Zenith shows Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia some love with its watches
And it’s not the only watchmaker to throw country-specific editions our way this year.
Limited editions are nice. Limited editions that were made specially to celebrate the bit of land you were born on are nicer – if patriotism is your thing. Even if it’s not, it’s hard not to approve of the much livelier looking Zenith Defy El Primero 21 Singapore Edition.
The open-worked dial, usually dressed in black and blue with a hint of red, has been brightened up with our national colours and comes with a matching alligator over rubber strap. The transparent caseback also features an imprint of Marina Bay Sands’ silhouette.
The Singapore Edition is joined by a Malaysia and Indonesia Edition, with all three recently released together to celebrate Zenith’s presence in Southeast Asia. The trio share the same watch face – as all three countries conveniently have red and white on their flags – so it is the straps and case backs that distinguish them.
The Malaysia model has a blue and yellow strap with the Petronas Towers on the back, while the Indonesia Edition sports a predominantly red strap with white stitching and the Borobudur Temple printed on the crystal back.
The Singapore Edition will no doubt complete your next National Day ensemble, but any iteration of the Zenith Defy El Primero 21 is worth a spot in your winder for a number of reasons, the least of which is that it’s one of two of the only serially-produced chronographs that can track elapsed times to 1/100th of a second. (The other is Tag Heuer’s much pricier Carrera Mikrograph.) This means the chronograph’s seconds hand can make one full rotation around the dial in one second.
This was made possible by having two escapements – one that runs at 5Hz for normal timekeeping, and one at 50Hz for the chronograph. Both of them boast low-friction silicon escape wheels and pallet forks, as well as balance springs made of the patented, tongue-twisting Carbon-Matrix Carbon Nanotubes, said to be more resistant to wear and influences of magnetic fields and fluctuating temperatures. It’s impressive seeing the chronograph in action, but the tremendous amount of energy required to power it means it can only run continuously for about 50 minutes, hence the inclusion of its own power reserve indicator at 12 o‘clock.
The automatic El Primero 9004 movement also features a patented rest mechanism that allows all displays – the seconds, tenths and hundredths of a second – to be set to zero simultaneously.
The Singapore and Indonesia Editions are both a 20-piece limited edition, while there only 10 pieces of the Malaysia Edition available.
THE HOT RED DOT
Singapore may be small, but the collective devotion of watch aficionados here have prompted brands to give us special editions in the past. Notwithstanding the plethora of SG50-themed watches released four years ago, watchmakers have been giving us a little more love in recent times, and examples include the Nomos Glashutte Zurich Weitzeit Singapore, Louis Monet Singapore Edition and Laurent Ferrier Galet Regulateur Singapore Edition. It’s not a stretch to assume that Singapore’s position as the sixth biggest market for Swiss watches had a lot to do with the following releases from this year.
Singapore Watch Club founder Tom Chng prefers his country-commemorating editions to be thought-provoking “without being too literal with their depiction of Singaporean elements”. Rather than wait for such a watch to come around, he’s roped in local calligraphy studio Craft Varies for a Hublot commission to celebrate the Singapore Watch Club’s fourth anniversary. The result was a Classic Fusion model with a linen dial – meant to represent the tight knit of the club, which now has about 150 members and associates – and applied Chinese numerals courtesy of Craft Varies.
“We wanted to pay tribute to the important history of Chinese calligraphy. Singapore has, after all, a predominantly Chinese population, and naturally by proportion our members are as well,” said Chng, who was also in charge of commissioning a limited edition Ulysse Nardin Classico for his club’s second anniversary.
“It is important for our partner brands to understand that we're not just looking to mindlessly change the colour of the dial, or produce a frivolous result. We believe a level of synergy is required to build something truly special.”
Here’s another watch that doesn’t rely on flag colours to pay homage. The Omega Seamaster Exclusive Boutique Singapore Limited Edition used the brand’s vintage-styled Olympic editions from last year as its base and reintroduced it in white and blue to mark the 200th anniversary of Sir Stamford Raffles’ arrival on the island.
Flip it over to see a ring engraved with landmarks like the Esplanade and Raffles Hotel, as well as a winding rotor reminding you that it’s the Master Chronometer co-axial calibre 8800 powering the watch.
Not only did Patek Philippe choose Singapore to play host to its biggest exhibition to date, it also created six limited editions by way of thanks. These comprise an Aquanaut, Aquanaut Luce, Calatrava Pilot Travel Time, World Time Chronograph, World Time Minute Repeater, and an all-new Minute Repeater Tourbillon.
Given Patek Philippe’s track record of keeping things timeless (read: Safe), the nods to our city are subtle and largely cosmetic – a heavy use of red for the Aquanauts and a cloisonne enamel map of Singapore on the World Time Minute Repeater, for example.
The Minute Repeater Tourbillon Singapore 2019 Ref. 5303R-010 is the exception. It’s the first Patek Philippe watch without a dial, and features a reengineered R 27 movement (now the R TO 27 PS) that shows the tourbillon and striking mechanisms in all their glory.