Zenith El Primero

The highlight of this year’s must-attend auction for watch aficionados and collectors from around the world was when the gavel fell for the highest bid on the one-off El Primero chronograph. The first and only Zenith A386 reference to be made of platinum, this unique El Primero was designed by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Zenith’s history-making timepiece.

The exceptional moment was all the more noteworthy as the proceeds went to benefit Zoe4Life, a Swiss non-profit that is part of the Childhood Cancer International network. The event crowns the Zenith El Primero 50th Anniversary celebrations throughout 2019, which included a World Tour across 5 continents – culminating in a gala show on the eve of the auction – to celebrate the first automatic integrated chronograph in watchmaking history introduced by Zenith in 1969.

The gala event held on the eve of the auction at Geneva’s fabled La Réserve resort on 8 November presented the perfect occasion for setting the stage. The select circle of around 300 guests, great collectors, friends and journalists were invited on a fascinating tour of the year 1969 moderated by none other than Nick Foulkes, author and horological connoisseur of taste extraordinaire.

Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, peppered his account of the extraordinary journey behind the making of the El Primero legend with memorable anecdotes. If the show performed by Romain the Illusionist had everybody spellbound in their seats, the standing ovation for the makers of the El Primero made for a truly magical experience as well.

An especially touching moment: Charles Vermot, the man without whose engineering genius and determination there would be no El Primero, was represented by his son Michel who graciously accepted the applause. It was the perfect lead-in for the pièce de resistance: the unveiling of the one-off 50th Anniversary El Primero in platinum by Zenith CEO Julien Tornare and Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant of Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo, auctioned at The Geneva Watch Auction X. Met with the same applause moments later was this announcement by Julien Tornare: the proceeds of the winning bid at the auction would go to Zoe4Life, a Swiss non-profit that is part of the Childhood Cancer International network.

Amid the cheers came the encore: Aurel Bacs took center stage to present two Zenith El Primero limited editions designed by Phillips, one in yellow gold limited to 20 pieces, the other in stainless steel kept at 49 pieces. Together, the production runs of these two exclusive watches created for the renowned auction house rarities in creations add up to 69 pieces, in reference to 1969, the year the legend was born.

Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith said: “All of us at Zenith are so proud to be part of the still unfolding legend that began 50 years ago with the first (El Primero!) automatic integrated chronograph in watchmaking history. As we set out at the beginning of 2019 to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of an icon, we never imagined the interest and goodwill that would come our way.

Working with the passionate team at Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo, and seeing the vision of an El Primero worthy of this historic moment become reality was a uniquely rewarding experience for all of us at Zenith. Just as the simple and wonderful fact that the star of Zenith could also shine for a cause as important as helping kids battle cancer through Zoé4life,”

Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, Head of Watches, Continental Europe and Middle East jointly declared: “It was an absolute honor to have been contacted by Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith Watches who announced that he wanted to entrust Phillips with the sale of a unique El Primero in celebration of the iconic movement’s 50th anniversary and whose proceeds would be given to Zoé4Life, a charitable organization dedicated to the well-being of children with cancer.

The cherry on the cake was when we were invited to Le Locle to participate in the creative and design of the piece, an eye opening endeavor that enabled us to experience the talent and passion of the Zenith management and design teams and learn about the complexity and challenges that watch manufactures come by day to day. We are incredibly proud to have been associated with this incredible project for a worthy cause.”

El Primero A386 Revival « Fine Watch Club Edition »

For its second opus, the Fine Watch Club, the first international club for multi brand watch owners, will offer its members this October, one of the most iconic pieces in Swiss watchmaking: The El Primero. More than a movement, a calibre, or a model, this watch and movement has become almost a brand of its own and a unique story in watchmaking.

El Primero is the mouthpiece of the Zenith manufacture. Since 1865, the movement has accumulated 2,333 awards for its chronometry. Mechanical precision is at the heart of its DNA, and the El Primero is in a constant quest for that precision. With the capability of beating at 36,000VpH per hour ever since 1969, this calibre has been at the heart of the manufacture’s collections as well as that of other brands, such as the inevitable Cosmograph Daytona from Rolex, of which the first vibrations were powered by the El Primero.

