Upon first glance, we are immediately struck by this watch because of its oversized pink gold case and its complimentary pink dial. At a large 46mm diameter, its presence on the wrist is definite, and its character emulates. However, according to the Archives of Zenith, this watch has yet more enticing details that are not visible upon first glance.
The movement is produced by Martel Watch Co., a Swiss manufacturer which was once situated not far from the Zenith headquarters. Zenith usually commissioned them to make movements for their watches, prior to Zenith acquiring the company in 1959-1960.
The dial, superb with its large registers, has an unusual 30 minute counter. Usually, for watches destined in Europe and elsewhere, the longer subsidiary marker lines are situated at 3, 6 and 9, however, here they are situated at 4, 8 and 12. The longer strikes were used by Zenith in what was known as a 'Telechronograph,' a term reserved for a chronograph that was used to time the length of a telephone conversation, by the minute. In the 1940s, telephone calls were charged by the minute and the price would increase rapidly. In fact, in Europe, the price would be relatively low but then would increase at the 3rd minute- the reason for chronographs destined for delivery to Europe to have longer markings at 3, 6 and 9. In the U.S., however, it is likely that the pricing structure by the minute was different, perhaps at 4 minutes was the point in price fluctuation -the reason for the longer strikes on this watch at 4, 8, 12. Having been retailed by Tourneau, a U.S. company, with their signature also on the dial alongside Zenith, this watch was made specifically for the U.S. market, for their own timing needs.
Telechronographs were made for communications companies, cafes, bars, or individuals- practically anyone who used a telephone. However, in this case, this watch has an special provenance. From the collection of Mel and Noel Blanc, the Blanc family had acquired it directly from the family of famed American actor and tenor Mario Lanza, a close friend and neighbor of the Blanc family.
Embedded in the history of Zenith and their chronograph market in the U.S., this watch is valuable for its history of the brand as well rarity and provenance.