I'd spotted this one for the first time almost two months back. In the meanwhile, I'd been trying to get my hands on a vintage (not strictly so, from the '70s anyways) cal. 400 El Primero with not much success ... to fit my budget, that is. But I'm really glad I broke down and got this Zenith Elite 680 automatic because boy-o-boy she's a real beauty, especially in the flesh.
The case is so elegantly proportioned (polished all over), I love the dagger hands and the raised/applied markers for the 5 minute intervals. The detail on the dial, hands and markers appears flawless, me likey! But the real icing on the cake from the appearance point of view is the guilloched concentric circles which seem to make the dial absorb and reflect light in so many wonderful ways from that gorgeously blue dial. The small unpatterned portion of the dial over which the seconds hand sweeps seems lighter than the rest of the dial. I think this is due to the fact that the guilloched part reflects less light to the observer's eyes as compared to the unpatterned part and hence appears darker (can be proved by simple ray tracing, or other techniques - optics 101). As beautiful as the dial side is, the movement appears even prettier, the finishing absolutely exquisite. The blue Lousiana crocodile strap completes the pretty picture (with a blue thread seam stitching).
The case is about 36 mm in dia. and less than 6 mm in thickness, I think and from what I read the cal. 680 is about 3.28 mm thick which would make it one of the thinner automatic movements used in watches today. The gently curved lugs have no sharp edges at all and are as beautifully finished as the rest of the case, it makes the watch sit very comfortably over the flat of the wrist. The dial seems to wear a bit larger than the size indicated due to the small size of the bezel, really love the proportions on this watch. I love the lepine arrangement (opposite the crown) of the small seconds hand, it really adds character to the dial (and a bit of uniqueness). It is one of the primary reasons I chose the cal. 680 over the 670 (and the direct drive seconds hand, as I was informed by Hartmut). The whole effect seems to be one of class and elegance.
However, all that effort would be a bit of a waste if the primary function of the watch isn't served - to tell time as accurately as its mechanical innards will allow it to. I have talked to a couple of owners of Zenith cal. 680s, and they tell me that the movement far exceeds COSC specs in absolute rate deviation, positional error and temperature variation. That has to be seen with my example, only time will tell ...
Right now, I'm happier than a kid in a candy store, the first blush of spring seems to have settled on this lovely timepiece ... I must say, it isn't all that far off from horological perfection.
Off with my rambling, on to the pudding ... er, pics -
The gorgeous movement ... one of those few instances where I think a see through caseback is really warranted.
And finally onto the gratuitous wrist shots -