By Meor Amri Meor Ayob

If you ever want to call a watch ‘smart’ looking (in the traditional sense, not the digital age version of ‘smart’), the Zenith El Primero series is one of them. Nowadays, when it comes to watch history, a lot of people forget that the sophistication and quality of Zenith’s in-house chronograph movements are so advanced that even Rolex uses them before they are able to make their own.

The latest evolution of the El Primero since it was first launch back in 1969 is the Stratos Flyback Rainbow. This watch is a revision of the Rainbow Flyback model of 1997. Designed based on a French Ministry of Defense requirements for a special watch for fighter pilots capable of withstanding violent acceleration up to 9Gs to 11Gs, variations in pressure and temperature, as well as vibrations and magnetic fields.

The watch is relatively large. Made out of stainless steel, the diameter of the watch measures 45.0 mm (excluding the crown and pushers) with 14.1 mm thickness. Capped with a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflection treatment on both sides, it is surrounded by a unidirectional bezel made out of aluminum. The bottom of the watch is covered by sapphire case-back that allows one to view the intricate movement.

Like most pilot watches, the main markers use Arabic numerals. The sub-dials are arranged in an East, West and South orientation. The minutes counter situated at 3 o’clock is the most colourful of all three sub-dials enabling night-time viewing. The second sub-dial which depicts the hours is displayed at 6 o’clock and the third sub-dial which depicts the seconds is located at the 9 o’clock position. All markers as well as the hands are covered with white superluminova paint. Only the chronograph sweep seconds hand stands out in red with a small arrow shape at the end covered with white superluminova paint.

On the chapter ring is where you would find the telemetric scale. Meanwhile, this watch has been water rated to 10 atmospheres. Standard with this watch is a standard stainless steel bracelet with triple folding security clasp.

This watch is powered by the El Primero Calibre 405 B automatic movement. Operating at 36,000 vibrations per hour, it has the following complications: (a) a date display; (b) a telemetric scale; and (c) a flyback function. The precision of the movement is such that it is able to measure at 1/10th second increments.

The El Primero Calibre 405 B is made out of 331 components with 31 jewels. Power reserve has been estimated to be in excess of 50 hours.

Not a lot of people can appreciate the size of the watch. For me, this watch fits in nicely with my style. It has the mass and the wrist presence to intimidate any sports or professional diving watches currently in the market. A real ‘bruiser’ looking piece. I definitely am looking at this model very closely. For more info, please visit zenith-watches.com

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Meor Amri Meor Ayob – Contributing Editor

Meor Amri is a passionate watch collector from Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. Having bitten by the horology bug in 2010, he has written extensively about the watch scene and has assembled a large collection of watches (excessively!!) on his own free time. Read his articles here.

His blogs on the same subject are: Eastern Watch Western Watch

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