Zenith is actually a strange name for the watch brand, since the word refers to the highest points in the heavens by a celestial body. Although the brand will be celebrating its 150th anniversary next year, it still doesn’t have seemed to reached its Zenith. For all this time the brand has been a respected name within the watch industry, known for its fine manufacture movements which includes of course the legendary El Primero. Although somewhat criticized, former CEO Thierry Nataf did succeed in not only introducing a bolder design for Zenith’s watches and also expanding its range of (highly) complicated movements. The flair that Nataf gave the brand might have been a bit over the top for some and it was Jean-Frédéric Dufour who cleverly toned down the designs, but kept the complicated movements. The result was that Zenith regain its historic balance between design and movement. Jean-Frédéric Dufour was rewarded with one of the most desired positions in the watch industry; CEO of Rolex, while Zenith regained the favor of the watch community.

ZEN_STAR_33mm-DUO-amb+haloNamed after a celestial body, the Star is an great example how Zenith merges design with its movements these days. This collection recently got  three new models added. With it’s 33mm cushion-shaped case, the watch itself is quite refreshing in today’s watch world, since round still seems to be the shape preferred by most watch brands. Ironically it is the cushion that is one of the oldest shapes used for wrist watches, and it combines the bold looks of a square with the soft lines of a circle. At 33mm this results in a very feminine watch, without feeling overly fragile. At the same time did Zenith succeeded in making the Star look contemporary, yet with a vintage charm.

45_1971_681_80_C717That vintage charm also has a lot to do with Zenith’s choice of crown; onion-shaped with the top set with a very shallow sapphire cabochon. The cushion-case is especially nice to set with diamonds and that is exactly what Zenith did. All the three new versions of the Star have some degree of diamonds set on their case and dial. Since the shape of the watch comes with many different sides, there is a challenging yet rewarding playing field for Zenith’s designers and diamond setters. Of course the pave-set version of the Star is absolutely stunning and a pinnacle of the art of diamond setting, yet it is the white gold Star with partial diamond setting that takes in my personal opinion the crown. By showing some bare metal, there is more contrast and allows the watch to show some old world flair. Especially the setting on the corners of the watch are playful and stylish in a way that can only be accomplished with a cushion-shaped case.

18_1971_681_80_C732Just like the white gold version, the rose gold version features a Mother-of-Pearl dial with diamonds marking the hours, and all versions come with a satin strap. What is also important is of course is what ticks inside the Star. That is Elite caliber 681, a very nice manufacture movement with automatic winding and a power reserve of 50 hours. With the El Primero and all the other complicated pieces does one sometimes forget that also when it comes with time-only movements Zenith is still a force to be reckoned with.

45_1970_681_38_C717Although the white gold Star with partial setting is my personal favorite favorite from the new additions to the Zenith collection, I do want to point out the exceptional setting on the pave-set version. The dial is surrounded by a ring of brilliant cut diamonds, to high-light an exceptional setting! Brilliant cut diamonds of different sizes are placed at irregular distance from each other, with decorations running between them, while larger diamonds are placed slightly higher above the dial, indicating the hours. The result resembles the surface of the moon, and that is of course a more than fitting tribute to Zenith as well as the Star collection!

Martin Green
Eclectic taste in Haute Horlogerie, passion for diamond set watches, loves the classics

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