24 pieces for members of the Fine Watch Club

Today, the Zenith Revival series in precious metals that celebrates the legendary movement’s 50th anniversary is sold out. It’s for this reason that the brand has created with the Fine Watch Club a limited edition of 24 pieces of its emblematic A386: the “Zenith El Primero A386 Revival Fine Watch Club Edition”. This exclusive iteration of the capsule collection is a reminder of the popularity of this watchmaking legend still widespread among collectors, in the quest of a horological myth, a sort of Holy Grail. The Fine Watch Club edition opens a door into a tight-knit circle of collectors who look for what others don’t have; a watch only they can possess.

El Primero A386 Revival « Fine Watch Club Edition »

For the first time, this model features a bronzed “tobacco” dial. The piece is paired with a leather or alligator strap of a similar shade. For the dial, purists will appreciate the three variations of the iconic blue/grey counters, the famous “tri-compax” dial layout that made its mark on watchmaking history. The piece preserves its sports chic aesthetic with a 38mm case in stainless steel that anchors its functionality in sports.
At 4:30, Zenith kept the date window that you can find on its models dating back 50 years. Classy and elegant, the Zenith El Primero A386 Revival Fine Watch Club Edition is destined for those who want to sport 50 years of watchmaking heritage.

Heavy-duty time

Versatile and elegant, the El Primero united trends of its time. The incarnation of absolute precision in the 20th century, the movement entered the 21st century by becoming visible through an open dial showcasing the escapement and by defying its own standards (El Primero Defy 21 with a 1/100th of a second chronograph movement).

El Primero A386 Revival « Fine Watch Club Edition »
Initially introduced in 1969 in Baselworld’s Hall 1.0, the movement took the industry by storm for its frequency, beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour, setting a new standard few could meet. And this world premiere movement? It was housed in the reference A386, a watch with a bold dial design with three different coloured subdials and an angled date at 4:30. Back then, a completely modern take on the chronograph design, the A386 is now a highly sought-after model on the vintage market.

The El Primero remains lauded for what it represents in watchmaking history as well as for its technical achievements. The fact that it can measure up to one tenth of a second makes it precise enough for the majority of cases. Anything more than that can be, and has been, measured using electronic instruments, and the El Primero remains the modern-day de facto leader in pure mechanical chronometry.

Flying pioneer and new ZENITH friend of the brand Franky Zapata reaches his star

Personifying the key ZENITH values of determination and perseverance against all odds, Franky Zapata has successfully completed his second attempt at a unique solo flight from France to England. At the joystick of his legendary jet-propelled Flyboard Air, and with a Zenith Type 20 Chronograph Adventure watch strapped to his wrist, the super flying man and new ZENITH friend of the brand thereby vividly commemorated the 110th anniversary of Louis Bleriot’s historic 1909 flight across the English Channel.

Flying pioneer and new ZENITH friend of the brand Franky Zapata reaches his star

ZENITH stands for pushing the limits of feasibility and inspiring one and all to reach for their star, whatever the difficulties or obstacles encountered. Zapata’s impressive athleticism, trailblazing attitude reflect these intrinsic qualities, as does his ability to remain undaunted by challenges and learn from each new experience. While Bleriot’s repeated previous failures had led him to be dubbed “the king of wrecks” until he finally crossed the Channel in 1909, Zapata required just two attempts to achieve this particular dream. Fittingly, he was wearing the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure, a watch symbolising the unswerving determination that propels Zenith and its followers towards their very own star.

Flying pioneer and new ZENITH friend of the brand Franky Zapata reaches his star

Indomitable character and determination

The sturdy Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure with its signature user-friendly wide ratcheted crown is driven by an automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph movement and delivers a 50-hour power reserve. Its highly legible grained khaki green dial features oversized Arabic numerals entirely made of Super-LumiNova®, while its bronze 45 mm case is secured to the wrist by a khaki matrix calfskin leather strap or a fully-interchangeable camouflage fabric alternative. All of which made it an indomitable partner for this new technological and intensely human accomplishment.

