Zero West is a relatively new British watch brand, that pays homage to the past through beautifully engineered timepieces.
Founded by a couple of friends with very different backgrounds, one being in advertising and design, the other a mechanical engineer; Zero West produce well built, innovative watches with a story.
The Zero West LS-1 – Land Speed 1927 has been inspired by Sir Henry Seagrave’s land speed record achievement in the Sunbeam, which broke 203mph at Daytona Beach in 1927.
The LS-1 is reminiscent of a vintage dashboard stop/start time keeping device, rather than a traditional wrist watch.
Co-founder Andrew Brabyn explains the concept behind the watch:
The LS-1 Land Speed chronograph pays homage to this British engineering achievement with its stopwatch style layout harking back to the dashboard-mounted timing watches of the era seen on many of these speed icons. It was important for Zero West that the watch had an engineering vintage feel with ‘wearability’ and struck a fine balance of having a presence, without being too large. During the design process, we 3D print all our watches before production to fine-tune the ergonomics, we believe the results speak for themselves and flys the flag for British engineering.
Face & case
The main case of the Zero West LS-1 – Land Speed 1927 is machined from billet 316L stainless steel. The production model is finished with matt black PVD with straight barrel knurl and brushed top chamfer, however the piece shown in my own photos is entirely stainless steel (both brushed and polished areas), which is also available for purchase by request. The case sits on what appears to be a polished stopwatch cradle.
The first thing you will probably notice is that the configuration of the crown and pushers is in that of a “bulls head”, rather than being in a traditional layout with the crown located on one of the sides.
Inside the main case and underneath the sapphire crystal glass, a satin steel dial ring with 0.2 second indexes marked in black, sits just inside the bezel and frames the dial, which is black enamel on a brass disc.
The hour markers are fairly large in a 20’s vintage style and are clearly visible in white, outlined with a thin red line. All numbers are present other than the 6, which has been replaced with a latitude and longitude reference – this is actually for Daytona Beach, where the land speed record was achieved in 1927.
A white circle sits inside the hour markers, which links 3 sub dials (sweep seconds, minute and hour chronographs) at 3, 6 and 9 o’clock. The sub dials are printed white, with red hands. The Zero West brand and logo, as well as a date code (Sunbeam land speed record date – 29th March 1927) are located where a fourth chrono sub dial could be located at 12 o’clock, also in white.
Everything visible on the dial is over printed on the black enamel dial and the white is highlighted with Super Luminova X1 luminous pigment.
The hour and minute hands are substantial, in matt steel, also finished with Super Luminova. The sweeping seconds hand sits above it all, is red and very thin.
Time adjustment is by an oversized, diamond knurled and dome topped main crown located at 12 o’clock, which is screw lock & sprung with a triple seal. Chronograph Pushers are sprung and double sealed. The start/stop is polished red at 11 o’ clock and the reset is silver polished at 1 o’clock.
Turn the watch over and the backplate and lugs are formed from one continuous piece of mirror polished steel.
10 screws (which secure the main case to the cradle) surround a large and fairly intricate laser engraving of the Sunbeam during it’s land speed run inside a wreath. Also included within the portrait are the speed achieved (203.79 mph), the Zero West logo and the limited edition number.
The watch is powered by an ETA Valjoux 7750 automatic Swiss movement, which oscillates at 28,800vph.
Featuring 25 jewels, a self-winding ball bearing rotor and Incabloc shock protection, owners should see around 45 hours power reserve once fully wound.
The watch has also been 100% tested for water resistance at 10ATM, equivalent to 100m.
All of Zero West’s straps are custom and hand made in house. The LS-1 is supplied fitted with a 22mm ink black, Horween leather strap, with white waxed hemp stitching and single sliding keeper loop.
The buckle is highly polished and laser engraved with the Zero West logo.
The strap featured in the images for the watch reviewed is also a custom Zero West strap; black Horween leather with black stitching and “rally” holes, backed with red canvas (peeking through the holes) which adds a sportier look.
If you purchase a Zero West watch, there are many strap options to choose from if you don’t fancy the black with white stitching.
The Zero West LS-1 is built in a workshop in Emsworth, which has a bit of a historical connection to motor racing.
The Zero West workshop is in the “Old Boathouse”, which was formerly owned by George Gray, a panelling expert from London. George worked on legendary Bluebird land-speed vehicles and the record breaking Railton Mobil Special and his team were also responsible for working on Henry Seagrave’s Sunbeam, which was the first vehicle to go over 200mph in 1927 (now at Beaulieu motor museum).
As well as creating the bodywork for the first Vanwall racing cars back in the 1950’s, George also secured a contract to build Spitfire fuselages after the bombing of the factory in Southampton during World War Two, which he did at one of the many shadow factories set up along the south coast.
In 1972, all three land-speed vehicles were taken to Emsworth at the request of the Beaulieu Car Museum for restoration at George Gray’s garage, now run by Roy Parsons – the only remaining member of the original workshop team.
On first seeing the LS-1, I wasn’t really sure what to think, as I’m not a mad vintage/retro fan and have always been a bit confused by the idea of configuring a watch as a stopwatch. I do like black, red and shiny things and love cars, so that’s a start I suppose!
With a vertical measurement of 52.5mm lug to lug, it does look like a bit of a “beast” off the wrist, however on the wrist it’s appearance reduces in size slightly. This is probably due to the case itself actually being only 44mm in diameter, siting within a sculpted cradle. It actually sits very comfortably across the wrist.
The watch is well weighted, especially considering it weighs 150 grams – which is the same weight as a billiard ball. (Imagine one of them strapped to your wrist!)
At 15.7mm, it is quite thick and with the addition of the functions being at the top, I think getting under many cuffs wouldn’t really be too easily achievable, but I doubt owners would really be too bothered, as it is quite a good looker and probably a good conversation piece too.
What is achievable though, is being able to purchase one. At only £2995, the LS-1 can be yours and with only 99 pieces being made, I don’t expect there to be many left (if any).
I love watches and cars, and after a while with the LS-1 and learning about the brand a bit more, I really get the concept. The passion of the founders at Zero West really comes out in the LS-1 too, not only with the detail in design and build quality, but the story that comes with the watch, along with the link to motor sport heritage.
There seems to be a story associated with each piece that Zero West release, so I’m actually quite intrigued to see what comes from their workshop on the south coast of England next .