A former Austrian army paratrooper, Felix Baumgartner has racked up an incredible set of records, including that for the highest parachute jump, from the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur (1999), for the lowest extreme jump from the hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro (1999). He has also crossed the Channel in freefall with a carbon fibre wing (2003), done a base jump from the Millau viaduct (2004) and leapt off the 91st floor of the Taipei 101 skyscraper in Taiwan (2007). However, Felix Baumgartner achieved his most breathtaking feat with Zenith as a companion on October 14th 2012, 65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager first broke the sound barrier. He broke three freefall records on this occasion: the height (38,969.4 metres), the speed (1,357.6 km/h) and the duration of his jump (4 minutes and 20 seconds).
The dial of the watch illustrates Felix Baumgartner’s feat and the exceptional setting in which he accomplished it, by means of original decorations and unusual materials. The Zenith master artisans have reproduced the famous photo of Felix Baumgartner preparing to jump from the capsule that has reached its maximum height. The figure in a space suit adorning the power-reserve dial at 3 o’clock is chased and engraved on a hand-polished 18-carat gold plate fixed to the dial by two screws. The 12 o’clock hours and minutes dial bears a mark lightly drawn between the number 12 and the first hour-marker, evoking the duration of the jump (4 minutes and 20 seconds).
Like all models in the line, the plate is hollowed to embrace and enhance the shape of the gyroscopic Gravity Control module at 6 o’clock. The greatest part of the dial base is occupied by the turquoise Earth, while the upper section shows the Milky Way viewed from the stratosphere and depicted in aventurine.
On the case-back side of this model, the 18-carat gold power-reserve bridge illustrates the freefall of the Austrian base jumper. All the motifs are hand-engraved using the line engraving technique, with Baumgartner’s stylised silhouette at 12 o’clock, the capsule at 9 o’clock and the Earth at 3 o’clock, overlapping the gyroscopic Gravity Control module. These are surrounded by engraved inscriptions indicating the champion’s three records: “The highest 38,969.4 m = 127,852.4 feet / The fastest 1,357.6 km/h = 843.6 mph / The longest 4min 20s Freefall”, as well as the “Forty-Five (45) Jewels” on the movement, and the mention “Zenith Manufacture Le Locle”. Six jewels are placed on the capsule and the spacesuit, including one at the exact same spot as the watch that Felix Baumgartner wore when doing the jump.
This new timepiece houses a movement featuring two horological feats dedicated to peerless precision: a regulating organ with a high oscillation frequency (36,000 vibrations/hour) and a patented Gravity Control gyroscopic module, which neutralises the effects of gravity on the rate of the watch.
This movement is housed within a 45 mm platinum case with a DLC (Diamond-Like Carbon) coating that gives the material its spectacular matt black colour as well as its highly desirable properties of hardness and scratch resistance.
Issued in a 10-piece limited edition, the watch comes in a carbon-clad ebony presentation box which may be used as a humidor and also bears a silkscreened stainless steel plate with Felix Baumgartner’s signature.