Zenith Elite Port Royal Ref. 01/02.0451.680
“A Watch for enthusiasts”
Zenith Elite Port Royal
By Fabio Dal Colletto
Zenith, one of the most reputable Swiss watchmakers. As we all know Zenith was founded in 1865 which makes them one of the oldest Swiss watchmaking firms, this heritage coupled with Zenith’s commitment to quality and precision are a few reasons why Zenith produced a chronograph movement in the El Primero for which Rolex used in the Daytona prior to Rolex deciding to make their own chronograph movement. There is no debating the pedigree of Zenith, so the question remains, why is Zenith a brand for enthusiasts rather than the masses?
When mentioning Zenith, most people will draw to the mind the famous El Primero and its fabulous tri-coloured subdials, one of the best chronographs of the 20th century, so much so that Rolex used a modified El Primero movement in the Daytona until 2002. But the Zenith which we are looking at today is far different from what you may expect, this is not a chronograph or a flieger, nor does it have a case size larger than 40mm, this is the Zenith Elite Port Royal, a very elegant and slim Art Deco inspired semi-casual dress watch, which is squeezed into a high polished 37mm case. Small Seconds at 9 o’clock and date at 3 o’clock give the black lacquered dial a very symmetrical yet unique look the dial is completed with script style Arabic numbers and pointed baton indices at 12 and 6. Finishing is everything you would expect of a high quality swiss made timepiece but turned to 11, nowhere is that more evident than when gazing through the display caseback to view the Elite 680 Caliber with 25 jewels. The Port Royal is fitted with a brown Crocodile leather strap with a buckle and tang style closure.
I have found over the past week of wearing the Port Royal that it is exceptionally comfortable, perhaps to a greater extent than I would have thought possible, as I have always gravitated to watches above 40mm in case diameter. The Crocodile Leather strap contributes to the level of comfort, it is 20mm at the lugs with a taper to 16mm at the buckle. Strap changes are quick and easy with drilled lug holes, and being 20mm your strap options are virtually limitless, that being said, I think most fitting is a leather strap finished in suede or calf leather in cognac or tan. Being a 37mm t watch the Port Royal makes for an excellent dress watch and if paired with a black leather strap the Port Royal is transformed into a timepiece fitting of your three-piece Brioni Tuxedo.
In the week that I had to spend with the Port Royal I really discovered a segment which for me was unappreciated, the Port Royal does an excellent job blurring the lines of what defines a tool watch or a dress watch, the watch is very comfortable and can be worn with nearly anything yet it looks at home when wearing a more formal attire, the small slender case and attention to detail is what allows the Port
Royal to accomplish this. The finishing is sublime, lines are crisp and defined, polishing is near mirror like, and that black lacquered dial has immense depth.
Perhaps the Port Royal is not the first Zenith you think of when the brand comes to mind but it should be known that while the El Primero is their most known model, Zenith is much more than a one show pony, the level of craftsmanship at Zenith is on par with the big boys at Rolex, Omega and Breitling, but because Zenith is not nearly as well known as the previously mentioned brands you can pick up a Zenith Port Royal for nearly a quarter of what you would expect to pay for a Rolex Datejust or half of what you would expect to pay for an Omega DeVille. Zenith has not made the effort in the past to mass market their product to the same extent as their competition and aside from watch enthusiasts, Zenith is a virtually unknown watchmaker for many people. The fact that the brand has not committed large sums of money into the marketing and advertising kitty allows their customers to purchase watches for substantially less than had they been produced by Rolex. As a watch enthusiast I would prefer my hard-earned money was spent on the development and production of a high-quality timepiece rather than footing the bill for Roger Federer’s Rolex Daytona. Zenith a watch for enthusiasts.