When we saw the Zenith Port Royal Concept last March whilst walking through the aisles of Baselworld 2005, we were immediately impressed with Zenith’s high-tech vision of the future of watch making. We were able to obtain a rare pre-series example of this concept watch, soon to go on sale, and we can now share our impressions exclusively with you. A new occasion for you to discover an-out-of-the -ordinary watch, a particularly successful piece, which as well as being very innovative, also contributes to giving this star brand a new look .
Zenith Port Royal Concept
“I designed the Port Royal in New York. I had in mind a steel bridge, and sketched its curved profile. Then I looked at the jungle of buildings and imagined its chequered dial, like the facade of a building. And finally I listened to the city vibrating and wanted to give it a soul,”Thierry Nataf, President and Artistic Director of the Zenith Manufacture.
Savoir-faire and technology
Zenith Port Royal Concept, engine and bodywork
Beneath the bonnet of this Formula 1 piece of master watch making is the first harmonic disk caliber capable of absorbing the shock of high-speed engine vibration. Thanks to the loophole in the dial, you can see the mechanics of the bridges and the escapement wheels in action on the fastest chronograph in the world: The fabulous Zenith El Primero 36,000 alternations.
How will the future look? Space, transparency and the immaterial, associated with the notion of absolute resistance, according to Thierry Nataf. This is why the Port Royal Concept has a case in titanium, a dark grey hand-made metal alloy, whose molecular structure affords unique physical resistance. As strong as steel but 45% lighter, it is highly hypoallergenic and biocompatible. Its name derives from Titan, the son of the earth and the sky in Greek mythology. The dial, the TR90, a translucent material developed for aerospace technology, creates a background field, and in trompe-l’œil, the figures of the indices appear to levitate. With the visible cobalt blue screws, bolts and other adjustment buttons, all watch adjustments can be carried out from the exterior.
The bracelet is moulded in Kevlar and carbon, resistant to a traction force of over 250 kilos.
On the wrist
Surprisingly virile, the Zenith Port Royal Concept is attractive because of the harmony of its volume, and also the materials used. Its large rectangular case fits the wrist perfectly and the sensation of titanium on skin is exactly the sort of image a high-tech watch should evoke in us all. Light for its size, thanks to the titanium, the dark grey case helps to highlight the extraordinary work Zenith engineers put into the dial of this completely new piece.
It is difficult to express all the sensations that the Zenith Port Royal Concept summons up for its owner in just a few lines. It is easiest to say that no other watch developed by such an institution of a brand will give you so much. What other major brand these days would take such risks to set itself apart and stay ahead of the competition?
• Case: Titanium grade 2, dimensions: 36 mm x 51 mm. • Movement : Mechanical with automatic rewinding, caliber El Primero 4021 C. • Functions : Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, power reserve. • Power reserve: 50 hours. • Crystal: Sapphire. • Case-back: Sapphire. • Water resistance: 50 meters • Bracelet: Ultra-resistant Carbon Kevlar, unfolding titanium clasp.
• Retail price tax included: 15,000 euros
Opinion of La Cote des Montres
If you find this object completely irresistible, run to your nearest watch dealer and try to reserve one now. If you don’t, the only advice we can give you is to go anyway and come to your own conclusion about what is set to become the watch of the future. As for the subject of our opinions, we’ve already reached ours - we love it!
Hats off to Zenith for the audacity of the design, and bravo for pulling off such a fabulous architectural feat!
Strong points • Originality, personality, character • Ultra high-tech • Loophole design (open dial) • El Primero Mechanics • Finish
Weak points • Originality, non-conformism
Our rating: *****
We would like to thank the teams from Zentih France for their invaluable assistance, which has enabled us to share our passion with you.
Thierry Castagna / La Cote des Montres™ Photos Luc Virginius