At the first look, the new Zenith Caliber 135 Observatoire appears to be a stylish dress watch. But, this is not your average Zenith or dress watch; it’s a collaboration watch with Voutilainen, a high end watchmaker that takes a piece of watchmaking history into the present.

Beyond the iconic El Primero, Zenith has a reputation for high-quality mechanical watch movements. Its Caliber 135-O movement from the 1950s has earned more observatory chronometer awards than any other watch movement in history. That doesn’t make it the “most accurate” movement, but collectors hold it in high respect.

The manual wound movements were produced specifically for the trials and never meant to be placed into a watch case. However, after 70 years, these iconic movements have finally found their way into wearable watches.

An idea initiated by Phillips auction house’s Aurel Bacs and Alex Ghotbi, the Manufacture invited renowned independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen to restore and hand-decorated a batch of competition-winning Calibre 135-O movements. The result is a contemporary chronometer produced in a series of 10 pieces.

The Calibre 135 was produced from 1949 to 1962 in two distinct versions: a commercial variant and an “O” iteration made solely for observatory chronometry competitions. Never commercialized, The Calibre 135-O received over 230 chronometry prizes, an absolute record in watchmaking history.

The ten movements in this limited edition belonged to the “serial winning” years from 1950 to 1954 and were regulated by celebrated Zenith chronométriers, Charles Fleck & René Gygax.

This watch comes with a 38mm titanium case. Meanwhile, the dial is Crafted by Kari Voutilainen’s Comblémine atelier, the slightly domed black dial in sterling silver features guilloché engraving in a fish-scale motif.

The timepiece is set with triangular hour markers and applied dot markers with contrasting solid gold hands to add a contemporary touch to vintage elegance. The oversized second counter at 6 o’clock is inscribed with the movement’s serial number, denoting the unique nature of each watch.

Are you interested in this limited edition watch? For more information about our Zenith collection, visit The Time Place boutique.