Zenith’s watchmaking facilities are based in Le Locle, Switzerland where each meticulously crafted timepiece is developed from start to finish within the walls of the factory. Nicknamed “the Manufacture with 2,000 gold and silver hands”, the watchmaking house makes impeccable timekeeping instruments that are Swiss roots through-and-through. Their legendary calibre 135 was built in 1960. The chronometer movement is equipped with a small seconds function and went on to earn a total of 235 prizes for its precision timekeeping and beautifully developed construction. Just nine years later, Zenith launched their Calibre 5011K which would go on to power marine chronometers, table clocks and pocket watches – the former assisting with accurate timekeeping in some of the most extreme of conditions.
It was not until the year of 1975 however, that Zenith would go on to create the first integrated automatic chronograph movement which is still used in some of the company’s innovative watches today. Capable of measuring short times to the nearest tenth of a second, its beautifully manufactured balance oscillating at a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour promises never to let the lady or gent down. Despite the company undergoing a cease in the manufacture of mechanical movements, watchmaker Charles Vermot hid the plans, the tools and the company’s time-honoured manufacturing methods required to make a mechanical calibre. This valuable decision allowed the company to continue with the production of automatic movements at a later date. In 1994 the El Primero (one of the company’s most popular and reliable movements) resumed in production and was in high demand once more in 1994.
The year 2000 marked the first ever Calibre created by Zenith to have been developed using Computer Assisted Design Technology. The Elite movement and subsequent collection boasted an ultra-slim profile with a desirable slenderness that won it the vote for “movement of the year” by the trade press in the same year. Around nine years later, Zenith began focussing on creating something unique and rare – something that certainly set their watches apart from others on the market at the time. A dial with an open-worked surface became Zenith’s new innovation. It exposed parts of the El Primero calibre with its visible oscillations put on show for the wearer and those in his or her company to admire. The feature brought to life the magic of a mechanical watch whilst also parading elements of the company’s proudest Swiss technology.
The El Primero movement also went on to equip the wrist of Austrian skydiver, Felix Baumgartner, who became the first man to break the sound barrier in freefall whilst jumping from the edge of the stratosphere of a space capsule and landing in the New Mexican desert with the Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th watch strapped securely to his wrist. Other milestones like the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Lightweight watch winning the GPHG Sports Prize, have also gone down as a landmark in the company’s history.
In 2017 Zenith launched the DEFY EL PRIMERO 21 with an impressive 1/100th of a second mechanical accuracy. Using manufacturing methods that have coursed through the company’s blood for over 150 years, the watch represents a leap in performance and mechanical excellence. Zenith masterpieces continue with the launch of new models each year and a compelling array of collections to choose from – each with their own unique style and a set of functions for assisting with all tasks in daily life.