Los Angeles, October 2010.
The Poles! Nowhere else in the world has such extreme conditions. These are hostile lands, beyond any human scale. Temperatures drop to -45°C in the North and to -65°C in the South, with an absolute record of -82°C. This year, Jean-Louis Étienne was the first man to fly solo in a balloon across this desert of ice and over the mythical North Pole. The special ZENITH El Primero Jean-Louis Etienne series was christened at a sneak preview event in Los Angeles organized on an “Ice” theme. The Wall Street Journal, a passionate follower of the adventure, sponsored the event.
Design of the Zenith el primero Jean-louis Étienne
For each of his expeditions, Jean-Louis Étienne participated in the meticulous preparation of the equipment that was required to bring him back alive from his extreme exploits. He is thus familiar with instrument design. “We have channeled as much beauty and tension as I encountered when flying over the glacial Arctic Ocean in this watch”, he stated at the presentation.
The north pole:
the most unforgiving of testing grounds for the manufacture Zenith
For the Swiss Manufacture ZENITH, this extreme environment is the best testing laboratory for its equipment. It tests the resistance and reliability of its timepieces in the worst possible conditions. If the instruments return unharmed from their expedition to the Poles, they can accompany wearers into any terrain.
Zenith el primero Jean-louis Étienne
The El Primero Striking 10TH movement is the only series-produced mechanical caliber that very accurately measures and displays up to 1/10th of a second. Unequaled to date, the legendary El Primero was the first movement in the world to beat at 10 vibrations per second. Today, it is the most sophisticated mechanical motor in the world and displays the greatest precision. This model makes every 10th of a second visible, i.e. each of this exceptional motor’s vibrations.
The movement equipping the El Primero Jean-Louis Etienne version created in collaboration with the explorer Jean-Louis Étienne underwent the most demanding reliability test: crossing the Arctic Ocean.
Design inspired by a polar adventure
Two colors dominate: ruthenium and black. The first symbolizes what the Inuit call white nights, a certain period of the year when the sun never sets. The other shade, deep black, incarnates the polar night, when the sun never appears in the sky. The curved crystal attracts additional light onto the hands, the three counters and the dial, thus ensuring that this particularly bright watch can be consulted even in very dim ambient light. The direct-drive seconds hand has a star on its tip, symbolizing Zenith who guides all explorers: it is the “Alpha Ursae Minoris”, better known as the North Star.