Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet

By Roberta Naas /

Introducing the Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet Chronograph with Violet Movement

If you love purple, Zenith has the watch for you. The Swiss watch brand is calling it violet — the ultimate end of the color spectrum (think Roy G. Biv). After violet, the next highest frequency of light is the invisible ultraviolet light. By taking this extreme color and pairing it with Zenith’s highest frequency chronograph in production, the Defy 21, the brand brings energy and intensity to the forefront.

Defy 21 Ultraviolet

The Color Purple

 This, of course, is not unusual for Zenith. The brand has long been a pioneer and a leader when it comes to the development of advanced calibers and chronographs. It makes sense that it would combine its innovative Defy 21 watch with the color of royalty, and do so in a unique way. Instead of adding a violet dial, the band has treated its revolutionary El Primero 21 automatic movement — that beats at a high frequency of 50Hz and times to 1/100th of a second — so that many of its parts are violet. The movement colors are not all the same, some are lighter and others darker and more vibrant. The angular bridges are the most impressive, especially when seen with the three gray chronograph registers and the gray flange ring.

Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet

The Bold Look of the Defy 21 Ultraviolet

 The constantly moving white-tipped central 1/100th of a second chronograph hand, which makes a complete revolution above the dial in one second, adds drama to the watch. It is all visible via the dial (less) side — making this the first Defy 21 with an open dial and closed chronograph counters (other than the Defy 21 El Primero 50th Anniversary edition boxed set). The Defy 21 Ultraviolet Chronograph is finished with a black rubber strap with violet inserts to emulate the look of woven fabric.

Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet
Julien Tornare - CEO Zenith Watches This video is private Edit Review tools Send file Share

We Love Swiss Watches

As you’ve probably noticed by now, WATCHESPEDIA is genuinely all about watches. We are passionate about Swiss luxury timepieces.

LVMH Watch Week in Dubai

Our next adventure brings us to one of the jewels of the middle east, the Bulgari Hotel & Resorts in Dubai. Our team was invited to the very first event of its kind, the “LVMH Watch Week” here in Dubai. We were able to get a closer look at what brands like HublotTag HeuerZenith and Bulgari are up to. But more importantly, we are thrilled to have had the opportunity of conducting an exclusive interview with Julien Tornare – CEO Zenith Watches

Interview with Julien Tornare – CEO Zenith Watches

 Mr. Tornare took the time out of his busy schedule to grant us an exclusive interview with him here in Dubai during the glamorous “LVMH Watch Week.”

In this interview, Mr Tornare gives us some insight’s into the Zenith Watches brand new 2020 novelties such as the new “DEFY Classic Midnight” ladies timepiece, “Defy 21 Land Rover Edition” and the stunning “Defy 21 Carl Cox”.

Press Play

We invite you to click play below to watch this exclusive interview.

Interviewed by Pascal Grenacher

Produced by Alberic Virchaux

Copyright ©2020 WATCHESPEDIA. All Rights Reserved.

Patrick Mouratoglou

On the opening day of the Australia Open Grand Slam tournament, Zenith is proud to introduce iconic tennis coach and entrepreneur Patrick Mouratoglou as its latest Friend of the Brand.

Considered one of the most influential personalities in the world of tennis, Patrick Mouratoglou has been compelled by the world of tennis ever since he picked up a ball at the age of 6. It was his dream to become a top player, spending much of his childhood training to one day make it to the championships, but destiny had another path in store for Patrick. His parents didn’t believe that he could have a future in tennis, directed him to a more traditional education and career path. But Patrick never lost hope. So he went on to complete his education and attended business school, where he was able to sharpen his managerial acumen and build his confidence. With his innate sense for all things entrepreneurial, Patrick decided to fulfill his dream by creating the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy at 26 years old, which is now recognized as one of the most prominent tennis academies in the world.

Patrick Mouratoglou

Through his academy, Patrick has worked with a number of professional tennis players at different points in their respective careers, helping them unlock their potential and achieve great feats. After coaching and mentoring a number of players at his academy, Patrick reached new heights in 2012 when he became Serena Williams’ coach. After her first ever opening round defeat in a Grand Slam at Roland Garros, Patrick brought Serena back to the #1 spot, a position she kept for 3,5 years consecutively, where she won 2 gold medals at the Olympic Games, 10 Grand Slam titles, 3 Year-end Championships and many other titles. The “dynamic duo” is still going strong today.