Flying pioneer and new ZENITH friend of the brand Franky Zapata reaches his star

ZENITH: the future of Swiss watchmaking

With innovation as its guiding star, Zenith features exceptional in-house developed and manufactured movements in all its watches, such as the DEFY Inventor with its monolithic oscillator of exceptional precision, and the DEFY El Primero 21 with its high-frequency 1/100th of a second chronograph. Since its establishment in 1865, Zenith has consistently redefined the notions of precision and innovation, including the first “Pilot Watch” at the dawn of aviation and the first serially produced “El Primero” automatic chronograph calibre. Always one step ahead, Zenith is writing a new chapter in its unique legacy by setting new standards of performance and inspired design. Zenith is here to shape the future of Swiss watchmaking, accompanying those who dare to challenge time itself and reach for the stars.


Driven by a desire for perpetual innovation and the creation of timeless icons, Zenith has been steering its own course since its foundation over 150 years ago. With a unique blend of past, present and future aesthetics, each of its collections embody a different spirit. And while men have traditionally enjoyed the attention of watchmakers, Zenith is here to prove that iconic designs look just as good – if not better – on the wrists of confident, daring and stylish women.

Sporty in White

White is usually synonymous with delicate, but that’s not the case with the DEFY Classic. Its bright white ceramic case is incredibly durable, and its intense white tone is embedded in the material and will never fade or tarnish with time and wear. With bold geometric lines and a futuristic overtone with its open, layered display, the DEFY Classic White Ceramic goes from sporty to chic without a flinch. Whether soaking up some sun on a coastal summer getaway or roaming a modern metropolis, the DEFY Classic White Ceramic is a show-stopping piece for all seasons.

Ladies, Zenith has you covered this Summer

The Urban Dweller

For the free-spirited woman with a keen sense of bold, adventurous style, the Type 20 Pilot is the perfect companion. Something of a watchmaking icon, Zenith’s emblematic aviation-themed watch looks as striking today as the watch that inspired it a century ago did. Reimagined in an easily wearable 40mm bronze case paired with a satin-brushed black dial, its oversized numerals provide a racy accent with a touch of old-world charm, true to Zenith’s pioneering spirit. The timeless appeal and rugged yet elegant silhouette of the Pilot makes it an incredibly versatile timepiece, perfectly suited for whatever adventure you throw its way – from the workplace to a workout and everything in between.

Ladies, Zenith has you covered this Summer

Elegantly Retro

Some icons are truly forever. Groundbreaking at its introduction and still outstanding today, the A386 El Primero Revival pays tribute to a Zenith chronograph icon by reproducing the 60s classic faithfully, right down to the smallest detail. From a night out in a cocktail dress to just keeping it cozy and casual, the El Primero A386 Revival’s enduring combination of a precious rose gold case in timelessly elegant proportions and distinctly retro multicolored counters on the dial make it a staple go-to piece.

Ladies, Zenith has you covered this Summer

ZENITH Fusée Tourbillon Carbon Watch

Since the dawn of precision timekeeping, watchmakers have sought to produce timepieces that offer unfaltering performance through the use of “constant force”. Zenith reinterprets the fusee & chain constant force mechanism in a modernistic style in the new DEFY Fusee Tourbillon. Housing the new El Primero 4805 SK calibre, a manual-winding movement that follows the DEFY code of avant-garde movement architecture with an open three-dimensional impact, the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon is available in two distinct editions in Carbon and Platinum.

A New Vision of Haute Horlogerie

Upon a first glance, it’s immediately clear that the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon’s calibre is out of the ordinary. The spoke design of the bridges is amplified by their bicolor finish, where the top satin-finished surface is given a black treatment, while its polished sides are a lighter grey rhodium tone. The layout of the bridges offers a balanced layout of the various functions and complications. On the top half of the movement, one can admire the uniquely conceived fusee and chain constant force mechanism. The chain, which consists of 575 individually hand-assembled components, features a bold blued treatment: a first for a wristwatch fusee and chain system. On the opposite end at 6 o’clock, a tourbillon cage with an entirely new construction featuring an off-centered balance wheel makes a full rotation every 60 seconds. Like the chain, the tourbillon cage is embellished with a striking blue colour, reinforcing the visual effect of the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon’s unique moving parts. Positioned at the edge of the dial between 4 and 5 o’clock, a red-tipped hand indicates the power reserve, a handy feature when manually winding the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon with its 50-hour power reserve.

