zenith heritage 146 blue dial 221

Zenith Heritage 146: a born classic

Since its very creation in 1969, El Primero has been an icon among chronograph calibers. Today, it still serves Zenith as inspiration when reinterpreting historical models such as the Heritage 146.

By Benjamin Teisseire

The new Zenith range features the same case as the original A386. The 38-mm chronograph fits snugly on the wrist and, while it exudes a strong aura, it isn't ostentatious. It is streamlined and sporty as well as elegant and refined. Its qualities strike you as soon as you strap the watch on. It has character and it assumes as much its sporty side as its undeniable elegance.

Streamlined balance

It only takes one look at the piece to see its harmonious balance. The alternating polished and brushed surfaces on the bezel give the piece a well-crafted finish that is enhanced by the work done on the multi-faceted brushed lugs. The pushers, placed near the fluted crown, highlight the harmonious feel of the piece, not to mention its highly refined dial.

Zenith Heritage 146 blue dial

The three traditional chronograph counters have been replaced by two minute and second counters placed at 3 and 9 o'clock. Their borders are very discreet – the former features a track and the latter a simple cross that evokes the familiar aesthetics of a compass to give the watch a touch of adventure. Both counters seem to levitate above the central hands whose shape reminds us of leaves so as to symbolize the elegance and lightness of the tick of time. The streamlined dial has an ethereal air about it and Its tachometer scale adds a sporty touch to the spectacle and thus reminds us of the chronograph's accuracy. The baton-shaped, polished and rhodium-plated indexes are simple, sober and effective.

Zenith Heritage 146 blue dial

A stunning dial

But it is the chic, deep blue, sunburst dial that makes the timepiece the most refined. It constantly catches light from different angles, thus creating a new animation with every movement. And that is precisely when the absence of indexes at 3 and 9 o'clock is noticed. Make no mistake, though; this was a conscious decision whose purpose was but to enhance the piece’s streamlined look while bringing out the color of the dial. Available both in blue and in tobacco brown, upon further inspection, we notice the slightly domed shape of the case just on the edge of the bezel to obtain further sparkling reflections. The matching blue calfskin strap with "pilot" finishing gives the piece a subtle racy air, which makes for an interesting contrast.

However, I must admit that if I were to give in to my typical penchant to nitpick over everything, I would have preferred even more simplicity.

Zenith Heritage 146 blue dial

The heart: El Primero

The 1960s' original model was driven by the 146D caliber with a balance that oscillated at 18,000 vibrations per hour for a 38-hour power reserve. The Heritage 146 houses the famous self-winding, high-frequency 4069 El Primero caliber with a 5-Hz frequency – that is, 36,000 vibrations per hour – and 50 hours of power reserve. The screwed, anti-reflection coated sapphire glass allows us to admire some of the 254 components of the chronometer-certified chronograph to our heart's content. Water resistant to 100 meters, it also features a column wheel and an oscillating mass decorated with "Côtes de Genève". It is beautiful and lively – simply delightful.

Zenith Heritage 146 caseback

Zenith did not hesitate to call on its legendary caliber to breathe life into the Heritage 146. The piece provides enhanced readability, harmony and refinement. Does this indicate a certain evolution in the Zenith identity? Well,  we will keep you posted on that. In any case, I personally think that the Heritage 146 is a home run. In 2017, Zenith offers a major, iconic, refined and powerful chronograph at the price of CHF 6,900. I say go for it!

Zenith Heritage 146 blue dial

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