How Horology Helps ZENITH x Voutilainen x Philips Niobium CAL 135-0 to Benefit the Susan G. Komen Foundation

How Horology Helps is an ongoing column in support of what we deem to be the most important contributions to social, medical, environmental, and scientific efforts coming from the world of horology.

A Personal Connection

My beloved sister-in-law Jean M. Farmelo recently passed away, peacefully and surrounded by family, after nobly battling breast cancer. The coincidence of Jean’s passing and this watch project prompted us to create How Horology Helps.

In advance of the upcoming Geneva Watch Auction running on November 5 and 6 of 2022, Zenith, Voutilainen, and Philips announce a unique piece that will benefit the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, which invests in research to help develop a cure for breast cancer.

Zenith Voutilainen Cal 135-0

A Rare and Impressive Vintage Movement

The watch houses cal. 135-0, a special version of the Zenith cal. 135 (1949-1962) developed to compete in the then industry-wide observatory chronometer trials. The “-0” indicates the chronometer trial version of the movement, and these are exceptionally rare. Ten of the 135-0 movemenets were refurbished and auctioned in a separate release earlier this year. This watch will be the 11th, and it will be a piece unique.

Zenith Voutilainen Cal 135-0

At just 5mm in height 30mm across, the cal. 135-0 barely met the size requirements for entering the observatory trials. The method Zenith chose to improve precision in the 135-0 included a balance at a whopping 14mm in diameter (nearly half the diameter of the movement itself) and an enlarged barrel that could deliver consistent torque, aiding isochronism. As the pictures here reveal, there were many weights on the free-sprung balance permitting micro-adjustment for competition.

Zenith Voutilainen Cal 135-0

Acclaimed horologist Kari Voutilainen was brought into the project to restore the movement, which required a painstaking disassembly and rebuild, as well as pink-gold plating of the bridges and plates – a choice in alignment with the dial color and, more importantly, the color associated with the movement to cure breast cancer. This is the only 135-0 in the world to carry this color.

Pink for Good Reason

Also rare is the gorgeous salmon dial decorated with impressively sculptural guilloché engraving. Salmon dials are classic yet relatively rare. Salmon is usually found in highly sophisticated watches from Switzerland’s most esteemed watchmakers, setting this timepiece in good company.

Zenith Voutilainen Cal 135-0

The case is composed of a metal called Niobium. Typically used in aeronautical stainless steel blends to improve stability in low temperature conditions, niobium carries a hardness and resiliency similar to titanium. Niobium distinguishes this watch, and it may be that the metal has never been used to create a watch before this.

The movement’s serial number is printed discretely on the sub-dial, indicating the rarity of this timepiece.

To follow the auction, please visit Philips here.

Use this link to support Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation.