Modern Zenith luxury watches are the culmination of a mechanical evolution that has stood the tests of time and scrutiny. The El Primo calibre, Zenith’s calling card and the powerhouse inside its most celebrated watches, is the first integrated automatic chronograph, and still the most precise movement ever made in series.
In 1909, airborne adventurer Louis Bleriot flew across the English Channel. He was the first pilot ever to do so - and he did it wearing a Zenith watch. Bleriot’s Zenith Special is now a symbol of a luxury watch brand whose history has been intimately associated with extraordinary accomplishments.
From humanity’s first tentative forays into the air, to one of its greatest. On Sunday, October 14, 2012, a man stood at the porthole-shaped door of a space capsule. His name: Felix Baumgartner. His mission: to become the first human to break the sound barrier with his own body. Jumping with him - and successfully shattering that barrier - was his Zenith El Primero Stratos Striking 10th.
Zenith’s Swiss luxury watch manufacture has always followed its own path. Its emblem, which graces the dials of every Zenith timepiece from El Primero to Academy, is the guiding star that has led Zenith watchmakers to push, again and again, at the boundaries of what is possible. Performance, technical mastery, and sheer engineering daring are expressed in every timepiece. As Louis Bleriot himself said, of that first airborne Zenith: ‘I cannot recommend it highly enough to people in search of precision’.
Bleriot’s original flight watch lives on in Zenith’s Pilot family - a collection of luxury watches whose design notes are inextricably linked to the aesthetic of the early 20th century. Academy models display the intricacies of Zenith’s mastery of complications. The Star family reimagines Zenith’s signature values of precision and beauty in sophisticated and playful anthems to womanhood. And for the lover of the timeless, there’s the endlessly elegant Elite family.
And then, of course, there’s the El Primero. The world’s first fully-integrated automatic chronograph movement now beats at the heart of an entire family of Zenith luxury watches. Decades after its introduction in 1969, El Primero remains the most precise automatic chronograph of its kind. It was so central to the Zenith story that the tools, materials and plans needed to make it were hidden during the dark days of the quartz revolution, finally resurfacing in 1984. Charles Vermot, the man who concealed them, is responsible for every El Primero watch created after 1975: and for the fact that Zenith still exists as a master creator of luxury timepieces.
From the extraordinary complexity of a Christoph Colomb Hurricane to the exquisite simplicity of an Elite, Zenith is a manufactory that expresses itself in perfection. Its adventures in haute horlogerie, each one a journey of human and mechanical achievement, have been some of the most exciting in modern history. And, as the 9 months of work required to make every El Primero movement will attest, Zenith is a luxury watch brand that delivers extraordinary attention to detail. It takes 300 expert watchmakers to complete a single El Primero - and that is why the brand with the guiding star is still leading the way in the quest for accuracy.