Bringing together three noteworthy companies for one project takes a special purpose. For a particular wristwatch—the 135-O—that combination involved Zenith, Kari Voutilainen, and Phillips. But this is no simple reissue; it’s actually a restoration of the storied Calibre 135-O.
In the mid-20th century, Zenith launched the Calibre 135-O specifically for observatory competitions. The movement was so well done that it won 230 awards, and even set a record for winning top honours at the Neuchatel Observatory chronometry competition five times in a row. With so many accolades to its name, it’s surprising that this movement remained fairly unknown to the general public. With that backstory in mind, the restoration project involving Zenith, Kari Voutilainen, and Phillips becomes that much more interesting.
Voutilainen performed the restoration himself, bringing life back to an actual Calibre 135-O from between 1950 and 1954. This was painstaking work as the calibre is built around a larger balance wheel. The design, however, stands the test of time as that larger wheel allows for greater stability and precision. The wheel is coupled with a Breguet overcoil and a large mainspring barrel. The original gold plating was still intact and Voutilainen was able to use that to showcase a brilliant finish that is comprised of sharp polished anglage and hand graining on the bridges. The movement is housed in a slim case and hidden behind a matte black dial that is surrounded by fish sale guilloche. Triangular markers track the time using similar hour and minute hands, with the watch riding on a black leather strap.
Only 10 movements were picked to be a part of this restoration project, so it will be rare for any watch collector to be able to own one. The watches are sold exclusively through Phillips and are priced at CHF 132,900.