Zenith's new case material ceramised aluminium makes its entry into its mainstream collection with two new powerfully designed 'chiaroscuro' (bright and dark, as Zenitih's italian-born PR manager told me) versions of the El Primero 36'000 VPH - I call them the Panda-Twins:
Both watches come with a 42mm case in intense black ceramicised aluminium and a perforated rubbers strap, fastened with a DLC-coated black titanium deployant clasp. The salient feature of these two watches is the intense contrast between the matte black case and the dials, coming in two versions with either silver on black or vice-versa. This dark/light theme has accompanied the El Primero since its presentation in 1969.
Let's start with the former (Reference: 24.2041.400/21.R576):
The punkiest of the two, and the most ostentatious as well. Black, black, and another detail in black!
Alsthough the light on Zenith's boat was not entirely bad, quite good compared to Basel actually, I did not quite manage to capture the true nature of the dial design. Even the black dial base is finely sunray-patterned and of ebony colour, and the light accents are brushed silver.
I do not want to go too much into the discussion of the dial, as this might still change *). But one lovely (and quite minuscule) detail I'd like to highlight: the colour accents of the subdial hands: black inlays for the permanent seconds hand, red ones for the chronograph indications - just like the central seconds counter! A nod to functionality, as one would expect from a chronograph specialist.
Engine is the venerable El Primero Cal. 400B, which is basically the original version.
A couple of wrist shots to show its presence. With the given light it looks a bit too simple, just black and white. But certainly, there is more to it!
The other 'Panda-Twin' (Reference: 24.2041.400/01.R576) follows an entirely opposite colour scheme, with black subdials on a silvery brushed dial.
the overall impression on me is that this one is a bit more 'friendly', approchable if you like, than the white on black sister watch.
One indication might be this wrist shot: the sunray finishing just stands ou bettert and, being silver, lends a tiny bit more depth to the dial and emphasises its structure.
Which one do you prefer?
*) Postscriptum: During my discussions with Jean-Claude Biver in Geneva (and also in personal communications with other Purists ), the new (interim) CEO of Zenith made it clear that the time of overlapping (at least to the extend that functionality is compromised) is over. Thus, the watches I am showing you here might not see the day in Basel, or at least not in this particular design. Thus enjoy it why it lasts ;-)
Mr Biver listens very carefully and is really determined to rise Zenith to a level where it belongs. Great times ahead!