Turning the odds on a wild bet
Basel, April 15, 2004 – Harry Winston is launching a new watch collection with the unveiling at Basel 2004 of the first complicated model in Project Z1. The high-tech sports watch features three world firsts: an automatic chronograph with three off-centre retrograde indications, a radically different design, and a totally new material in watchmaking.
An unknown material
Project Z1 is the idea of an inventor in alloys. Ronald Winston's field ranges from jewellery to aerospace. This time he became fascinated by an alloy unknown outside the aerospace industry. He named it Zalium, because zirconium (Zr) is its major component, and after the allium lily. Used in jet engines, it is a material unlike any other, and it has never been seen in watchmaking. The reason? Much harder than titanium, it is extremely difficult to work. The case can't be stamped out; it has to be machined from the ingot — very carefully, because the dust is liable to catch fire. Crafting the case for Project Z1 was in itself a major technological achievement.
A remarkable chronograph
The movement for Project Z1 also had to be exceptional. It is an automatic chronograph with retrograde indications for the chronograph seconds at 6 o'clock and the 30-minute and 12- hour registers at 4 o'clock and 8 o'clock. The running hours and minutes are also offset at 12 o'clock. An independent Geneva watchmaker developed this outstanding mechanism for Harry Winston. Another feature is the use of a compensating toothed gear — each tooth is split to mesh perfectly with other wheels. The system, used on a world first basis on Harry Winston's Excenter Timezone in 2003, eliminates play in the wheel-train, which translates into a more precise indication of time. Note the small blue star under the arc of the chronograph seconds. It rotates to tell you your watch is going and reveals the movement beneath.
And a case apart
Project Z1's case has a strange lustre with a dark gleam. The effect is heightened by a strap of a different texture, especially created in black rubber for Project Z1. The watch reveals its good looks in a radically new Harry Winston case design that retains the emblematic arches of its New York showrooms, this time to protect the crown. The case, with a diameter of 44mm, is unusually large for a Harry Winston watch, but the lugs holding the strap swivel through 30° to make the watch comfortable on a smaller wrist — why not a lady's? The sleek chronograph buttons, like repeating slides, take a low profile to frame the crown. Project Z1 carries forward Harry Winston's stylistic genes in a new generation with its own character. “It's a watch of finesse and force,” says Ronald Winston. “In fact, very Harry Winston. A new way of combining elegance with action. I've been wearing a prototype for two years and I like its strength and lightness. It's sure to find its place in the imaginations of watch enthusiasts and collectors all over the world.” It is also rare. Only 100 will ever be crafted.