“I had the pleasure of meeting Patrick for the first time at Wimbledon last year and we immediately hit it off. I was captivated by his story and his charisma and determination, which is truly the perfect analogy of what what it means to reach your star against all odds. His passion and energy fit seamlessly with the entrepreneurial spirit of Zenith“, declared Zenith CEO Julien Tornare about Patrick Mouratoglou and their fateful encounter.

Patrick’s drive, perseverance and self-made success as well as his humility and selflessness have made him a uniquely charismatic personality in the world of tennis and a widely respected businessman. Never one to back down from achieving his vision – no matter how impossible it may appear – the famed coach’s rise to stardom is an unlikely trajectory that exemplifies the Zenith ethos of “time to reach your star”, where conventions are meant to be defied and expectations exceeded.

Patrick Mouratoglou

“As a watch lover, I am truly proud to become a Friend of the Brand  for Zenith, whose run of excellence stretches as far back to 1865. ‘Time to reach your star’, the brand’s philosophy, echoes with my own story:  that of failing on my original plan and using that experience to shape my future and reach my goal — my ‘star’ — in the end, whenever the end. I am looking forward to wearing Zenith’s high-detail watches while my heart continues to skip a beat aiming for tennis’s biggest titles”, said Patrick Mouratoglou.

Besides coaching, the entrepreneur is heavily involved in other businesses in and out of the world of tennis, and seeks to inspire others through the numerous motivational speeches he gives around the world. Patrick created the Patrick Mouratoglou Foundation, which supports aspiring tennis players that do not have the financial resources to reach the top. He is also a TV personality, with his own show broadcasted across the world. Patrick takes on several roles, never one to rest on his laurels.


Zenith exists to inspire individuals to pursue their dreams and make them come true – against all odds. Since its establishment in 1865, Zenith became the first watch manufacture in the modern sense of the term, and its watches have accompanied extraordinary figures that dreamt big and strived to achieve the impossible – from Louis Blériot’s history-making flight across the English Channel to Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting stratospheric free-fall jump.

With innovation as its guiding star, Zenith features exceptional in-house developed and manufactured movements in all its watches. From the first automatic chronograph, the El Primero, to the fastest chronograph with a 1/100th of a second precision, the El Primero 21, as well as the Inventor that reinvents the regulating organ by replacing the 30+ components with a single monolithic element, the manufacture is always pushing the boundaries of what’s possible. Zenith has been shaping the future of Swiss watchmaking since 1865, accompanying those who dare to challenge themselves and break barriers. The time to reach your star is now.

Zenith El Primero - A384 Revival

El Primero A384 Revival

There are not many movements that can claim the kind of pedigree enjoyed by Zenith‘s El Primero, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year. For the first model to be equipped with the groundbreaking movement in 1969, the Zenith A384, the brand worked on a new and daring case design.

For the bracelet, they sought the expertise of the famed Gay Frères specialist company to create an original and exclusive bracelet that would match the watch’s avant-garde design. The result was the so-called “ladder” bracelet, which featured an unusual open design that boasted superior comfort and a dressier look compared to other sporty steel bracelets of the time.

Zenith El Primero - A384 Revival

Now, the coveted Ladder bracelet makes its grand return in the El Primero A384 Revival, completing the retro look and feel of the revived chronograph icon.

zenith pilot 20

On the subject of icons, Zenith’s line of Pilot watches – specifically the Type 20 collection – is an airborne legend in its own right. Based on the earliest Zenith dashboard instruments that accompanied pioneers like Louis Blériot during the dawn of aviation, the Pilot Type 20 revisits the archetypical Pilot’s Watch design, with a strong vintage accent. Yet until now, the collection has been heavily influenced by the aesthetic of such historical instruments, using a combination of aged case materials and textured colored dials to emulate an early 20th century look.

