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Zenith - Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane

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While Christopher Columbus (Christoph Colomb in French) discovered a land harbouring infinite possibilities, the Academy Hurricane that Zenith named after him offers the key to handling the three challenges involved in ensuring the optimal precision in a wristwatch: achieving a high oscillating frequency for time sequencing; neutralising the effects of gravity detrimental to its rate; and eliminating variations in isochronism. In other words, the goal is to solve issues relating to the wearing of the watch (gravity) and to the duration of its operation (progressive loss of isochronism – the identical oscillations of the regulating organ – as the watch gradually discharges), while nonetheless achieving remarkably precise time measurement (governed by the speed of the balance movements).
How challenging can be such a goal is well explained by the number of parts composing the manual wind El Primero movement 8805 used for the Academy Hurricane: 939! 585 components for the chain,  354 for the movement of which 173 for the Gravity Control module. This exceptional movement runs at 36,000 vibrations per hour - typical of the El Primero - and it offers a 50-hour power reserve.

Whereas the majority of 16th, 17th and 18th century timepieces were equipped with a fusée to regulate the driving force transmitted to the going train, things are different today. Only a handful of watch manufacturers are capable of transposing this mechanism into the diminutive space available inside a wristwatch. With its Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane, Zenith is now a member of this highly exclusive club.
The gradual discharging of a mechanical watch causes a loss of amplitude and a corresponding loss of precision. On the contrary, with a fusée-chain transmission system, the driving force remains entirely stable throughout the duration of the power reserve. Whereas the spring at its heart imparts its strength to the barrel, the helicoidal shape of the fusée – stemming from a complex calculation performed specifically for the mainspring – compensates for the variations in force of the barrel that will progressively occur. 
The transmission between the barrel and the fusée of the Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane is handled via an 18 cm-long chain composed of 585 parts. This extremely complex component features a construction based on alternating double and intermediate links, while the dimensions of the rivets are the object of sophisticated calculations designed to control their clearance. While handling the chain calls for infinite expertise and care, it is capable of withstanding over three-kilogramme tensile force once it is fitted in place.
Throughout the duration of the power reserve, the barrel transmits its force to the fusée via the chain that is wrapped around the barrel. By adjusting variations in tension, the fusée transmits its constant force to the going train that in turn imparts it to the silicon escape-wheel inside the gyroscopic carriage.
While it takes over 50 hours – the entire duration of power reserve – for the chain to wrap itself entirely around the barrel, the stem-winding process is a fascinating sight. The few seconds it lasts provide a chance to see the fusée and barrel turning the opposite way in relation to the operating direction, so that the chain can once again wrap itself around the fusée and thereby wind its spring.

The Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane also cancels out another phenomenon exercising a detrimental effect on the rate of a mechanical watch: gravity.
Working on the principle that maintaining the regulating organ in a horizontal position results in the best possible balance amplitude and thus generates the best timekeeping precision, Zenith conceived and patented a revolutionary self-regulating gyroscopic mechanism, the Gravity Control system, designed to ensure that the regulating organ and the escapement are permanently kept in this position. This is different from the Tourbillon which just corrects for the various positions by equalling them out along the four vertical axes every minute. 

Gravity Control derives from the marine chronometers historically produced by Zenith the principle of gimbal suspension, a kind of pivoted support first introduced on marine compasses in the 16th century and designed to enable them to turn and maintain their horizontal position, even when they were no longer aligned due to the pitching and rolling of a ship.
The all-of-a-piece sapphire crystal showcases the shining mechanical refinement of the fusée-chain system, revealing the barrel and the fusée around which the chain progressively wraps itself. At 6 o’clock, the gyroscopic carriage, a magnificent 173-part horological system, enchants the admiring gaze with its whirling motion. The roundness of the dome is echoed by the curves of the open worked hour and minute dial at 12 o’clock, while the hand-guilloché small seconds and power-reserve displays are also subtly convex. On the bridge side, the sapphire crystal reveals a globe motif laser-engraved on the counterweight of the gyroscopic module, paying a glowing tribute to the spirit of travel epitomised by Christopher Colombus. 
Issued in a 25-piece limited edition, the Zenith Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane has a 45 mm pink gold case and it is water resistant to 3 ATM. Below, some live photos. Considering the diameter, the watch is surprisingly comfortable on the wrist.

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