The Zenith Elite 681 Ultra Thin

At the recent 2010 SIHH exhibition Zenith present an elegant and understated piece, the Zenith Elite 681 Ultra Thin, released alongside their new stunning El Primero Foudroyante 1/10th Chronograph.

So far 2010 seems to be a year of distinctly classical watches, with pieces such as Jaeger-Le Coultre’s Master Memovox models and IWC’s Portuguese Yacht Club Chronographs appearing as contemporary interpretations of the original models.

Zenith’s Ultra Thin Elite 681 features a pure retro plain dial with faceted hour-markers, elongated sword-shaped hands and a subtle small seconds at 9 o’clock.  The sapphire crystal is slightly domed and the trim watchcase is available in 18 carat rose gold or stainless steel.  Various dial finishes are offered including two limited edition diamond set versions but it would be difficult to surpass the simple silvered style pictured here. The Elite self-winding 681 Calibre is just  3.81mm thick and has a power reserve of 50 hours.

Early extra-thin mechanical watch movements were initially hand wound to avoid the added height needed for an oscillating weight and self-winding ultra thin calibres were pioneered by both Piaget and Vacheron Constantin in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  Both of these brands continue to excel in this niche and it is interesting to note that both have also released anniversary tributes to their original extra-thin calibres this year.