, Zenith included, who would have had little to celebrate if the jump had been calamitous. Thankfully, after a few heart-stopping moments at the beginning of his fall, the event ended in triumph leaving Zenith free to honour their hero with some fine Stratos models. However, with their new “Tribute to Felix “ watch Zenith have managed to combine mechanical complexity with creative artistry resulting in a unique take on their acclaimed Academy Christophe Colomb timepiece, which captures the historical event.
The Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb models are distinguishable by their self-regulatory gyroscopic escapement which, just like the mechanism on a marine chronometer is suspended on a gimbal mount, enabling it to remain steadfastly in a horizontal position ensuring the best amplitude for the balance as an aid to accuracy. To accommodate it requires that distinctive domed sapphire front and rear, lending it a rather unusual profile.
Free Fall, Out Into Nothing
This latest Christophe Colomb model recalls Felix’s record-breaking skydive with some imaginative artistic aesthetics – his pensive pause as he seemingly stares into the void filled by the escapement, just before stepping out and before launching himself towards earth; the stunning contrast to be found where space ends and where earth begins and even the breath-stopping moments when Felix seemed to spin out of control – all are captured to great effect on this highly unique dial.
On the dial, aventurine has been used to replicate the stratosphere and a striking turquoise shade represents earth. At the 3 o’clock location the power reserve features a hand-worked model of Felix pausing before launching himself from his capsule, a small running seconds is located at 9 o’clock and on the upper dial the hours and minutes subdial has a subtle reminder of the length of the dive – 4 minutes and 19 seconds – with a white line mark between 12 and 4. Even the compelling constant motion of the gyroscopic escapement reminds us of the perilous spins which Baumgartner was subjected to before his parachute opened up bringing him safely back to earth.
The caseback will also recall the statistics of the jump together with an engraving of Felix Baumgartner, his capsule and earth. Inside the manual wind El Primero 8804 calibre comprises of 308 parts, 171 of which are used to make up the gyroscope cage. The piece features a 45mm platinum case which has been given a luxury-concealing black PVD coating, but which provides a stealthy contrast to the vivid dial appearance.
The outstanding Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Tribute to Felix Baumgartner will be a limited edition of 10 pieces only with a price of $275,000.