Today, Zenith has revisited its iconic Pilot’s Watch to offer the utility of a modern instrument with all the analog charm of the past.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue

The Pilot Type 20 Rescue and Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue are offered in a stainless steel case with a slate-grey sunray dial, with the signature oversized Arabic numerals entirely made out of Super-LumiNova®. From the tarmac to the cockpit, yellow is a recurring color in the world of aircrafts that grabs the attention for vital controls and information. Securing this rugged model firmly to the wrist is an aged black calfskin leather strap recalling the classic shearling leather flight jacket, with rivets and a titanium pin buckle as well as a distinctive tab recalling those seen on vintage pilot helmets.

Zenith Defy Land Rover watch

New Creation for LVMH Watch Week – Dubai 2020: The DEFY 21 Land Rover Edition

When two partners who are pioneers in their respective fields come together, the results can be unexpected and exciting. Coinciding with the release of the next-generation Land Rover Defender, a total redesign of the emblematic, all-terrain vehicle with its most significant evolution to date, Zenith and the famed British carmaker are reinforcing their partnership with their most original collaborative watch to date: the DEFY 21 Land Rover Edition.

Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover

This edition is a rugged and stealthy reinterpretation of the 21st century El Primero high-frequency chronograph, embodying the resilient spirit of the new Land Rover Defender that combines the ultimate in ruggedness and comfort. A limited edition of 250 pieces, it represents a complete makeover of the 1/100th of a second chronograph with a raw and minimalistic look. Crafted in microblasted titanium, the case absorbs light from all angles to better accentuate its faceted surfaces.

Paired with a matching closed grey dial, the redesigned display features for the first time in a DEFY 21 a linear power reserve window, with the slightest touches of color for legibility.

Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Creative Officer, said: “For the next chapter in our partnership with Zenith we wanted a timepiece that captured the essence of the new Land Rover Defender: modern, durable and highly desirable. With subtle details that capture the character of the new Defender, this for me is the best timepiece we have created with Zenith”.

Zenith Defy 21 Carl Cox

New Creations for LVMH Watch Week – Dubai 2020: DEFY 21 Carl Cox

With respect to exceptional collaborations, Zenith is proud to introduce its newest Friend of the Brand, world-renowned DJ and producer Carl Cox and the new Defy 21 Carl Cox watch. An undisputed living legend in electronic music and specifically “techno”, Carl Cox is credited with bringing his craft to new heights and his unique sound to a global audience.

From underground rave parties in the 80s to main stage performances at festivals and his own stage at Burning Man as well as his pioneering record label, Carl Cox lives the “time to reach your star” philosophy to the fullest. His perseverance and undeniable talent have propelled him from his humble beginnings to becoming one of the most revered and influential personalities in the world of electronic music.

Zenith Defy 21 Carl Cox watches

For his first eponymous special edition watch, the DEFY 21 Carl Cox, limited to 200 pieces, Zenith turned up the tempo with a special execution of its futuristic 1/100th of a second chronograph, with a carbon fiber bezel and strap stitching that glow in the dark. For a very personal touch by Carl Cox, the open dial keeps the beat pumping with a rotating disk shaped like a vinyl record at 9 o’clock, serving as a running seconds indicator.

“I am very lucky that I am able to share my love of music all over the world. All of us have the power within us to feel the beat and dance – my job is to bring that energy out and to unite everyone on the dancefloor. In a similar way, Zenith is about elevating the art of watchmaking and sharing its innovations with the world, so collaborating with them on a watch with a high-frequency beat felt very natural”, said Carl Cox.

Zenith Elite Moonphase 36mm

Exploring Two Sides of Femininity

With its new creations dedicated entirely to women, Zenith is elevating both ends of the spectrum of women’s watches. On one side, the timelessly elegant Elite collection and on the other, the resolutely contemporary DEFY Midnight.

Zenith revisits its own past from the vantage point of today, with the newly revamped Elite collection of unisex watches. Sleeker, more minimalistic, yet strong in its graphic identity and confident in its timeless lines and proportions, the Elite collection doesn’t repeat the past, but rather rejuvenates the codes of mid-20th century watchmaking. Through two models available in two sizes and a number of case and dial combinations, the Elite Classic and Moonphase models set the tone for Zenith’s vision of contemporary elegance. The line caters to the desires of those who value the aesthetics and enduring appeal of  Zenith Elite watches from bygone eras, with just enough modern accents to ensure it never feels antiquated.

