The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

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The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by koimaster » July 10th 2019, 10:33am

It’s common knowledge that Zenith invented the first automatic chronograph 50 years ago. An absolute classic, the El Primero is the true pioneer of today's chronographs and was used by many other brands. Today, we take a look back on how this breakthrough was made possible.

Invented 50 years ago, this automatic chronograph made waves far beyond the snowy Swiss mountains. And although most everyone knows this, few knew that – if not for one man – the El Primero may not have survived to see the 21st century.

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The Man, The Myth, The Legend - Charles Vermot

The year is 1969, a year full of firsts for humanity: the first Concorde supersonic test flight, the first man on the moon, and the first automatic chronograph. Zenith SA, based in Le Locle, was the first Manufacture to invent this now iconic calibre. After its creation, the Zenith El Primero had what looked to be a bright shining future. Not only was it the first ever automatic chronograph movement, but it was also the first and only chronograph capable of measurements to the nearest tenth of a second. All this was thanks to its now infamous 36,000 vph heartbeat. Zenith won the race against countless companies, Swiss and Japanese, to invent this now legendary chronograph.

https://www.watchonista.com/articles/de ... el-primero
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Re: The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by gerdson » July 10th 2019, 11:36am

It is NOT common knowledge thst Zenith invented the first fucking automatic chronograph for all fucking fucker's fuck' fucking sake, fick verdammt. I wish I woild posess just a tiny part of vintsge blokes's eloquence, but this is just another example why I never steer my browser to pages og wnw or what's wrong with me ista or the likes.
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Re: The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by conjurer » July 10th 2019, 8:40pm

gerdson wrote:It is NOT common knowledge thst Zenith invented the first fucking automatic chronograph for all fucking fucker's fuck' fucking sake, fick verdammt. I wish I woild posess just a tiny part of vintsge blokes's eloquence, but this is just another example why I never steer my browser to pages og wnw or what's wrong with me ista or the likes.


Is "fick" kraut for "fuck"?
My little brain can't even comprehend how deep that is.

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Re: The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by Hawk » July 11th 2019, 9:41pm

I thought Gerd's most eloquent rant was suggesting that NOT everyone knows Zenith made the first automatic chronograph because it's disputed.

on 3 March 1969, the first automatic chronograph movement was introduced. This movement, nick-named Chronomatic, was developed by a joint venture of Heuer, Breitling, Buren and Dubois-Depraz. The Chronomatic was used by Heuer, Breitling and Buren under the name of caliber 11.


Or at least disputed here: https://monochrome-watches.com/the-firs ... -movement/

I don't have a dog in the fight. I don't even have a rented dog in the fight but it'd be nice if Bloke or somebody chimed in to break the impasse.
And the fact I'm still living rent free in his head makes me grin and giggle.
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Re: The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by gerdson » July 11th 2019, 9:47pm

Well - it was more the word "invented", that made me go off, and which is total rubbish. The question who came first, and whether presentation / bringing to the stores is the more relevant date is indeed an interesting dispute, but Zenith never "invented" the automatic chronograph, neither were they the first to ever start such a project.
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Re: The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by Hawk » July 12th 2019, 6:34am

conjurer wrote:Ficking Seiko was the first with the automatic ficking chronograph, for fick's sakes.


Well that came out of left field. You made me look it up.

https://www.plus9time.com/blog/2019/3/1 ... hronograph

At the end of the 1960’s there were multiple companies who were working on bringing an automatic chronograph to the market. The companies included Zenith as well as a collaboration between Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton-Buren and Dubois-Depraz. For more details on the Swiss companies and their developments check out the article by Jeff Stein - In-Depth How Heuer, Breitling, And Hamilton Brought The Automatic Chronograph To The World 50 Years Ago.

Concurrent with the Swiss companies developments Seiko was also designing its own automatic chronograph. The first automatic chronograph calibre from Seiko was the 6139 and it was launched in a couple of different designs each with a pair of colorways.

Frickin' colourways?! I thought the Rewster was joking for frick's sake.
The earliest example of a 6139 that I am aware of is this 6139-6010 owned by Indera Sadikin. The watch has a serial number (910149) showing it was manufactured in January 1969.


January '69, March '69 - 1969 was a busy damn year it seems.

And now, thanks to you two I'm more confused than ever. And that takes some doing given my starting point.
And the fact I'm still living rent free in his head makes me grin and giggle.
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Re: The Secrets Of The Legendary Zenith El Primero

Post by Hawk » July 12th 2019, 10:23am

conjurer wrote:Well, if it helps things along, Zenith was the first non-Japanese company to produce an automatic chronograph.


You sure?

Looks like a pretty good case has been made for the Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton-Buren and Dubois-Depraz cartel.

I feel like the proverbial country judge over here - whoever talks to me last is right.
And the fact I'm still living rent free in his head makes me grin and giggle.
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