Zenith El Primero

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REF 90/01 0500400
Automatic
38 MM
– Show less
SKU AS07275
Article Number 408100831490
ref 90/01 0500400
case size 38 MM
movement Automatic Winding
approximate age 2000s
dial color Silver
material Stainless Steel
style Chronograph
category Pre-Owned Contemporary
bracelet Leather
lug width 20 MM
Includes Includes slate blue calf leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle.
overall condition The case is in excellent condition overall showing light signs of wear from age and use. Luminous sunburst silver dial with radial subsidiary registers and applied indices is in outstanding condition with matching handset. Signed crown. Sapphire exhibition caseback.
REF 90/01 0500400
Automatic
38 MM
– Show less
SKU AS07275
Article Number 408100831490
ref 90/01 0500400
case size 38 MM
movement Automatic Winding
approximate age 2000s
dial color Silver
material Stainless Steel
style Chronograph
category Pre-Owned Contemporary
bracelet Leather
lug width 20 MM
Includes Includes slate blue calf leather strap with stainless steel pin buckle.
overall condition The case is in excellent condition overall showing light signs of wear from age and use. Luminous sunburst silver dial with radial subsidiary registers and applied indices is in outstanding condition with matching handset. Signed crown. Sapphire exhibition caseback.

Why We Love it

The introduction of the El Primero movement was an unqualified triumph for Zenith.

As (arguably) the first self-winding chronograph movement — hence its name — the El Primero was a horological game-changer. It was the culmination of five years of research and development, and was the first watch to integrate the chronograph within the automatic movement, rather than house it in a module that was sandwiched on top. Moreover, it was also a hi-beat movement, guaranteeing accuracy that was unparalleled — accuracy to within 1/10th of a second.

Following a long and tumultuous history, the modern Zenith company debuted several vintage-inspired chronographs in the 1990s and 2000s that housed contemporary takes on the El Primero movement, including this one. 

Housed in a 38mm stainless steel case with a sapphire crystal, a signed crown, and a polished, stepped beel, it features a luminous sunburst silver dial with applied indices, a matching handset, a triple-register chronograph layout, an outer tachymeter scale, and a date window at 4:30. Powered by the automatic Zenith El Primero movement, it comes paired to a blue leather strap with an unsigned, stainless steel pin buckle.

With its terrific proportions, handsome dial, famed, automatic caliber and versatile design, only the slightly oversized case and sapphire display caseback would give this watch away as a modern reissue, rather than a 1960s original. 

Snag it now!

Brand Story

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Georges Favre-Jacot began producing pocket watches in Le Locle at the age of twenty-two. By the turn of the 20th century, Favre-Jacot was producing marine chronometers and chronometer-grade movements, one of which won a chronometry competition in Neuchâtel in 1903. Under the name Zenith, formally established in 1911, Favre-Jacot expanded his production to include wristwatches.
Zenith's chronographs in particular gained a reputation for excellence. At first Zenith used Excelsior Park and Valjoux movements, sharing them with Universal Genève and Movado (with which Zenith would merge for a time in 1969). By the 1960s Zenith acquired ébauche manufacturer Martel and began using their movements exclusively, leading to lauded calibers such as the 146HP and 146DP, which launched in 1969.
1969 was a banner year for horology, as it saw the launch of the first automatic chronograph movement. This was a race between a team consisting of Hamilton, Heuer, Buren, Dubois-Depraz, and Breitling; Seiko; and Zenith. Zenith used the Caliber 146 as a basis for the caliber which the brand would dub "El Primero" — "the first." Of the consortium’s Caliber 11, Seiko’s reference 6139, and the El Primero, only the latter feature a “high-beat” movement for increased accuracy.
Zenith ceased using manually-wound movements in their chronographs after the introduction of the El Primero — however, then the Quartz Crisis of the 1970s hit, and the company was sold. Employees were ordered to destroy or otherwise liquidate their mechanical watchmaking tooling, but incredibly, one daring engineer, Charles Vermot, decided to hide machinery behind a false wall that he built himself in the attic of the company’s manufacture in Le Locle. He told no one about what he was doing — not even his family.

Then, in the 1980s after the company had changed hands once again, he led modern Zenith management to this secret cache of horological wonders, in which the El Primero tooling was hidden. Ebel placed the first modern order for El Primero movements in 1984, but it was Rolex, who ordered thousands of calibers to power their new automatic Daytonas, that saved the firm. Today, the El Primero powers numerous vintage-inspired chronographs as well as the new Chronomaster Sport, a watch aimed as a competitor at — with much irony — the Daytona.

A:S Guarantee

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Our Pledge

Analog:Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.

Condition

Since our pieces are vintage or pre-owned, please expect wear & patina from usage and age. Please read each item description and examine all product images.

Warranty

We back each Analog:Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.

International Buyers

Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

Shipping & Returns

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All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states.

Most of our products are on hand and will ship directly from our headquarters in New York City. In some cases, watches will be shipped directly from one of our authorized partners.

We generally ship our products via FedEx, fully insured, within 5 business days of purchase. An adult signature is required for receipt of all packages for insurance purposes. Expedited shipping is available at an additional cost. We are also happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.

Returns must be sent overnight or by priority international delivery, fully insured and paid for by the customer. A restocking fee may apply. Watches must be returned in the same condition as initially shipped.

We welcome international buyers, please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options.

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Zenith El Primero

Zenith El Primero

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Zenith El Primero

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