Zenith Elite Classic

Like rays of light darting out from the sun, the radiant sunburst pattern of the Elite Classic dial creates a spectacle of highlights and shadows. To enhance the visual depth, the dial is set with tapered hour markers that are faceted and polished. The minutes and seconds track lend the dial a scientific touch, while slightly larger applied hour markers break up the track and highlight the four cardinal points of the dial. Floating above the lively dial are sharp and slim “Dauphine” shaped hands, a nostalgic nod to Zenith timepieces from mid-20th century.

Zenith Elite Moonphase 36mm

The Elite Moonphase, majestic in its tones and whimsical in its harmonious asymmetry, uncovers the veil of night to bring out the enchanting beauty of the moon. A midnight blue circle on the lower half of the sunburst pattern dial takes on the same tone as the moonphase disk, giving the impression of an oversized display of the golden moon and stars. In juxtaposition, a small running seconds hand at 9 o’clock recalls the fleeting nature of time.

Zenith Elite Duo

Carefully reapplying the same elegant proportions across the collection, the Elite Classic and Elite Moonphase models are available in 40.5mm and 36mm case diameters, in stainless steel or rose gold. Besides the choice of dial colors, the wearer can give his or her Elite a more personal touch with a wide choice of straps in numerous materials and colors, available from Zenith boutiques and authorized retailers.

Zenith Defy Midnight

Zenith Places Women in the Spotlight in Dubai at the Inaugural Edition of LVMH Watch Week – Dubai 2020

Zenith embarks on the debut edition of LVMH Watch Week with a new kind of innovation in its DEFY collection with DEFY Midnight, a uniquely conceived line of women’s watches with a dreamy, cosmic touch. In addition, the new Elite collection redefines the codes of 21st century watchmaking for the ultimate in contemporary elegance.

“I’m very grateful that Zenith is in Dubai for the first edition of LVMH Watch Week – DUBAI 2020, which I believe is the new international destination for the world of watchmaking. Glamorous and forward-thinking at the same time, Dubai is the perfect place to present an innovative collection of feminine watches. We are placing women’s watches at the forefront of the brand’s creative endeavors. But we weren’t content with making yet another ladies’ watch. With our newest models, it is the first time that Zenith has conceived women’s watches from the ground up”, revealed Zenith CEO Julien Tornare.

Zenith Defy Midnight

Exploring Two Sides of Femininity

With its new creations dedicated entirely to women, Zenith is elevating both ends of the spectrum of women’s watches. On one side, the resolutely contemporary DEFY Midnight and on the other, the timelessly elegant Elite collection.

There is dreamer in each of us, gazing at the starry night sky and taking in the infinite potential that lies ahead. For its first purely feminine watch, Zenith sought inspiration from the cosmos when creating the DEFY Midnight, a versatile sporty-chic timepiece with a uniquely celestial dial, conceived with free-spirited women in mind. As much a jewel as it is a watch, the DEFY Midnight is the perfect companion for the independent women of today: confident, expressive and with a style of their own. Living by their own rules and assertive in their choices, DEFY Midnight women are never afraid to stand out and project their dreams.

Zenith Defy Midnight

Housed in a 36mm stainless steel case embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds, the dial of the DEFY Midnight gives Zenith’s “time to reach your star” philosophy a literal, visual manifestation. Available in deep blue or grey colors, the dial features a glossy finish with a vertical gradient effect for an unprecedented depth. Portraying the night sky above the endless horizon, where the dark vastness of space gives way to the glimmer of starlight, the dial at once enchants and enlightens the wearer.

Evoking the Zenith starry sky, the brand’s faceted star emblem is the highest, brightest point in the depicted night sky. Completing the celestial landscape are stars of different sizes – some of which glow in the dark. A third dial made of white mother-pearl with a vertical gradient effect evokes moonlight on a cloudy night. White diamonds are applied on every hour marker, except at 3 o’clock where the date window is placed. Equipped with the automatic Elite in-house movement, the DEFY Midnight provides dependable precision and autonomy of 50 hours. A star-shaped oscillating weight brings a galactic element to the case-back view.

