Yes, guys this is a palace revolution! Everything is turned upside-down. The wheel has been reinvented!
Underneath to warm up the hard facts officially resumed by Zenith:
- A new oscillator forming a monolithic whole, made of monocrystalline silicon (with details finer than a human hair), replaces the sprung balance. The 30 or so components of a standard regulating organ (which requires assembly, adjustment, timing, testing and lubrication) are thus replaced by a single element measuring just 0.5 mm thick (compared with the usual 5 mm.)
- This breathtaking development oscillates at the incredible frequency of 15 Hertz (108.000 A/h), with an amplitude of +/- 6 degrees, and is endowed with an almost 60-hour power reserve – more than 10% more than that of the El Primero – despite a three times higher frequency.
- This frequency endows it with an exceptional – almost 10 times higher – degree of accuracy. Its mean daily rate is precise to within just 0.3 seconds. (By way of example, one of the criteria for COSC “chronometer” certification is the average daily rate on the first ten days of testing: from -4 seconds to +6 seconds, meaning up to 10 seconds per day).
- Moreover, it remains accurate far beyond 24 hours of operation (the moment when mechanical watches begin to lose their energy and thus their accuracy). This new oscillator maintains the same degree of precision for 95% of its power reserve.
- No need for oil: no more contact means no more friction or wear, and thus no need for lubrication.
- Insensitivity to temperature gradients, gravity and magnetic fields eliminates the key weaknesses of the current balance-and-spring assemblies that are subject to deformation and/or dilatation, thereby leading to diminished precision.
- The Zenith Defy Lab is triple certified, including chronometer certification displayed by the viper’s head emblem awarded by Besançon Observatory, on behalf of the International Bureau of Weights and Measures. With regard to thermal behaviour, the spectrum of the ISO-3159 standard has been broadened: variations of around 0.3 seconds per day and per degree Celsius of deviation are certified, which is twice as good as the recommended figure. Finally, the watch meets the ISO-765 magnetic criteria, exceeding them by 18 times (for the completed watch), meaning it can withstand 88,000 Amperes per meter or 1.100 Gauss.
- This mechanism opens up whole new vistas and enters a new dimension, representing no less than a reinvention of the Huygens principle with another mechanical system.
- The first ten Zenith Defy Lab watches are sold in an exceptional collector’s gift box. The only “bad thing” ist that they all are already pre-sold to collectors around the world.
So my first question was: Are we here talking of super exclusive ten pieces of just a “crazy” idea?
The clear answer is: No!
The Zenith Defy Lab is only the very first watch to be equipped with this new LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department oscillator. In the near future Zenith will present other models being equipped with it and later also Hublot and TAG Heuer will present their watches featuring this escapement. In three to five years from now Jean-Claude Biver told me the escapement will be sold also to third parties.
Respect! Who would have thought to see such a development from the LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department?
Nothing similar would have been presented to us without Guy Sémon, he is the driving force!
Guy Sémon joined TAG Heuer in 2008 and his first stroke of genius was to get the Monaco V4 calibre working. Rather than using an usual gear train and wheels with teeth, the V4’s calibre is belt-driven. Its avant-garde design was inspired by an automobile engine.
Since then Guy is behind all the technical developments that were presented by TAG Heuer.
I now invite you to listen to Guy Sémon, who has become the head of and the driving force of the new founded LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department.
Guy and his team developed this new monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon.
The interview is divided in two parts. Both of them are simply thrilling …
In part one you will learn how everything started and how Guy designed the monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon …
Part two of my interview will give an idea what will happen in the future …
This is the new magic watch component, the monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon, Guy is talking about.
With the remarks on the second picture you will better understand how the new oscillator works and what part of it is doing what …
Here you see the the monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon being integrated into the Zenith calibre ZO 342 …
All the rest of the Zenith calibre ZO 342 is a classical mechanical calibre with a barrel drum and a normal gear train. But there is no more Swiss lever escapement, it is replaced by the new monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon designed and developed by the LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department.
