Zenith: Movement Through Time

Calibre El Primero 3019 PHC, 1969


Since its creation 150 years ago, Zenith has constantly played a pioneering role in developing and producing precise, reliable and complex timepieces. By integrating the entire range of watchmaking professions in-house, the Manufacture has all the expertise and independence required to create unusual mechanisms that constantly push the boundaries of time measurement. From onboard instruments to wristwatches and pocket-watches, Zenith has filed over 300 patents in the course of its rich history, with a regularity worthy of a finely crafted timepiece.

Zenith has registered more than 300 patents over the course of its rich history.


An incredible record: 2333 chronometry awards won by Zenith


Testifying to the brand’s relentless quest for precision, ten or so of them these patents relate to the index or regulator, a tiny component serving to extend or reduce the active length of the balance-spring in order to achieve the best possible timing precision. The brand is indeed the most titled ever in the field of precision, having won no less than 2,333 chronometry prizes to date. Proudly embodying this impressive mastery, the El Primero caliber will doubtless remain one of the most legendary movements in the epic saga of horology.

Created in 1969, it is the first automatic integrated chronograph ever, also enabling exceptional 1/10th of a second precision, the equivalent of 36,000 vibrations per hour. Over 40 years later, it remains the world’s most precise series-made calibre.

While the history of Fine Watchmaking is punctuated by hundreds of patents filed by Zenith, one in particular already represents a major 21st century breakthrough: the “Gravity Control” gyroscopic module. This self-regulating system exceeds the performances of a tourbillon mechanism, since it keeps the escapement in a constant horizontal position and thus totally free of the variations in rate resulting from wrist movements.


El Primero Striking 10th, Caliber 4052


The Full Range of horological complications interpreted through over 600 movement variations

The Zenith repertoire encompasses the full range of watchmaking complications, from the simplest to the most sophisticated. Over the decades, the brand has built up an impressive array of more than 600 movement variations entirely developed and produced within its Manufacture – a rare feat indeed. While these calibers share the common denominator of impressive chronometric performance, they have also paved the way for other advances in the watchmaking field.


Academy Christophe Colomb Hurricane


All watchmaking complications figure in Zenith’s repertoire.

The brand with the guiding star was thus one of the first to produce wristwatches, filing a patent for such a model as early as 1909. A year later, the Manufacture once again innovated with a patent protecting its “mainspring development indicator mechanism” that heralded the advent of the power-reserve display about which virtually no brands were particularly concerned at the time. Closer to the modern era, the Elite caliber was one of the first movements designed using Computer Assisted Design (CAD) technology, and was voted movement of the year by the professional press when introduced in 1994. Favoured for its extreme slenderness, its precision and its reliability, the Elite caliber currently equips a number of Zenith timepieces, from a classic ultra-thin model to a ladies’ jewellery watch.


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