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A highlight in the expanse of Swiss watches is the Zenith brand, which convinces with a high level of quality and precision that can be attributed to an impressive level of vertical integration within the watchmaking company. Zenith launched the El Primero watch movement in 1969, which was the first self-winding chronograph to be presented to the world. Today, Zenith is still driven by inspirational innovation and continues to set new standards for the entire luxury watch industry.
Zenith: History, Models and Prices. New & Vintage.


Discover the world of the Zenith watches online.

A highlight in the expanse of Swiss watches is the Zenith brand, which convinces with a high level of quality and precision that can be attributed to an impressive level of vertical integration within the watchmaking company. Zenith launched the El Primero watch movement in 1969, which was the first self-winding chronograph to be presented to the world. Today, Zenith is still driven by inspirational innovation and continues to set new standards for the entire luxury watch industry.

  • The visionary Georges Favre-Jacot founded the company Zenith in 1865 when he was only 22 years old.
  • In 1969, Zenith presented the first automatic chronograph movement with 36,000 vibrations per hour – the El Primero.
  • The ground-breaking El Primero movement boasts unparalleled quality and reliability, which is why it is also used by many other renowned manufacturers in the luxury watch industry.
  • The daring Australian skydiver, daredevil, and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner conducted his record-breaking space jump with a special edition of the Zenith El Primero around his wrist.
A success story since 1865

Georges Favre-Jacot and a revolution in the watchmaking industry

Driven by the goal of producing the most accurate clocks known to man, the young visionary Georges Favre-Jacot founded his company Zenith at the young age of 22 years. Favre-Jacots dreamt of uniting the watchmaking processes and professions under one roof. Based in Le Locle, the Zenith manufacture was one of the first industrial watchmakers worldwide that tried to develop their timepieces completely in-house. With a deep knowledge of watch movements and their interchangeable parts, the company founders eventually went on to revolutionise the watchmaking industry.

In 1911, the company name was changed to "Fabrique des Montres Zenith". The name Zenith dates back to an incident experienced by Favre-Jacot, who one evening, created a watch movement that seemed superior compared to the previous ones he had created before. Shorty afterwards, he stepped out into the starry night and turned his gaze towards the sky. The celestial sky seemed to resemble the mechanics of his watch movement, and it was then and there that he decided to call his new movement and factory Zenith –the highest point of the universe. Continuing with his heavenly theme, Favre-Jacot chose the five-pointed star to exemplify his company logo.

El Primero

A movement that revolutionised the watchmaking industry

Zenith has always devoted itself to the quest of perfection, which is why the innovative timepiece from the company has continued to impress to this day. Throughout the years, Zenith has received numerous prestigious awards for its unique calibre that requires more than 300 patents. The movement has been continuously developed to form over 600 versions.

However, the most famous movement from the Swiss brand was introduced on January 10th, 1969. It was the first automatic chronograph movement to be presented to the world. With over 36,000 vibrations per hour, the El Primero movement quickly captured the hearts of watch lovers worldwide. Today, the El Primero is considered to be one of the most famous creations in the watch industry. The movement is distinguished as the world’s most precise series-made calibre, which is not surprising since it is the only chronograph movement that is able to measure short times to the nearest tenth of a second. The movement is created with a balance wheel that emits a high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, guaranteeing precision and accuracy. In comparison, mechanical watches from other manufacturers usually incorporate a balance wheel that emits a frequency of 28,000 vibrations per hour.

The El Primero movement has continuously been developed throughout the years to include enriching complications and ground-breaking mechanisms. The high quality of the manufacture calibre further highlights the innovative spirit of the renowned brand. Today, the excellent calibre powers various watch collections from Zenith and carries on its name in the world of Haute Horlogerie.

El Primero, Academy, Elite and Pilot

Recent collection from Zenith

The entrepreneurial spirit of Zenith is demonstrated through its fine watchmaking innovations. Whether on the ground, in the air, or at sea – throughout the 20th century, Zenith has created technological solutions for the challenges faced during human exploration and conquest. The brand history and tradition is reflected in its many impressive timepiece collections.

