To understand the true extent of Zenith’s evolution under CEO Julien Tornare, it helps to consider the Swiss watch brand’s changing demographic. Since he took over six years ago, Zenith has broadened its appeal to reach a more youthful audience. “We rejuvenated our client average age by nine years from 45 years when I took over, to about 36 today,” Tornare says.
It’s a notable achievement in a watch market increasingly preoccupied with forging meaningful connections with a younger market. It’s a shift in focus driven by business realities. Last year, millennials and generation Z accounted for all of the luxury market’s growth, according to a consultancy report from Bain & Company, while those under 40 are expected to make up a fast-expanding chunk of overall sales in the years ahead.
Zenith’s more fresh-faced appeal was no doubt helped by some partnerships that include AFL legend Buddy Franklin, the modern artist Felipe Pantone and superstar DJ Carl Cox. But while ambassadorships may scatter a handful of stardust, the true measure of any watch brand ultimately lies in its product range. Among the host of new releases under Tornare’s reign, the one that really moved the dial for Zenith was the revival of the Chronomaster Sport.
The Chronomaster Sport was originally created in 1995 as a top-of-the-range home for Zenith’s El Primero movement, a calibre of sufficiently high regard that a modified version was used by Rolex to power its Daytona from 1988 to 2000. Two years ago, Zenith released a sportier, modernised version of the Chronomaster Sport. Visually distinct due to its signature tricolour registers in blue, silver and grey, it also offered a scratch-resistant ceramic bezel and the El Primero 3600 calibre within. The result was a runaway hit with both industry experts and the public alike. The Chronomaster Sport was crowned the winner of the 2021 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève “Chronograph” prize, and this acclaim was reflected by fierce retail demand.
The success of the Chronomaster Sport predictably spawned numerous variations including versions with multicoloured bezels, open-heart dials and rose gold cases. But the newest release offers a number of intriguing differences.
This new Zenith Chronomaster Sport is the first core collection model with a sunburst blue dial, a backdrop that makes those distinctive tricolour subdials in navy, silver and grey really pop. This look, Zenith explains, is inspired by the “De Luca” and “Rainbow” models that the brand produced in the 1980s and 1990s.
The other notable switch-up on the new model is the bezel, which now comes in steel rather than ceramic. Visually, this invites great focus on that blue dial while conjuring a cleaner, more utilitarian look. Another welcome advantage is that it also comes $800 cheaper than the model with a ceramic bezel.
Once again, it’s an example of Zenith taking its illustrious heritage and channelling it into something fresh and progressive. “For a while the brand was a little too turned to the past and became a little bit dusty,” Tornare admits. “My job was to say, ‘OK, let’s build on our heritage and continue to be a serious manufacture, but let’s also have fun and live in the 21st century.”
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3114.3600/51.M3100, $15,800, zenith-watches.com