Zenith El-Primero 'Rainbow'

Regular price
$4,900
Regular price
Sale price
$4,900
REF 15/02-0460-400
Automatic-winding
40 MM
– Show less
SKU AS08935
Article Number 40991577
ref 15/02-0460-400
case size 40 MM
movement Automatic-winding
approximate age 1990s
dial color Black
material Stainless Steel
style Chronograph
category Neo-Vintage
bracelet Metal
lug width 20 MM
Includes Includes stainless steel multi-link bracelet with signed clasp. Also includes inner and outer boxset and books.
overall condition The case is in good condition overall, showing honest wear from age and use. Bezel shows normal signs of wear. Dial and handset are in excellent condition.
REF 15/02-0460-400
Automatic-winding
40 MM
– Show less
SKU AS08935
Article Number 40991577
ref 15/02-0460-400
case size 40 MM
movement Automatic-winding
approximate age 1990s
dial color Black
material Stainless Steel
style Chronograph
category Neo-Vintage
bracelet Metal
lug width 20 MM
Includes Includes stainless steel multi-link bracelet with signed clasp. Also includes inner and outer boxset and books.
overall condition The case is in good condition overall, showing honest wear from age and use. Bezel shows normal signs of wear. Dial and handset are in excellent condition.

Why We Love it

The Zenith El Primero automatic chronograph movement is a worthy contender for the pantheon of the most important mechanical calibres ever manufactured.

With a high beat rate, quickset date mechanism, and full-body winding rotor, these movements are robust, reliable, and accurate — and have powered everything from the iconic A386 chronograph to the Rolex Daytona, plus a bevy of lesser-known models from brands such as Movado and Waldan. 

In the 1990s, Zenith released a fresh line of chronograph models incorporating the El Primero movement which it called the Rainbow. Named after the victorious sailboat in the 15th America’s Cup in 1934, certain versions of these watches were indeed as colorful as their namesake, while others were subdued and monochromatic. The watch we have here is an example of the latter.

Housed in a 40mm stainless steel case, it features a gloss-black tritium dial with applied indices, radial subsidiary registers, a matching ‘sword’ handset, and a date window at 4:30. Also featuring a sapphire crystal, a signed crown, screw-down pushers, and a fixed, stainless steel tachymeter bezel. It comes paired to a stainless steel multi-link bracelet with a signed folding clasp, and includes its inner and outer boxes and books.

Powering this Reference 15/02-0460-400 is, of course, an automatic El Primero calibre from Zenith — the famed chronograph movement that saw the maison through the end of the Quartz Crisis when Rolex came knocking at Zenith’s door. This watch is an excellent reminder of the horological creativity of the 1990s, a time that collectors often overlook…

…to their detriment, in our opinion!

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 'Rainbow'

Zenith El-Primero 'Rainbow'

Regular price
$4,900
Regular price
Sale price
$4,900
Zenith El-Primero 'Rainbow'

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