The Project Z9 by Harry Winston belongs to the Project Z series of watches (in turn part of the Ocean collection), all technical and sporty, with certain instantly recognizable features such as the case in Zalium, a proprietary alloy of aluminium and zirconium, the three arches that in this piece are at the crown, the shuriken running seconds indicator, the Harry Winston logo on an emerald-shaped marker, and a rubber strap. In the Project Z9, the watch is a chronograph, driven by a Blancpain movement, and has an unusual dial layout, with chronograph half-dials, hands that are double-ended, and double scales, outer and inner, corresponding to the two sides of the subdial hands.
Case and dial
The watch is a bit like a Michelangelo bas-relief in that a sense of depth is created in a very shallow space (thickness 13.2 mm). The Harry Winston designers have done this by opening up the dial with a lattice-work structure on successive levels, with the hands on the top, then the approximately hemi-hexagonal subdials, then the circular date ring, and on down to the movement wheels and circular-grained baseplate. The case is large at 44.2 mm diameter, but the watch is light as a result of the zalium material. The case is brush-finished, and it gives the watch a dully gleaming grey appearance that is very much part of the Project Z heritage. The blue-grey colour combination continues in low lighting, with hands and hour indices coated in blue-glowing SuperLuminova, and the background for the date ring that is white by day and glows blue at night. The sapphire caseback reveals the skeletonized oscillating weight in white gold. The case has a water resistance of 100 metres. The strap in black rubber with a clou de Paris textured motif is beautifully shaped to continue the tapering lines of the lugs, and it has an ardillon buckle in zalium.
Visually the watch is interesting because at first glance, you don’t notice its function. It’s only after careful examination that you see the two pushers at 2 and 4 o’clock, subtly following the circular lines of the case and abutting on the arches that become a crown protector, and the two subdials. The chronograph is a flyback, so that the top pusher starts and stops the chronograph, and the bottom pusher either returns the chronograph hands to zero, or, if pushed while the chronograph is running, instantaneously restarts the chronograph to measure a new period of time. But this piece, rather like the Breguet Tradition Chronographe Indépendant 7077, is more about achieving an original appearance than being a highly functional chronograph. The subdials are clearly marked for the first half on a blue background, less clearly for the second half of the hand’s revolution, with the grey half of the hand pointing to a silver-grey scale with rudimentary divisions. This method makes the subdial more compact, and it can also be seen in the Montblanc Heritage Chronométrie ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph.
Movement by Blancpain
Now that Harry Winston is part of Swatch Group, Blancpain makes the movements, and the Project Z9 has a high-speed automatic movement – named the HW3304 – running at 5 Hertz (36,000 vph).
Reference and price
The Harry Winston Project Z9 is a limited edition of 300 pieces, reference OCEACH44ZZ004, price 23,000 Swiss francs.