Since its founding in 1865, Zenith has been world renowned for both exquisite design and technological innovation. While their history is marked by many moments of horological inspiration, three truly unique things stand out.
The importance of the El Primero movement
It’s been said that history is written by the victors, and that’s certainly true when it comes to the races between inventors for technological dominance—Ford vs. Ferrari, Tesla vs. Edison, Edison vs. Westinghouse (Edison’s win-at-all-costs mentality is the stuff of legends). In the world of watchmaking, there’s a race just as important and just as revolutionary—the race to develop the first ever integrated automatic chronograph movement.
The year was 1969. Several of the world’s most prominent watch manufacturers including Zenith were in hot competition to introduce the first automatic chronograph, including Seiko, Heuer, Hamilton, and Breitling. The first across the finish line, of course, was Zenith, with the legendary El Primero movement. The El Primero remains to this day the world’s most accurate series-made caliber. It beats at an astonishing, ultra-high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, much higher than the standard rate, providing unrivaled precision.
Zenith’s unparalleled, record-setting awards
If one measure of a company’s success is the number of awards they have won, then Zenith’s success is unmatched in the watch industry. Their first award for precision in watchmaking, was won in 1902.
Since then, Zenith has won an astounding 2,333 awards for precision chronometric performance in categories that run the gamut from wrist watches to pocket watches to on-board watches used in all manner of applications.
For a company that’s developed 600 movement variations, and filed 300 patents for their technological innovations, this should come as no surprise. While Zenith’s team of designers and engineers is justly proud of their achievements, they have never rested on their laurels. In fact, at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve Awards, the most prestigious of all watchmaking competitions, Zenith was awarded the Innovation Prize for their Defy Lab, the world’s most accurate mechanical watch. As a company at the forefront of Swiss watchmaking, Zenith will never stop innovating.
Durability on another level
10,000 feet above sea level, to be precise. All luxury watches are stress tested for durability, for their ability to keep accurate time under extreme conditions. With the first El Primero watches, Zenith took stress testing to new heights. Zenith engineers attached the watch, with the new El Primero caliber, to the landing gear of a Boeing 707, which then crossed the Atlantic from Paris to New York. The plane reached a height of 10,000 feet, and endured outside temperatures of -62° Celsius (that’s -79.6° Fahrenheit). The watch survived – none the worse for wear – keeping perfect time.
Not impressive enough? In 2012 an extreme skydiver named Felix Baumgartner set the world record for longest free-fall, jumping from a high-altitude capsule at an altitude of 38,949.4 meters (127,786.74 feet). Over the next 4 minutes and 19 seconds, Baumgartner fell so fast that he broke the sound barrier. Throughout the extreme stunt, the Austrian daredevil sported a Zenith El Primero Statos Flyback strapped to his wrist. Once again, the watch survived without a scratch. Zenith proved once again, a reputation for out of this world durability.
Discover the full line of award winning, record setting luxury Zenith watches at Feldmar. Browse our online store or stop into our flagship location.