One extraordinary movement – two entirely different executions

As a mechanical movement’s mainspring unwinds, the torque it delivers to the regulating organ drops, resulting in less efficient chronometric performance of the movement. A centuries-old solution to counter this and achieve constant force lies within the power source and its transmission. Known as the “fusee and chain” system, it features miniature chain is coiled around a conical “fusee” and attached to the mainspring barrel. As the mainspring unwinds, more of the chain wraps around the barrel, detaching itself from the wide conical base of the fusee. The greater turning movement provided by the fusee compensates the weakening mainspring pull, thus maintaining the torque and, consequently, the amplitude of the regulating organ constant throughout the duration of the mainspring’s autonomy.

By combining the fusee and chain mechanism with a tourbillon regulating organ, Zenith places precision at the forefront of its unique take on haute horlogerie. Highlighting the unique technical and aesthetic prowess of the piece, the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon is produced in two different editions. The first version features a light yet robust carbon case, crown and buckle head. The carbon fibre treatment even extends to the open dial, with the central skeletal element and surrounding flange ring giving off the unique shimmer of this material. To complete the high-tech look, the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon in carbon is fitted on a black rubber strap with a “Cordura” fabric effect and blue stitching. A second strap is also supplied, in black rubber with a woven carbon effect. The DEFY Fusee Tourbillon in carbon is limited to 50 pieces. The second version of the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon, limited to just 10 pieces, is crafted in platinum. The exposed movement provides a vibrant, voluminous view, where the mix of materials and tones add visual depth, from the anthracite base plate of the movement to the blued chain and tourbillon cage topped with a set of geometrical bridges in two tones. The strap is made of a black rubber core coated with black alligator leather. While each version will appeal to a different kind of forward-thinking watch aficionado, one thing is certain: the DEFY Fusee Tourbillon solidifies Zenith’s position as a leader in building the future of watchmaking.



UNIQUE SELLING POINTS Full Carbon model: Case, crown and buckle head Exclusive combination : Tourbillon Fusee-Chain Calibre Chain made of 575 components Manual winding El Primero Tourbillon with Fusée-Chain escapement Constant force fusée-chain transmission connected to the barrel

MOVEMENT Movement El Primero 4805 SK, Manual Calibre 161⁄2“` (Diameter: 37 mm) Movement thickness: 5.9 mm Components: 807 Exclusive bicolor signature on plates and bridges Jewels: 34 Frequency: 36,000 VpH (5 Hz) Power-reserve approx.: 50 hours

FUNCTIONS Hours and minutes in the centre Tourbillon: – The carriage is positioned at 6 o’clock – The carriage makes one turn per minute Power-reserve indication between 4 and 5 o’clock Fusée-chain transmission connected to the barrel

CASE, DIAL & HANDS Diameter: 44 mm Diameter opening: 36.5 mm Thickness: 13.35 mm Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal Material: Black carbon Water-resistance: 10 ATM Dial: Carbon Openworked Hour-markers: Transferred Hands: Black ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1

STRAP & BUCKLE Strap: Black rubber with black rubber “cordura effect” Buckle: Titanium double folding clasp with black carbon head



UNIQUE SELLING POINTS Exclusive combination: Tourbillon Fusee-Chain Calibre Chain made of 575 components Manual winding El Primero Tourbillon with Fusée-Chain escapement Constant force fusée-chain transmission connected to the barrel

MOVEMENT Movement El Primero 4805 SK, Manual Calibre 161⁄2“` (Diameter: 37 mm) Movement thickness: 5.9 mm Components: 807 Exclusive bicolor signature on plates and bridges Jewels: 34 Frequency: 36,000 VpH (5 Hz) Power-reserve approx.: 50 hours

FUNCTIONS Hours and minutes in the centre Tourbillon: – The carriage is positioned at 6 o’clock – The carriage makes one turn per minute Power-reserve indication between 4 and 5 o’clock Fusée-chain transmission connected to the barrel

CASE, DIAL & HANDS Diameter: 44 mm Diameter opening: 36.5 mm Thickness: 13.35 mm Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal Material: Platinum 950 Water-resistance: 10 ATM Dial: Openworked Hour-markers: Transferred Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1

STRAPS & BUCKLES Strap: Black rubber with black alligator leather coating Buckle: Titanium & white gold double folding clasp

This year, at Baselworld 2018, we were kindly invited by Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith.

