El Primero ("the first" in Esperanto) is a true legend in the world of watchmaking. The first high-frequency automatic chronograph was introduced on January 10, 1969. At the time, several brands were working on a similar caliber at once, but Zenith was ahead of the competition. The unusually high frequency of the balance wheel of 36,000 vibrations per hour made it possible to measure periods of time up to one tenth of a second. The El Primero wrist chronograph set Zenith's aesthetic standard for a long time: three counters - a light gray seconds, a blue minute and an anthracite watch - became the stylistic code of the Le Locle-based manufactory. And the built-in column-wheel chronograph movement and ball-bearing center rotor guaranteeing a power reserve of over 50 hours marks a major technological breakthrough in watchmaking.
For the anniversary of the innovation, the brand has prepared a special set, released in the amount of 50 copies, worth 50 thousand Swiss francs each. The cushioned box contains the Zenith trilogy. In the first place is an exact reprint of the original 1969 in a steel case with a diameter of 38 mm. For the first time in half a century, the brand reproduces an authentic watch from its museum collection - it is no coincidence that the model was named El Primero A386 Revival. The original 1969 Zenith chronograph was completely laser scanned to reproduce every detail as accurately as possible: the typeface, the convex glass with a magnifying effect, the shape of the hands and markers, the buttons and strap lugs. The changes affected only the back cover of the steel case: initially it was deaf,and now fully reveals the movement - a modern version of the El Primero caliber with a 50-hour power reserve.
© press service
The second position is taken by the sports Chronomaster 2.0 with the new generation El Primero 3600 caliber. It also measures tenths of a second, but has a more modern architecture and is housed in the current sporty 42 mm steel case with a black ceramic bezel. The self-winding rotor is made in the shape of a star, and the power reserve has increased to 60 hours.
The third milestone is the ultra-modern titanium chronograph Defy El Primero 21 with the revolutionary Defy El Primero caliber, which can divide a second into hundredths. These moments are measured by the central dynamic hand, which makes a full revolution around the dial in one second. The chronograph in the El Primero 21 is powered by a separate wheel train with its own barrel and escapement - the balance wheel oscillates at 360,000 vibrations per hour (which corresponds to 50 Hz). An independent second "gearbox" controls the time display. The skeletonized dial features the same three counters in the original El Primero colors.
1 of 5 Exact replica of 1969 el Primero © Press Service Chronograph Zenith Defy El Primero 21 © Press Service Chronomaster 2.0 El Primero © Press Service El Primero A386 Revival © Press Service
The fourth pad is designed for the latest development, which in a few years will detect thousandths of a second.
Inside, the gift case is a miniature watchmaker's workplace with all the necessary tools. In addition to the trio of watches, the purchaser of the anniversary set will receive a copy of one of the key elements of the El Primero caliber, which was secretly preserved by the watchmaker Charles Vermot in the attic of the Le Locle manufactory in the midst of the quartz crisis, and thus was saved from destruction.
Another surprise for the golden anniversary is the El Primero A386 Revival triad in white, yellow and rose gold, released in 50 pieces. Each model has received a 50-year warranty. This means that the legendary Zenith chronograph has every chance of celebrating its centenary.
1 of 3 Zenith El Primero watches, created in collaboration with the auction house Phillips © press service © press service © press service
The El Primero festive year ended with a record sale at the Phillips Geneva Watch Auction X. The unique Zenith El Primero A386 One-Off with a natural lapis lazuli dial in a platinum case (this is the first and only platinum copy in the history of the brand) was put up for auction. The final cost of the watch was CHF 250,000, the largest amount ever paid for a Zenith watch.>