There is something tidy and pragmatic about the Zenith collections, which are so often named after the calibers they contain. In the case of the collection presented here, it is the Elite that provided the name, which also made Zenith into a pure manufactory. Comparisons with the Jaeger-LeCoultre Master collection are not that far-fetched as ideal examples of dress watches of eternal elegance. Remarkable is the multitude of different positions, which take up the small second, power reserve display, date and moon phase on the dial. This gently sets the watch apart from other suit watches and provides a small twist in an otherwise understatement and restraint throughout the overall picture. The open construction of the Elite movement series makes it possible for the second to be displayed variably small at six or nine o’clock or as a central second. The date occurs variably at 6 o’clock or between 1 and 2 o’clock position. Moreover, additional modules for functions such as power reserve indicator, moon phases and other complications can be added. If you are looking for the simplest form of a three-hand watch, you can still choose the movement called Elite 670. Elite-untypically, with no additional functions and a central second, there is no need for an additional dial.
The launch of the Elite plant in 1994 made Zenith a pure manufactory. From then on, only calibres from Zenith’s own production were used in the watches – until today.
As variable as the arrangement of the additional dials of the Elite models may be, in most cases the 9 o’clock position is reserved for the small, decentralized second. This distinguishes the Elite series from most other watches, which display the running second either centrally or at 6 o’clock.
Unlike the El Primero, all Elite calibers are clocked at the standard speed of 28,800 vibrations per hour. This means that the second hand stops at exactly 48 positions for the duration of one blink of an eye, which corresponds to one stop per eighth of a second. For comparison: The second hand of the El Primero creeps across the dial at tenth of a second intervals.
The Ultra Thin model series with the caliber Elite 681 (with a small second at 9 o’clock) and a construction compressed to 3.47 millimeters allows a housing height of only 8.3 millimeters. This makes it the slimmest Elite version, but the other Ultra Thin models are also below the one-centimeter mark.
Also, the automatic movement Elite 6150 is only slightly thicker: with a height of less than 4 millimeters it allows a case height of only 9.45mm. The flat construction is especially impressive because the caliber has a twin mainspring barrel and thus allows for a power reserve of 4 days.