It was just about two weeks ago that Bamford Watch Department announced its newest collaboration. The company has been working with Swiss watch brand Zenith for a while now and has introduced several special editions. This one, though, brings together Bamford Watch Department, Zenith and Black Badger – working together to create the Zenith El Primero Superconductor watch. There was some immediate hype about the super-cool looking watch, but we opted to study it a little longer to see if the hype was warranted.
Essentially, a superconductive metal or material allows electricity to pass through it without resistance at very low temperatures (usually below zero degrees), losing no efficiency to heat. They are usually used to transfer huge amounts of electrical energy and come into play in the medical field (MRI and other imaging machines), or the nuclear field. The benefits of the materials – in a watch — include added anti-magnetism and higher precision — plus some intriguing looks.
How the Superconductor Material Is Made
It all sounds super high-tech; and it is. (Reason 1 for the hype.) But that’s why it is the perfect project for the Zenith El Primero watch, which has always been cutting-edge and ahead of its time thanks to its already ultra-high precision. (Reason 2 for the hype.) For this project, George Bamford, founder of Bamford Watch Department, turned to Black Badger – a company that uses the Superconductor material for jewelry and other items because of its unique honeycomb structure. (Reason 3 for the hype.)
Black Badger, the brainchild of lume guru, James Thompson, makes incredible, upscale jewelry that glows in the dark. He has partnered with several watch brands along the way, as well, including MB&F, DeBehtune and others. And the truth is, as mentioned, this is not the first time he has worked with Superconductor materials.
“Superconductor as a material has been one of the main materials I have used in my jewelry design for several years, purely for its aesthetic,” explains Thompson. “The honeycomb structure gives the material a very striking high-tech look, and when the material is cut across the grain at an angle, the structure takes on a futuristic type of woodgrain effect.”
The Aesthetic of the Superconductor Material
According to Black Badger, the aesthetic on the watch case was achieved by also immersing the case in a special acid bath that etches away the copper in the material, causing an appearances that is different from all angles.
In its pure form, the superconducting material being used for the case is a copper-niobium mixture where filaments of silver-hued niobium are wrapped within a copper housing and then are “extruded to the desired length,” says Bamford. “There is a fantastically organized network honeycomb aesthetic. However, when angles and curves are introduced to the metal a brilliant high-tech woodgrain array is revealed.” For the watch, the material, as mentioned, was acid etched, and then matt finished with glass beads.
What’s Inside the Bamford Watch Department X Black Badger Zenith El Primero Superconductor watch
The movement within the 42mm Copper Niobium Superconductor case is the Automatic El Primero column-wheel chronographs 400B with 326 components and beating at 36,000 VpH (5 Hz). It offers a minimum of 50 hours of power reserve, and, in addition to chronograph functinos features a tachymeter scale. Just 20 pieces will be made, each retailing for 14,500 British pounds.
My Impressions Of The Bamford Watch Department x Black Badger Zenith El Primero Superconductor Watch and the Hype
For me, on this watch, the honeycomb structure looks slightly reptilian — so I am not jumping up and down for the appearance, but that’s a personal issue of mine. In all, I think the hype was warranted. Any time a big brand like Zenith partners with a creative customization company like Bamford, and then also partners with an independent creative mind like Black Badger — it’s just a win/win/win situation.
Technical Specifications of the Bamford Watch Department X Black Badger Zenith El Primero Superconductor watch
Movement Type: Automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph
Movement – El Primero 400B Automatic, 31 jewels, 326 components, 36,000 VpH, (5 Hz), Power Reserve – min 50 hours
Function – Self-winding El Primero column-wheel chronograph. Small seconds at 9 o’clock. Tachymetric scale. Date indication at 6 o’clock. Chronograph with – central chronograph seconds hand; 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock; 30 minute counter at 3 o’clock
Case: Copper Niobium Superconductor, 42mm diameter, 13mm thickness
Dial: black with gold accents, subdials and tachymeter scale; hands with Super-LumiNova
Crystal: sapphire and sapphire case back
Water Resistant: 100 meters
Strap: genuine suede leather in black with gold contrast stitching