Zenith Defy Midnight

The DEFY Midnight features an assortment of bracelets and straps that can easily be swapped by the wearer, allowing the DEFY Midnight to adapt itself to different looks and situations. The integrated stainless steel bracelet as well as a selection of colored satin and leather straps with rubber backing can be swapped by means of a quick strap-change mechanism integrated directly onto the back of the straps, and requiring no tools or special skills for the owner to do on her own, be it for a change of seasons or just a change of outfit. Each DEFY Midnight will come in a special box that includes 3 additional colored straps and an interchangeable folding clasp.


2019 has been a monumental year for the El Primero, the world’s first high-frequency automatic chronograph. For its 50th anniversary, Zenith embarked on a yearlong celebration that took on different fronts. The star-led brand brought back iconic El Primero pieces through its Revival series, and set off on its “Grenier Club” world-tour where press, clients and friends of the brand joined the festivities in unexpected locations around the globe. Finally, over the course of several days and numerous high-profile events in the watchmaking capital of Geneva, the El Primero 50th Anniversary celebration came to a spectacular end.

With watch collectors from all over the world gathered in Geneva for the various auctions and horological happenings in town, Zenith had two unique interpretations of historical El Primero models up for grabs at two auctions, with both watches benefitting charitable causes.

At Phillips’ “Geneva Watch Auction X” at La Reserve, the unique and only El Primero A386 ever to be made in a platinum case and lapis lazuli dial, a precious reinterpretation of the iconic A386, was sold after intense bidding for the sum of CHF 250’000. Proceeds from the sale of this unique commemorative piece will go to Zoe4Life, a Swiss non-profit organization, part of the Childhood Cancer International network.

On the other side of Geneva at the Hotel des Bergues, Christie’s conducted the 2019 edition of the biennial Only Watch charity auction. For this cause, Zenith created a unique El Primero A386 Revival in steel with a special one-off dial, reinterpreting the emblematic tri-color chronograph registers with a touch of sky-blue – the official color of Only Watch 2019. The unique piece sold for CHF 75’000, with the entire sum benefitting the Association Monégasque.

Grenier Club – a global celebration

Coinciding with the 50th anniversary of the El Primero, Zenith had set out on its Grenier Club world tour since the start of the year to celebrate the occasion. Each month, the Grenier Club event was held in a different city, where 50 local guests are invited to join the celebration in unique settings such as iconic landmarks and contemporary art museums and galleries, among others. Named after the attic where Charles Vermot hid the plans for the El Primero, the Grenier Club celebrates the past while toasting to the future of the revered calibre’s ever-growing legacy. Joining some of the events was Michel Vermont, who passionately shared inspirational anecdotes about his father and the makers of the El Primero, who strived for innovation against all odds – much like Zenith today. Geneva was a symbolic final stop in the Grenier Club world tour, where both local and international guests celebrated the golden jubilee of the first high-frequency automatic chronograph calibre in Zenith’s native Switzerland.

Charles Vermot – Venerating a Hero

A proper celebration of the El Primero simply wouldn’t be complete without paying tribute to the man who has become synonymous with the venerable calibre: Charles Vermot.

Vermot was one of the original watchmakers who worked on the first batches of the El Primero movement when it was first introduced 50 years ago. You could call him a spiritual father of the venerated calibre. When the decision was taken to halt the production of the El Primero in 1975 during the advent of the quartz movement, Vermot took it upon himself to safeguard the El Primero for future generations, in the hope that one day Zenith would bring the exceptional movement back into production. Working in total secrecy, Charles Vermot had the ingenious idea to gather all the technical plans and tools necessary to produce each and every component of the El Primero movement and tuck them away in hidden walled-off section of the Zenith manufacture’s attic. Like a time capsule waiting to be discovered, the attic was a living memory of the El Primero and the guardian of its future. A Decade later, Vermot’s valiant act would serve as the first building block in bringing the El Primero back to life. Visitors of the Zenith manufacture can also step inside the immortalized attic and embark on a journey through time in the Monde Étoilé interactive tour.

