Hands-On: Zenith Split A Watch Dial In Two With The Lupin Final Edition
This bicolor manifestation of the A384 Revival is a must-see.
I recently found the need to consult the internet’s largest, open compendium of information (aka Wikipedia) after seeing one of the newest releases from Zenith, the third and final watch in its recent Lupin the Third collection. The watch – called the Final Edition – is easy enough to like. It comes in the classic El Primero A384 Revival-style case, with a vintage, ladder-style bracelet, and a striking diagonally split, bi-color dial (well there’s more than two colors on the dial, but you get the idea).
So what was it I needed to research? Well, I’m sorry to admit that I was unfamiliar with Lupin the Third (or Lupin III as Wiki calls it). Turns out, it’s a popular Japanese manga turned cartoon show, turned film franchise …. turned wristwatch. First published in 1967, it follows the exploits of Arsène Lupin III, grandson of Arsène Lupin, a master thief and lead character in an early 20th-century French serial.
Thank you, Wikipedia, I’ll take it from here.
Zenith has now created three watches inspired by grandson Lupin. Today we will be looking at the most recent watch, which is literally a mixture of the first two. I am a sucker for Zenith’s Revival case design. At 37mm, with its tonneau shape, I just find that it wears so well on the wrist. I’ve handled both the Revival Shadow and Revival Liberty in the past and was smitten by each in different ways.
The Lupin the Third series offers a more directly vintage-inspired take on the Revival A384 motif, opting for a more gilt, faux-aged aesthetic. Unlike the Shadow and Liberty, however, this one comes equipped with Zenith’s famous ladder bracelet – another directly vintage throwback.
I saw the press images for this watch and just knew I had to see it in person. I mean, how could I deprive you all of seeing live images of a 250-piece limited edition watch that will likely fade out of sight and mind once all pieces are spoken for?
The new, and final Zenith Lupin is just plain fun. I mean, it’s based on a Japanese manga, has an illustration of the lead character atop the exhibition caseback, and features a positively zany dial design. It’s the kind of watch that will get noticed often, and for good reason. And to that point, it has enough of a backstory to warrant a conversation. It might even get someone interested in watches for the first time.
From a design standpoint, this piece kind of speaks for itself. If you are familiar with Zenith at all, there’s pretty much only a dial and caseback discussion to be had. With the former, there’s a lot to love. Seeing as this is a mixture of two watches, you’re getting two dials. One half – the top half – is black, with essentially grey subsidiary registers. Basically all of the text resides on this portion of the dial and it’s done in a gilt hue. The minute track shares the same coloration. The inner bezel – or outer dial, depending on your point of view – is finished in a similar grey tone to the subdial.
The bottom half (honestly, I don’t know if top and bottom exist in a diagonal scenario) is done in an off-white. The printed portions are in black, as opposed to the gilt of the black dial side. It’s interesting that the numerals for the internal bezel are black against the white dial, and also black against the grey color on the black dial portion. Man, it’s difficult to write about a watch split in two.
One thing that strikes me is how pronounced the 4:30 date window is on the white dial portion. In fact, I think this would look better if the colors were swapped. It would have effectively hidden the date aperture thus preserving most of the dial symmetry. At the end of the day, 4:30 date windows are a hallmark of vintage Zenith design, so maybe the brand wanted to highlight it in this way.
The hands and markers are rhodium- or gold-plated with beige Super-LumiNova applied to them. Taking the dial in as a whole, it’s truly impressive, especially once you find out the process it took to make it a reality. It’s not as simple as gluing two sides together … in fact, far from it. According to Zenith:
“The blank dial is first finished entirely in a silvery-white color on the right half, then the black chronograph counters are milled while the rest of the dial is protected with a layer of transparent and colorless lacquer. As the second half of the dial must be painted black, the other white half of the dial is given a protective layer. If the protection isn’t correctly applied, colors can bleed into each other, ruining the dial. Another layer of complexity is added in that a third grey color must be applied for the counters.”
It’s not easy to make, especially 250 times. Then there’s the titanium case and bracelet. This watch is as light as it gets, especially considering that there are no center links. Nobody really talks about this, but I was particularly impressed by the attention paid to the clasp. Featuring a double locking enclosure, the clasp looks and feels like it’s pulled straight from a vintage watch, complete with stamped metal – nothing milled here. It adds to the overall lightness and certainly bolsters the charm.
Inside the case beats the Zenith El Primero 400 Automatic. While I typically prefer closed casebacks, Zenith is where I tend to make an exception, only here, the movement is obscured by a printed illustration of a Lupin character. It’s a neat addition, though I do find printing on sapphire casebacks to be a bit distracting given the see-through nature of them.
The Lupin The Third – Final Edition grabbed me by its looks and has since sparked my interest in the comic upon which it’s based. I’ll likely never own this watch, but I’m jealous of the 250 manga-loving souls who do or will. It’s a good one. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I need to get off Wikipedia and crack open some stories about Arsène Lupin III.
The Zenith Chronomaster Revival Lupin The Third – Final Edition ref. 95.L384.400/50.M384. 37mm titanium case. Zenith El Primero cal. 400 automatic chronograph movement beating at 5Hz. Indications for the hour, minute, small seconds. 12-hour chronograph and date. Titanium “ladder” bracelet and double folding clasp. Price: $10,000.
Photos, Kasia Milton