We’re back to Switzerland now, via the Americas, courtesy of Zenith, the watch company whose movements Rolex still use. The decision to name this watch after Christopher Columbus addresses one of the key issues that faced this adventurous seafarer and still troubles the contemporary watch industry to this day: how to achieve precision measurements with instruments that are subjected to constant motion that is detrimental to their accuracy.
The concept behind the Zenith Christophe Colomb harks back to a maritime navigation system developed 100 years after Christopher Columbus sailed the seas.
In truth the watch could have been called a Cardan Suspension Watch, but few people have heard of 16th century mathematician Girolamo Cardano who gave his name to a type of universal joint in the shaft of a ship’s compass that enables it to rotate when out of alignment. So Christopher Columbus got the vote because he’s much more romantic.
The Cardan suspension system has now inspired Zenith movement design engineers to compensate for the effects of gravity on the precision of a wristwatch. Because wristwatches move through constantly varying positions it required an entirely different approach.
The hand-wound 45-jewel, 36,000 VpH Academy 8804 manual winding movement has a 50-hour power reserve, it features a unique gyroscopic system ensuring perfect horizontal positioning of the regulating organ.
The 45 mm-diameter case comes in a choice of white, rose or yellow gold and is fitted with cambered glare proof sapphire crystals on both sides, with the Gyroscopic system topped by its own sapphire crystal “dome”. Limited to just 25 numbered pieces, the cost of the Zenith Christophe Colomb is $209,000, enough to have plenty of spare change from a first class voyage around the world.