The following three videos show you how the new monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon oscillates and how it looks like in the Zenith Defy Lab watch.
Video one is filmed in regular mode…
Zenith Defy Lab Escapement_1 from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
Video two is filmed in slow-motion mode…
Zenith Defy Lab Escapement Slo-Mo_3 from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
Video three shows you the Zenith Defy Lab filmed on a wrist…
Zenith Defy Lab on the wrist from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
Now, if you still have keen interest to better understand what is going on I recommend you to listen to Thomas Mercier.
Thomas is part of the LVMH Watch Division Research & Development Department and it was Guy who told me I should ask Thomas the following:
Thomas, please explain me in simpel and clearly understandable words how the new escapement works.
Are you ready for this?
Thomas Mercier explaining the “simplicity” of the new escapement …
The monolithic regulating organ (the Zenith Oscillator) made out of Silicon oscillates at a frequency of 108,000 A/h or 15 Hertz. No regular testing equipment can measure such a frequency. This is why a laser is used to measure the 108,000 A/h …
The following two ultra slow motion videos do show how the escapement wheel and the “anchor” of the monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon interact.
Zenith Defy Lab Escapement Wheel Slo-Mo_1 from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
Zenith Defy Lab Escapement Wheel Slo-Mo from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
The new Zenith calibre ZO324 is houses in an interesting case developed and manufactured by Hublot for Zenith.
In fact it is the first watch with a case (44 mm in diameter) made from Aeronith, the world’s lightest aluminium composite material. This new material resembling an extremely solid metal foam was developed using an exclusive high-tech process and features a density of just 1.6 kg/dm3, which is 2.7 times lighter than titanium, 1.7 times lighter than aluminium and 10% lighter than carbon fibre.
The production process for this hybrid material involves cutting-edge technologies and begins with heating aluminium to melting point. Known for its use in naval applications, Alu 6082 has been chosen for its excellent corrosion resistance. It is poured into a mould where a procedure internally developed by Hublot transforms it into an open-pore metal foam. These interspaces are then filled with an extremely light special polymer resistant to ultra-violet rays and anti-allergenic when in contact with the skin.
Zenith Defy Lab
ZENITH OSCILLATOR (CALIBRE ZO 342)
Monolithic regulating organ (Zenith Oscillator) made out of silicon
Diameter: 32.80 mm
Movement thickness: 8.13 mm
Frequency: 108,000 A/h (=15 Hertz)
Power-reserve: approx. 60 hours
Finishing: Oscillating weight adorned with “Côtes de Genève” motif
Hours, minutes and central seconds
CASE, DIAL & HANDS
Diameter: 44 mm
Opening diameter: 35.5 mm
Thickness: 14.5 mm
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal
Water-resistance: 50 meter
Hour-markers: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with black varnish Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with black varnish
STRAP & BUCKLE
Rubber with alligator leather coating Titanium double folding clasp
PRICE: 29.900 CHF including 8 % VAT
The Zenith Defy Lab is a limited edition of only ten pieces. The buyers where able to choose one of these executions:
As mentioned above the Zenith Defy Lab only was the launching timepiece for the monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon. The new revolutionary escapement will later be integrated also in a TAG Heuer watch.
To give you an idea how such a watch could look like I invite you to watch these slow-motion videos.
Zenith Defy Lab Escapement Slo-Mo_1 from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
Zenith Defy Lab Escapement Slo-Mo_2 from WatchAdvisor on Vimeo.
Once again to make it clear: the monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon can work with any mechanical wristwatch by replacing its escapement.
The monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon is not supposed to be a gimmick or a crazy add-on of a crazy watch manufactured only in a series of ten pieces.
The monolithic regulating organ made out of silicon is just a first step into the future of the mechanical wristwatch and it will be used by other brands as well.
As a first summary of what I have seen and learned I can only say: Respect! Guy Sémon and his team have shown that there is plenty of space for innovation and improvement. The wheel has been reinvented!