A real-life superhero, Zenith chose to immortalize Vermot’s courageous act with the ultimate tangible memorabilia of the El Primero 50th Anniversary. Calling upon the talents of Swiss comic book author Cosey, Zenith produced a series of vintage-styled comics that tell the tale of how Vermot’s act of rebellion ended up saving the El Primero for future generations. The original drawings from the book will be on display at the manufacture, and a digital version will be available on the Zenith website.

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 architectural DEFY Inventor watch with its unique, ultra-thin monolithic oscillator that replaces the 30+ components of a standard regulating organ, 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 serially produced automatic chronograph calibre “El Primero”, beating at the high rate of 36,000 VpH. 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.

Zenith El Primero A386 Revival - Steel

Earlier this Fall, Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo announced the presentation of a unique Zenith El Primero Ref. 386 in platinum. The first of three models created in collaboration with Zenith, this pièce unique will be sold this weekend by Phillips during The Geneva Watch Auction X on November 9, with proceeds from the sale donated to the ZOE4LIFE foundation. Known as the “One-Off”, the watch will be the only Ref. A386 that Zenith will ever make in PT 950 platinum, and is the first of its kind to feature a breathtaking Lapis Lazuli dial.

Following the presentation of the “One-Off”, Zenith and Phillips decided to pursue their collaboration by sitting down again to create two more El Primero Ref. A386 chronographs, limited to 69 pieces in total, in honor of the birth year of the El Primero caliber. It was an honor for Phillips to be put into the designer’s seat, and work with a watchmaker that has on more than one occasion revolutionized the way watches are made.

Zenith El Primero A386 Revival – Yellow Gold

Since they felt it was impossible to create watches that would fully encapsulate the El Primero’s rich and beautiful history, Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant at Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, Head of Watches Continental Europe & Middle East for Phillips, decided instead to turn back the clock and imagine themselves in Le Locle, in 1969, in the shoes of the manufacturer’s designers.

The world’s first automatic column-wheel high-frequency chronograph has just been developed and is about to be unveiled to the world. What would the design be? The result is an extraordinary yellow gold El Primero Ref. A386 with a stunning black dial with gold sub-registers and gold printing – a contrast that is beloved in the watch collecting community, and unlike anything previously made by Zenith.

Zenith El Primero A386 Revival – Yellow Gold

For the stainless steel version, Phillips’ team was inspired by color schemes characteristic of fashionable textiles and popular interior design during the 60s. The iconic overlapping registers of the first ever Zenith El Primero Ref. A386 remain, but brown terracotta tones replace the grey, dark grey and blue of the original dial.

The launch, in Geneva, of the two limited edition Zenith El Primero Ref. A386 for Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, marks the final stop of the El Primero 50th Anniversary World Tour celebrating the watchmaker’s revolutionary chronograph across five continents.

Zenith El Primero A386 Revival - Steel

The watches will be offered individually to clients, the steel model will be offered on a leather strap and a ladder bracelet reminiscent of the bracelets made by Gay-Frères for Zenith back in the day. However, the winning bidder of the “One-Off” Zenith El Primero A386 in platinum will be given right of first refusal to the yellow gold and stainless steel limited editions, in order to have the opportunity to acquire all three models made for Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo, and completing a unique trilogy in three different case metals.

Zenith El Primero Limited Edition Trilogy

Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant Bacs & Russo and Alex Ghotbi, Head of Watches Continental Europe & Middle East, enthusiastically declared: “It was fascinating to sit on a time-machine, go back to 1969 and put ourselves in the shoes of Zenith designers and management, designing the dials of what would become one the most iconic movements ever created. We did not want to create an homage-piece but a watch whose design would have been in the Zenith archives since 1969. It was a true pleasure and honor to work with Zenith’s management and designers to create what for us is: a truly unique experience.

Zenith CEO Julien Tornare said: “Watching how the teams at Zenith and Phillips clicked the way they did on the 50th Anniversary El Primero project was amazing. With all this creativity and passion bouncing back and forth between the two, we had to find a way to prolong the collaboration. The result is the Zenith x Phillips collection, developed and designed with and for Phillips. It consists of two editions, one in gold (20 watches) and the other in steel (49 watches). We couldn’t resist: adding up the production runs gives you the year the El Primero was born; and both in their own way draw on the El Primero’s rich heritage while creating modern classics in their own right.”

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.”