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2006 Private Preview: Zenith Grande Class Traveller Répétition Minutes

James D. Malcolmson

“This watch,” asserts Zenith president Thierry Nataf, “shows our quality and capability to the world.” It is a familiar refrain for a Swiss watch company executive, but in the case of the Grande Class Traveller Répétition Minutes, a remarkable timepiece supports the declaration. Unlike traditional grand complications, the Zenith mixes modern features—such as alarm, multi–time zone, and chronograph functions—with ambitious engineering advancements.

The Grande Class Traveller Répétition Minutes is a power-hungry beast. Many of its complications, including the dual-chime minute repeater and the three-level alarm with six different ring tones (including vibrating mode), consume vast amounts of energy. To drive these functions, Zenith increased the amplitude of the movement from its already vigorous 36,000 vibrations per hour to nearly 40,000. The company engineers devised a cascading system of spring barrels wound by a single rotor to store the energy and another system that recaptures some of the vibration energy expended by the alarms.

A delicate touch with the minute repeater mechanism balances the power engineering; Zenith raised the device from its customary place at the bottom of the watch to a top position where it can be viewed through the dial. The company also hired a sound engineer and an orchestra conductor to help achieve optimum sound for this, its first venture into musical watches.

When it arrives next year, the Grande Class Traveller Répétition Minutes will be the most progressive grand complication on the market, which is quite an achievement for Zenith’s first attempt at watchmaking’s peak.

 

Zenith, 800.321.4832, www.zenith-watches.com

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