JULIEN TORNARE, CEO AT ZENITH
15th February 2021
ROX Magazine spoke with Zenith’s Julien Tornare to find out more about what makes the new Chronomaster Sport tick and the future of the brand.
As the dust settles on a year like no other and we venture into 2021, there’s a real longing for change.
Adjusting to the ‘new normal’ has been a challenge but just as it’s important to take lessons from the past, it’s important to continually look to the future.
That’s something Zenith has long understood and the new El Primero Sport launches a new era for the iconic chronograph.
Unveiled at LVMH Watch Week 2021, the new Sport is a milestone moment for the brand.
Speaking of the new model, Zenith CEO Julien Tornare, shared his delight at the success of its debut and hinted at the revolution to come.
“I’m super happy because we started to work on the repositioning of the chornomaster in 2018,” he revealed.
“We started 2019 with the Revival and the celebration of the El Primero and then 2020 should have been the year we got into the new league.
“One good call we made last year was not to launch this particular Chronomaster Sport as well as the next chronomaster we’re going to present in two months and an evolution of the Defy. That is coming soon, and they are very, very good products.”
DRAWING INSPIRATION FROM THE PAST
Zenith’s classic style has long been a home for the cherished El Primero movement and the new Sport pays homage to just that.
Julien continued: “We looked in our history and realised there had been very classic watches, interesting shapes like the A384 and A385 of course, but there had also been a more contemporary, slightly thicker kind of sport bezel look and casual watch of those years.
“I thought OK, let’s find those watches, put them on a tray and meet again. Our product specialist and our historian and archivist worked with us – they brought the watches back and we met again.”
The 41mm timepiece draws inspiration from horological heavyweights such as the De Luca, Rainbow, A277 and A386, but the Chronomaster Sport still has personality of its very own.
Just as Zenith keeps a close eye on its past, its focus is on the future and this is encapsulated by the Sport.
“It’s not really a sport watch as an instrument but it’s a casual sport chic look as we say in French,” he said.
“So, in chronomaster now we’re going to have three categories. Revival like the A384, A385, we’re going to have a classic aspect, very thin and super elegant and of course the Chronomaster Sport we are presenting today.”
A MODERN MASTERPIECE
One of the most striking features of the latest offering is the black ceramic bezel. As the material fast becomes the go-to for modern watchmakers, there’s no escaping the technical challenges it presents – especially on a minute scale.
Despite presenting challenges Julien and the team knew it was the best way to showcase the master craftsmanship behind the watch.
“We looked to the past and said OK, we’re going to make a black bezel but let’s make it in ceramic. It’s been a challenge, but it was also the best way for us to indicate what the watch is all about,” he said.
“That’s why we wrote on the top right tenth of a second, and in a way this chronograph also has a great advantage. They’re easy to manipulate and it’s very easy to understand how it works because you have the indications that are easy on the subdials between the minute second and the running second at nine, and you have the central hand giving you the tenth of a second.
“For me it as very important because I even get lost sometimes with too many indications, the tachymeter and all these things. For people who are not from the industry it could be complicated.
“This is quite simple to use. I believe the ceramic bezel doesn’t only give the look, but it gives something very clear in terms of indication.”
Julien added: “And you know why tenth of a second?
“I say if you think about chronometry, and you know we really are the brand into chronometry, if you have a 28,800 vph, which is 4Hz, you’re actually going to count to an eighth of a second. If you have a 21,600, which is 3Hz, you’re going to show one sixth of a second. It’s only by having 36,000 vph and 5Hz, that you can really count the 1/10th of a second.
“When you count a runner or a car we use tenth of a second, we don’t use any other measurement so I thought for us it was very spart to come back with this watch measuring the tenth of a second because that’s what chronometry is all about.”
“I BELIEVE THE WORST IS BEHIND US”
While the launch of the Chronomaster Sport has been a resounding success, there’s no escaping the impact the coronavirus has had on the brand.
Never in the history of watchmaking has anything stopped the industry stop ticking quite like the COVID-19 pandemic.
Julien had the difficult task of closing the company down in March when the virus gripped the globe, however, almost a year later he believes the worst is behind is.
He said: “It’s been a tough time. From the beginning I asked everyone to stay every active and very dynamic. I have the feeling we worked much harder to get less at the end.
“It’s been tough and it’s true sometimes you don’t want to wear any watch because you just want to forget what’s happening now. But now in 2021 and of course the problems aren’t yet solved we still have a lot of issues in our respective countries, I still believe the worst is behind us.
“A year ago you, me and the whole population of the world were not prepared for what was about to happen and now we know a bit, how to use Zoom, wear a mask and wash your hands 20 times a day, we can manage more in this situation – step by step.
“I know we’re still going to have a few tough months, but I really believe I’m someone who is pretty optimistic, that we’ll get out of this situation.”
The new era of the Zenith Chronomaster has just begun. The Chronomaster line has been one of the most emblematic chronograph collections of the 21st century.
To its portfolio of high-frequency mechanical chronographs, Zenith has added a new source of precision beats, in the form of superstar DJ, Carl Cox.