Julien Tornare has been active for nearly two decades in the watchmaking sector; he initially worked at Raymond Weil for two years before spending the last 17 years at Vacheron Constantin.

First as market Head for Switzerland, subsequently as the Brand’s US Director, and most recently as Managing Director for Asia-Pacific, the region where he helped grow the number of boutiques from 3 to 13.

Julien Tornare is now focusing on the renewal of Zenith which deserves a return to a centre-stage role.

His vision is to rejuvenate and inject new energy through innovation, a quality firmly embedded in the DNA and history of a 153 year-old yet undeniably contemporary brand driven by a youthful start-up spirit.

We discussed, on location, at their booth in Baselworld 2018, the brand’s heritage, the brand’s values, this year’s novelties and more.

From the world-famous El, primero movement to today’s brand new Defy collection. Click play now and listen to this exclusive interview if you’ve always wanted to know how 153 year old watch brand, is embracing their startup spirit.


Interviewed by Alberic Virchaux

Absolute transparency ensuring unobstructed views of cutting-edge Zenith mechanics: the Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot offers a futuristic take on Haute Horlogerie. Its powerful design and innovative materials reveal an unprecedented ‘engine’ – El Primero Calibre 4805 – combining two iconic complications from the Manufacture: the tourbillon and a fusee and chain transmission system. Issued in a 150-piece limited edition featuring a 45 mm-diameter black ceramic case, this sophisticated watch fully reveals the contemporary architecture of its high-frequency heart.

Eloquently expressing the comprehensive manufacturing expertise cultivated by Zenith, the Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot flaunts its mechanism in an entirely transparent manner. Its virile black ceramic case houses a new El Primero movement equipped with a tourbillon as well as a fusée and chain transmission system. These two horological complications, both specialities of the brand with the guiding star, are thus united for the first time in a Zenith high-frequency movement. The dial-free hand-wound El Primero Calibre 4805 provides a perfect picture of its magnificent mechanisms and its powerful architecture. An authentic technical and aesthetic feat stemming from a lengthy process of research and design affording an unprecedented view of the movement structure.

Contemporary virtuosity

The manufacturing expertise of Zenith and its resolutely future-oriented mindset are entirely in tune with the genetic heritage cultivated by the Maison for more than 150 years. Zenith’s brilliant founder, Georges Favre-Jacot, instilled a pioneering spirit into the firm by creating one of the first industrial watch manufacturing facilities in 1865. This resolutely technical approach driven by a sense of daring has now given rise to the Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot watch, issued in a 150-piece limited edition. Haute Horlogerie meets modernity in this remarkable fusée and chain tourbillon model, equipped with the new high-frequency El Primero Calibre 4805, entirely developed and produced in-house by Zenith. While its famous name and its fast cadence of 36,000 vibrations per hour recall the legendary chronograph created by Zenith in 1969, this original new ‘engine’ also features a majestic tourbillon coupled with a fusée and chain transmission system linked to the barrel so as to ensure constant force.

Limpid darkness

A fascinating compendium of watchmaking technologies, this 807-part hand-wound movement is composed of modern, well-structured lines. The dial-free Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot with its generously sized 45 mm-diameter black ceramic case turns the spotlight on its tourbillon placed at 6 o’clock and on its fusée and train transmission system between 10.30 and 1.30. Secured to the mainplate by polished screws, three blackened bridges support the fusée and barrel arbors, while the tourbillon carriage performs one rotation per minute. The central hours and minutes functions are shown on a ring swept over by luminescent black facetted hands and hour-markers. The more than 50-hour power reserve is displayed between 4 and 5 o’clock by a red-tipped hand moving between “High” and “Low” indications. Visible both on the display side and through the sapphire crystal case-back, the mainplate and bridges are coated with a deep anthracite colour adorned with alternating sandblasted, hand-chamfered and straight-grained finishes.

Water-resistant to 50 metres, the Academy Tourbillon Georges Favre-Jacot is fitted with a perforated rubber strap secured by a PVD-coated titanium triple folding clasp and issued in a 150-piece limited edition. Another 150-piece rose gold limited-edition version is also available. A new chapter in the Zenith saga is thus being written in unmistakably modern ink.