The history of the Zenith El Primero

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The history of the Zenith El Primero

Post by koimaster » October 27th 2020, 1:31pm

Founded in 1865 in Le Locle by Georges Favre-Jacot, Zenith quickly earned a reputation as the manufacturer of some of the most precise timepieces of those years achieving the first prize in the chronometry competition of the observatory of Neuchâtel in 1903. Over the years, Zenith won many more competitions achieving the impressive record of more than 2,300 prizes considering pocket watches, on board instruments and wristwatches

These successes accelerated the growth of the company which was transformed into a stock company in 1911. After the First World War Zenith began with the development and manufacture of wristwatches, including alarm and chronograph functions.

While automatic movements for “solo-tempo” or three-hand watches started becoming popular in the 1940s and 1950s, no automatic chronograph movements had been manufactured yet.

In 1962, Zenith began developing the idea of creating the first automatic chronograph in watchmaking history with the ambition to launch it in 1965, on occasion of the centenary of the Manufactury.

Instead of considering the easier option to add a chronograph module to a base movement, Zenith had a more ambitious plan: the chronograph function had to be fully integrated within the mechanism and actuated by a column wheel rather than by an easier-to-implement cam. And to make things even more challenging, the beating frequency of the chronograph had to be high enough to make it the most accurate chronograph wristwatch in the world measuring 1/10th of a second. A relatively small size and a date indication were additional specifications.

With all these requirements, the bar was raised so high that the project could not be completed in time for the centenary in 1965 but it required four more years.

In 1969, at a press conference held on January the 10th, Zenith announced the imminent launch of the first fully integrated, high-frequency, automatic chronograph movement. Codenamed 3019 PHC, this movement was renamed “El Primero”, which means “the first” in Spanish. ... imero.html


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