A Moon At Its Zenith

It makes absolutely no sense to have a watch with just a moon phase, and no other calendar complications to go with it. Unless you have a distinct urge to howl when it is a full moon, it is in today’s world probably the most useless complication on a watch that you can get. Fortunately, practical use is also not the goal, as there is something poetic in seeing the moon rise and fall on the dial of your watch and know that many tiny gears ensure that it does so. It is more a complication that makes us contemplate time itself, and how we spend it. It slows us down and makes us think, rather than provide us with even more information in an era where we already get this in an overload.

Zenith understood this when they created the new Elite Moonphase, which is available in stainless steel with an elephant grey day, and in rose gold with a dial that resembles the color of fresh milk. Both are stunning in their own right, in particular, because the dial has a luscious and rather deep sunray guilloche -pattern in it. The phase of the moon is shown in the traditional way, through a window on the dial, but Zenith turned it into a full circle, coloring also the lower part blue. In the creme colored dial, it gets therefor a more prominent position, then with its grey counterpart.

While I usually tend to go for gold, the grey of the stainless steel model, in both the dial and the alligator strap, is just so spot on and gives the Elite an understated elegance. It also makes the transition from formal wear to something more casual with much more ease and flair than its gold sibling. That being said, for those who are more classical inclined, think no longer and just get the rose gold one.

It has got to be hard on the Elite-collection to live in the shade of the famous El Primero. Especially when you have all the same qualities, but only lack a chronograph function, and being the first in anything. Those who know their watches know that any Elite-movement can easily hold its ground. This moonphase model is powered by caliber Elite 692, an automatic movement with a 50-hour power. With a height of 3.97mm is it pleasantly slender and allows Zenith to make the overall height of the watch just 9.35mm. This is important as proportions are everything. With a diameter of 40.5mm is the watch larger then I would normally prefer, but Zenith makes good use of the space that this gives by simply doing very little with it. Instead, they give a prominent role to the deep guilloche pattern in a sunray motif. The tapered hour markers amplify the effect, while a modest seconds hand adds some motion on its minimal subdial at three o’clock. On the wrist, the Zenith Elite Moonphase adds something but doesn’t overpower. Even the rose gold version is rather discrete thanks to the slim bezel and large dial.

Boiling it all down
40.5mm of poetic perfection, and one of the few watches where I actually, although slightly, prefer the stainless steel model over the gold one. The El Primero has the name, but the Elite can equally live up to the fame. Few will probably instantly recognize what you are wearing, but when you read Troisanneaux, you know that I consider that a desirable added value.

1 thought on “A Moon At Its Zenith

  1. Zenith seems to be a brand trying to find its way in the ever changing landscape of horology. I for one hope they do as they have such a rich heritage.

    Thank you for the fine article and exposure to the brand. Funny, I had never thought about the “ usefulness” of a moon phase watch, but I still find it such a nice addition to a timepiece.

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