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50 years of the Zenith El Primero in one set
New Models

50 years of the Zenith El Primero in one set

Wednesday, 13 February 2019
By The FHH Journal editors
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The FHH Journal editors

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3 min read

In honour of the El Primero high-frequency chronograph’s 50th anniversary, Zenith is releasing an anniversary set of three models: a reissue of the first El Primero from 1969, a Chronomaster El Primero, and a Defy El Primero 21.

El Primero has been flowing through the veins of Zenith for 50 years. To celebrate the unique destiny of El Primero – the world’s first integrated and most accurate automatic chronograph –, Zenith invites you on a journey through time. The anniversary set contains three El Primero models retracing the technical and aesthetic evolution of this precision legend.

Original version

The anniversary boxed set, in a 50-piece limited edition, includes in its first compartment a perfect reiteration of the 1969 El Primero chronograph. A historical first that endows this vintage watch with a special aura and potent symbolism. The 38-mm steel case, curved glass with magnifying effect, tricolour counters, tachymeter scale, font, the shapes of the hands and hour-markers, as well as the leather strap: all the original codes are resolutely present. Likewise, the shape of the lugs and mushroom pushers are exactly reproduced on this pure “revival” watch. As for the ‘engine’, it’s the current version of the El Primero column-wheel chronograph movement, beating at a rate of 36,000 vibrations per hour and delivering 1/10th of a second precision as well as a 50-hour power reserve. Like the original, it displays the hours, minutes and small seconds, chronograph, tachymeter and date functions, the latter appearing between 4 and 5 o’clock.

1969 El Primero chronograph © Zenith
1969 El Primero chronograph © Zenith
Chronomaster 2.0

The second watch in the case is a Chronomaster, equipped with a new-generation El Primero engine and a new black ceramic bezel. Renamed El Primero 3600, its movement is presented in an optimised version, an update conducted in accordance with the architecture and proven performance of the legendary El Primero. This high-frequency calibre, beating at 36,000 vibrations per hour, achieves the feat of accurately measuring one tenth of a second and offering direct readings on the dial and bezel. In other words, the chronograph hand makes one dial turn in 10 seconds, indicating at each jump the tenth of a second on a scale graduated from 1 to 100.

Chronomaster © Zenith
Chronomaster © Zenith
Futuristic element

The Defy El Primero is the ultra-modern embodiment of the legendary El Primero. Beating inside its imposing 44-mm titanium case is a revolutionary mechanical movement. Oscillating at a frequency of 360,000 vibrations per hour (50 Hz), ten times higher than its predecessor, it measures and displays one hundredth of a second on a scale from 1 to 100. Its exclusive dynamic signature – the lightning-quick hand making a full turn of the dial in one second – reflects the exceptional precision and performance of this engine stemming from modern engineering with two independent “gearboxes” on board: one for the time and the other for the chronograph.

Defy El Primero 21 chronograph © Zenith
Defy El Primero 21 chronograph © Zenith
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