Watch the World’s 25 Classics Ei Primero

Last week’s Swatch Klockklassiker was that lifted the Swiss watch industry from Quartzkrisen. This week it’s time for a model that was a hair’s breadth from being lost in the crisis; El Primero.

In the sixties there was a fierce battle on two (or three…) hold on to succeed in manufacturing the first automatic chronograph. On one side the Zenith, that after having bought the organ manufacturer Martel (a specialist in complications and Chronographs) 1960 aimed to launch an automatic chronograph movement to its centenary in 1965. On the other side of a Consortium (who went under the code name Project 99) by kronografexperterna Heuer and Breitling, Cage that had produced a work of mikrorotor and the complication and modultillverkaren Dubois-Depraz (and later even Hamilton, who bought the cage in the mid-sixties). In Japan, which happily overlooked, held the Seiko on to do the same – but as the “world’s first” in the industry tend to extend to Switzerland “first”.

Who really was the first to have been rewritten to curse, but both have, in a sense, correct; Zenith had a working prototype in december 1968 where the idea was that with a bang presenting the news on the Basel fair in april next year. A rumour did, however, maintain that Project 99-group would show its contribution before the fair, Zenith prepared quickly a couple of series models that appeared on a small press conference on 10 April 1969. First on the course; “El Primero”. In contrast to the small launch selected Projects 99 companies that not only have prototypes or series of watches, but launched a full line of new models with a massive marketing campaign that began in the third March with press conferences in Geneva and New York (and later in Beirut, Tokyo and Hong Kong). During the summer of that year came the bells out in the store, and the first in the autumn could Zenith start cars and distribute their models.

Not just in the launch strategies and timing were the two– while the Chrono-Matic (which was Project 99 ‘s release name) was a mod wool solution where one of good and evil designed a device that was placed on top of an existing movement to turn it into a El Primero chronograph movement, was a dedicated and integrated color mark watches from, as well as special by its high working frequency of 36 000 vibrations per hour, which means that it can measure down to a tenth of a second.Many experts believe that the Chrono-Matic/cal 11 was a rudimentary design and shortcut, while El Primero was and is a “real” chronograph movement. It is not stopped at the “was” depends on a single person.

1975, just six years after the launch of the El Primero, quartzkrisen had struck and Zenith management decided that mechanical clocks had done his and that the tools and drawings that the company had for mechanical works would be scrapped. The watchmaker Charles Vermont was a little motvall, and picked while away all the tools but instead of doing away with them he hid them instead carefully labeled in a remote part of the factory, and carefully wrote down in a notebook of how the company would manufactured.

1982 received a request from the Zenith Ebel on mechanical colormark watches, and the El Primero-works that remained in inventory sold. The result, Ebel 1911, was a success and Zenith decided to resume the production of El Primero by using the tools that it thanks to Charles Vermont had left. 1985 began to produce the work again, and the real recognition came when Rolex 1988 launched their new Daytona, which contained a modified El Primero-works. Other renowned brands that used the work since the re-launch is Panerai, TAG Heuer, Ulysse Nardin.

During the late 80 ‘s and 90 ‘s released a number of variants of the Zenith El Primero estimated; Daytoniga Rainbow, sportive De Luca and elegant Chronomaster and Elite. The situation changed significantly when the luxury conglomerate LVMH 1999 bought Zenith and 2002 appointed Thierry Nataf as ceo. El Primero became far more expensive, bigger, vräkigare and more extreme in their design, something that the market is not really embraced. When the model would celebrate the 40 anniversary 2009 replaced Nataf thereby out as ceo at Jean-Frédéric Dufour started clearing out among Zenith more than seven hundred variants, and instead chose to concentrate on the story. The result was a line heavily inspired by the original models from 1969, complete with the probably most well-deserved tribute model ever; en El Primero to Charles Vermont’s honor.