In addition to the flagship model El Primero, the Academy series is the epitome of horological innovation and is presented with an impressive selection of amazing wristwatches. A variety of models, materials, colours and functions are featured in the Zenith Academy watch collection. Unusual complications and fascinating tourbillon cages can also be discovered among the mechanical finesse of the Academy collection.

Another popular collection from the renowned Manufacture is the Zenith Elite. The collection is characterised by restrained elegance yet offers the same amount of technological finesse that has come to be expected of the brand. Lovers of aviation timepieces are certainly familiar with this famous line that reflects the close ties of the company with the field of pioneering aviation. Zenith did not only once endow aviation pioneers with their reliable timepieces, but the company also created professional board instruments for aircrafts back in the day.

Limited Editions

Watchmaking masterpieces from Zenith

Zenith has been providing individuals with instruments that push the boundaries of human limits for over 150 years. Strapped around the wrist of Louis Blériot navigating through the atmosphere, accompanying the wise words of Mahatma Gandhi, or falling through space with Felix Baumgartner – Zenith has always been there. The Zenith timepieces have also rocked the stage with the Rolling Stones and zoomed around the tracks of famous races. The interaction between the innovative brand and passionate personalities is firmly anchored in the genes of the Swiss manufacturer.

Furthermore, the brand has continually tested its own innovative limits and has presented several extraordinary special edition timepieces to the market. The limited Christophe Colomb Hurricane Academy (Ref. 18.2212.8805 / 36.C713) for example, convinces with a “Gravity Control” gyroscopic module that ensures that the escapement is levelled at all times regardless of the position the watch case is placed in, thereby guaranteeing optimal precision. Another masterpiece special edition from the brand is the Academy Christophe Colomb Planète Bleue, which enchants watch connoisseurs not only due to its technological finesse, such as the manual-wound El Primero 8804 movement, but also thank to its spectacular dial with fine gemstone marquetry.

Last but definitely not least, the pilot Type 20 Tribute to Louis Blériot (Ref. 04.2421.5011 / 17.C714) is presented with an out of this world dial that is comprised of meteor rock. Furthermore, the dial features engravings that depict Louis Blériot’s journey across the English Channel. Powering this precise timepiece is the legendary pocket watch calibre 5011 that is fully engraved by hand.

Unique watches from Zenith

Timepieces for adventurers and heroes

Zenith has always been a faithful companion for exciting adventures. The watch has taken part in setting new records and has also witnessed outstanding human achievements. So it really comes as no surprise that world famous personalities seek out the artworks created by the renowned Zenith brand. Whether it is Louis Blériot, Mahatma Gandhi or Felix Baumgartner – individuals who seek to push new boundaries are fans of the impressive Zenith timepieces.

In the summer of 1909, the courageous pioneer Louis Blériot became the first person in history to cross the English Channel. What’s more is that he wore a Zenith timepiece around his wrist whilst doing so. This comes as no shock as Zenith was one of the first watch manufacturers to develop high-quality aviation instruments.

The international reputation of Zenith grew when, in the mid 20th century, Indian Prime minister Indira Nehru gifted her friend Mahatma Gandhi a silver pocket watch from Zenith. This timepiece was one of the very few earthly possessions that the spiritual leader owned and carried.

Another interesting fact about Zenith – it accompanied famous Australian skydiver and BASE jumper Felix Baumgartner, who in 2012, became the first person to break the sound barrier in free-fall. Strapped around his wrist was the El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th. The timepiece is the first of its kind that can withstand the supersonic speed, acceleration, altitude, pressure, and temperature at the edge of space. The timepiece endured the extreme conditions of the skydive without a scratch, further proving the unquestionable quality of Zenith timepieces.

From Captain to Port Royal

Coveted models

Zenith watches are true masterpieces and successfully demonstrate fine craftsmanship combined with technical innovation. However, the brand belongs to the underdogs of the industry. Get to know three innovative models that deserve more attention: