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Zenith - Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition

In the 1950s Zenith built a reputation as a manufacturer of precision chronometers with the Calibre 135-0, one of the most highly awarded observatory chronometers ever made.

Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition

Developed from 1945 onwards by Ephrem Jobin, the Calibre 135 was produced from 1949 until 1962 in two distinct versions: a commercial variant, and a second iteration made solely for taking part in chronometry competitions at the Observatories of Neuchâtel, Geneva, Kew Teddington, and Besançon. These "0" movements, which were never commercialized nor cased in wrist or pocket watches, underwent exhaustive testing through drastically different temperatures, shocks and running in 6 different positions, consistently delivered optimal chronometric performance with minimal variations in rate. With over 230 chronometry prizes, the Calibre 135-0 holds the most awards of any observatory chronometer calibre in the history of watchmaking.

Seven decades later, Phillips auction house proposed to Zenith the possibility to work with Kari Voutilainen, one of the most respected living independent watchmakers, to restore and decorate 10 original Calibre 135-o movements that actually took part in and won observatory chronometer competitions, and to house them in a totally new watch.

Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition

The result is the Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition produced in a series of 10 pieces and sold exclusively by Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo.

Drawing inspiration from several 1950s references by combining the most emblematic details with contemporary accents, the watch comes in a 38 mm x 10.35 mm platinum round case featuring tapered lugs and an oversized notched crown.

Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition

Beneath the sapphire glass box, the slightly domed black dial in sterling silver by Kari Voutilainen’s Comblémine atelier features guilloché engraving in a fish-scale motif combined to triangular hour markers and applied polished dot markers in rhodium-plated German silver and solid gold hands.

The oversized second counter at 6 o’clock is inscribed with the movement’s serial number, denoting the unique nature of each of these watches. 

Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition

The dial is signed "Neuchâtel" at the bottom, as Zenith, Kari Voutilainen and the historical Observatory where the Calibre 135-O competed and won during the golden years of chronometry competitions are all based in the Canton of Neuchâtel.

For the first time in the history of the Calibre 135, the observatory chronometer movement, in this case meticulously decorated and finished by Kari Voutilainen, is visible through a sapphire display back. 

Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition

Beating at a frequency of 18,000 vibrations per hour (2.5 Hz), this hand wound movement has an autonomy of approximately  40 hours.

Delivered in a a book-shaped leather box contained in a wooden box crafted from walnut wood with brass fasteners, inspired by the containers in which the chronometry competition calibres were transported from the Zenith Manufacture to the Neuchâtel Observatory when competing for a first prize at the time, the Zenith Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition ref. 40.1350.135/21.C1000 is sold exclusively by Phillips at a price of CHF 132,900. zenith-watches.com

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Time and Watches | The watch blog: Zenith - Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition
Zenith - Calibre 135 Observatoire Limited Edition
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