|Year of production (circa)||
Original box & service papers
Zenith El Primero Ref. A386
El Primero, the enigmatic line by Zenith. In 1969, there was a race to create the first automatic chronograph, leading to collaborations between numerous companies. Zenith proudly claims to be the pioneers in this endeavor, hence the name ‘El Primero’, translating to ‘The First’ in Spanish, signifying the very first line of chronographs.
This particular Zenith El Primero timepiece, a true embodiment of this legacy, is now available for acquisition. Exuding a sense of timeless elegance, this watch encapsulates the craftsmanship and heritage of a bygone era. Crafted from stainless steel, it represents a classic aesthetic that transcends time.
With origins dating back to 1971, this vintage treasure carries within it a wealth of history and narratives that have unfolded over the decades. It’s a symbol of vintage allure, seamlessly melding classic design with enduring craftsmanship.
Moreover, this Zenith El Primero is accompanied by its original box and papers, adding a layer of provenance to its story. This component further enhances its value as a collector’s item and a cherished piece of history.
The El Primero movement holds an esteemed place in the horological world. Renowned for its precision and reliability, it has made its mark on various timepieces, including Rolex’s iconic Daytona models. This movement is the very same that powers this exquisite watch, featuring the iconic tricolor subdials that have become synonymous with the El Primero lineage.
The Zenith El Primero you’re considering is not just any model; it’s the first reference of the El Primero, carrying within it the essence of innovation and history. If you’re seeking a watch that harmoniously blends vintage charm, mechanical excellence, and a touch of horological significance, this Zenith El Primero is an exceptional choice.
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Zenith was founded in 1865 by Georges Favre-Jacot in the Swiss town of Le Locle, where we also find Tissot.
The brand is perhaps best known for its El Primero line. A range of automatic chronographs that brings us back to a race among watchmakers in the late 1960’s. Three parties, Seiko, Zenith and a conglomerate of Heuer, Breitling, Buren-Hamilton and Dubois-Depraz secretly battled to release the first ever integrated automatic chronograph movement.
The Heuer conglomerate was ready to present their new caliber at the March 1969 Basel fair. But then Zenith announced its El primero (“the first”) caliber in January of ‘69. Seiko released its entry in May of 1969, but it is unclear whether they may have sold pieces in their domestic Japanese market earlier. With Zenith being the first to publish about their innovation and the Heuer conglomerate first to market, it remains unclear who was the real first. It is generally accepted to call it a draw.
But to limit Zenith’s reputation to the El Primero would be an injustice. The house may be a little under the radar, but it is surely deserving of high praise. The brand has a rich history and its watches are of high quality.
Zenith now falls under the LVMH (Louis Vuitton, Moët, Hennessy) group. It spent some time under interim leadership of the industry legend Jean-Claude Biver, who put a lot of emphasis on innovation. Zenith’s ultra-modern Defy range with its advanced in-house calibers are a prime example. Still, Zenith does not forget about its heritage with the more classical current El Primeros.
If you are looking for quality but you are a bit tired of the same old household names, Zenith is surely worth exploring. You might just find a hidden gem that suits you perfectly!
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