Zenith Port Royal Open (03.0550.4021/21.C503)
Size 36mm x 51mm
Case Stainless steel (Variations: titanium, rose gold)
Dial Black (Variations: silver)
Strap Alligator (Variations: rubber)
Glass Sapphire crystal, anti-reflection treatment both sides
Movement Automatic self-winding, El Primero Calibre 4021 B
Features 1/10th second chronograph, sapphire crystal caseback, open dial, power reserve indicator, water resistant 50m
     
William Steed
 
Matthew McNutt
Form - One of Zenith’s most attractive case designs, the Port Royal is sleek, modern and powerful. Wonderfully faceted, its clean, angular shape is a fusion of super car and urban architecture, while the ‘Damier’ Guilloche dial work completes a style reminiscent of late 20th Century skyscraper design; as such, the Port Royal Open emanates strength and a stylish, masculine presence on the wrist. The powdered numerals are an interesting inclusion; applied numerals would perhaps be an improvement yet as they are, they contrast well against the contours of the dial. The ‘open’ nature of the dial, however, offers little to the watch. The execution is admittedly excellent, however I cannot help but feel that the watch would benefit from its absence. As a result of the unnecessary aperture, the sub seconds hand is not only without a dial but is also represented by an unsightly tri-spoke indicator, creating an unpleasing angular anomaly.   Form - The Port Royal Open is both sharp and dynamic, it has an 'executive' personality thanks to its imposing case lines and cleanly cut angles. A lack of dial symetry is an unwanted by-product of the dial window, leaving only one sub dial at the three o'clock position. Although, the rectangluar aperture does create an additional dimension that allows the wearer a view of the incredible high frequency balance wheel, quite a spectacle. In addition the glowing jewels that can be seen produce an eye-catching contrast to the almost entirely monochromatic theme of this piece. The continuation of the 'damier' decoration from the dial to the rotor is a nice touch and the movement itself is well finished, although not spectacularly. Overall the Port Royal Open has an unusual aesthetic appeal that stems from the coming together of different styles, as if a modern mega structure has been built on art-deco foundations.
 
Function - As a variation of the famous El Primero, the calibre 4021 B is amongst the best chronograph movements on the market; its high beat frequency providing timing accuracy beyond that of other production chronographs. Unfortunately however, the smoothly sweeping sub seconds hand is lost in the depths of the dial aperture and as such is difficult to see. The power reserve indicator, always a useful complication, is well displayed and is distinguished from the other hands by the subtle use of rose gold. The folding clasp feels extremely well made and reassuringly robust, despite this watch surely being intended as a dress watch, as which it performs wonderfully. The curvature of the case back ensures that the watch sits well on the wrist and the carefully considered dimensions of the crown and chronograph pushers make them easily accessible yet at no risk of accidental damage. WS   Function - First impressions are of excellent case work and superb build quality; the case is heavy yet comfortable thanks to intelligent design of the case back and the operational features, crown and pushers, function perfectly. Winding the movement is incredibly smooth, as is the sweep of the chronograph hand as it measures to a tenth of a second. The El Primero remains unsurpassed as a production chronograph and the level of accuracy it provides distinguishes it as a truly valuable instrument. Owing to the monochrome design of the dial, legibility is excellent with the notable exception of the sub seconds hand which, despite efforts to maximise visibility, is lost under most lights against the complicated back drop of the dial aperture. Water resistance of 50m is unimpressive, though reasonable given the nature of the Port Royal Open as a dress watch, although higher resistant would be more in-keeping with the otherwise outstanding case construction. MM
     
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