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Zenith
in the beginning was time. And time became noble matter, aspiring towards the ultimate goal—ZENITH. Was the name given to the brand inspired by the sheer limits of the night sky? Tales of such, over time, have nearly achieved the status of legend, but invariably arose from a real event.

Georges Favre-Jacot, as the story goes, went out into the famed Jura Mountains one evening in 1865 while in the grips of a feverish search for a name for his new outstanding caliber. There, the 22-year-old watch inventor found inspiration in an exalting moment at the end of a long and taxing day.

The night-blue firmament, as seen on the lunar disks of the classical ChronoMaster designs today, provided the backdrop for the clusters of stars forming the Milky Way and a multitude of constellations. The chill of early spring was bracing and his attention naturally focused on the brightest point on the celestial dome—the luminous Polar Star at the zenith. An association of ideas and a moment of illumination, plus a few strides back to his office, produced the six capital letters of ZENITH, marked by a nib on vellum parchment and later etched into the platinum of the fine calibers made by the watch making firm.

Fate had intended that a name able to conjure up an entire philosophy should be displayed above the door of the establishment, and not simply on the bridges of completed watch movements.


By 1875, ZENITH had developed pocket watches, clocks and pendulum clocks, and was creating navigating instruments for the navy. Always rising to the challenge of producing a watch that is both attractive and accurate, ZENITH uses the finest machines and employs the skills of only the most disciplined craftsmen dedicated to the work they produce.


To date, ZENITH has won 1,565 first prizes for its innovative prowess and ZENITH is one of the rare watchmakers able to produce a number of chronograph calibers with column wheels and integrated self-winding systems within the movement of an extra-flat watch—which can also be adapted to include a number of additional complications. Faithful to the spirit of Favre-Jacot and harmoniously reconciled with the modern world, ZENITH has established an impressive tradition of unveiling outstanding watches with movements produced in the same watchmaking center.


Now part of a tradition dating back more than 138 years, at least thirty different calibers had been created before the most famous one appeared in 1969. The chronograph caliber El Primero ran at the high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour—with thirteen lines and only 6.50mm thick—and featured an integrated self-winding system. The caliber stands as a reference around the world, and is identified by a traditional serial number and its special name, a distinctive feature for ZENITH.


In 1994, ZENITH unveiled the ultra-slim Elite movement—still highly utilized today. In 2001, ZENTIH returned to its roots by inventing new calibers and, in 2002, the brand unveiled four new movements, 14 new models and an impressive 52 new references.
 

“Proportion is a question of millimeters.”

Such involvement and commitment, at every stage of development and production, obviously enhances the image of ZENITH as a creative source of new ideas. Such ideas are expressed as intelligent interpretations of the performance achieved by the celebrated El Primero chronograph, while also offering functional variations on the Elite movement—challenging time itself and generations past and future.


It is a rare luxury to be able to create an individual universe, to be able to put a name to the dials and movements created, thus enhancing the exclusive aura of collections of timepieces noted for their sheer perfection, in every tiny detail. A watch is an entity in its own right. The image it conveys must express perfection and its presentation must surpass all limits.

A simple glance is all that is needed: the case, whether gold or stainless steel, polished and individually assembled, will catch a glint of light and the focal point will be on the hands.

The delicate hands used in ZENITH watches are cut from gold leaf, or stainless steel, finished and mounted with great care; they must never come into contact with the fine “guilloché” finish of the face, or with the Roman or Arabic numerals carefully applied by hand. These hands are the outer sign of the inner life of the movement, the first manifestation of the value of time choreographed in a circular dance. ZENITH watches are perfectly balanced and the supreme refinement extends to the leather straps and metal bracelets.

“Beauty is the splendor of truth.”

The straps are cut from carefully selected sections of alligator skin, with fine, even scales; the leather is dyed with non-allergic vegetable coloring, hand-finished in saddle-stitch and fitted with a triple-folding clasp made from heat-forged gold or stainless steel. The metal bracelets, born of fire, are carefully and slowly assembled, with each link being polished or satin-buffed, then riveted to the next one. It is a painstaking exercise, and the flexible motion of each link is closely checked for optimal comfort.


Luxury as an intrinsic part of everyday routine is a leitmotif for ZENITH, where, inside the workshops, watches are made and assembled with complete devotion, and each part is methodically checked. Such prestigious timepieces are the fruit of the experience and skills of experts, trained by the finest masters, perpetuating the centuries’ old tradition, and offering eloquent proof of Plato’s statement: Beauty is the splendor of truth.

 

H I G H L I G H T S

  • In 2002, ZENITH unveiled four bold new movements to further enhance its significant collection. The brand also launched 14 new models representing an impressive 52 new references.
  • ZENITH has launched a new publicity campaign to mark the company’s vigor and emphasis on technical prowess and excellence. In the campaign, beauty, simplicity and truth take center stage. The ChronoMaster El Primero, Grande Class Elite and Port Royal El Primero are majestically captured in an instant of time by the keen eye of photographer Kanji Hishi. The detail of the dial, the design of the case, and the complexity of the movement are the stars of the campaign.
  • ZENITH has unveiled a book for lovers of objects of art. The Collection, Volume II, highlights the 2002-2003 models in the ChronoMaster, Class and  Port-Royale lines—all of which are equipped with the  legendary Elite or El Primero movements.

 

 

 

Georges Favre-Jacot (1843-1917) founded the ZENITH Manufacture in 1865.

 

 

El Primero 4002 is a symbol of excellence. The El Primero was the first automatic integrated chronograph movement, capable of measuring short time intervals to a tenth of a second. This new 4002 caliber has a slightly modified positioning of the functions, giving to the Grande Class a dial with two counters.

 

 

Grande Class Star Collection.

 

Zenith

 

Grande Port-Royal El Primero, Grande ChronoMaster XT, Grande Class Star Collection.

 

 

Sculpture d’Arcs (1990) by Bernar Venet. The artist’s studio, Le Muy, France. “Sculpting raw matter to reveal the hidden meaning.”

 

 

Grande ChronoMaster XT.

 

 

Le Grand Remorqueur (1923), Fernand Léger. The secret of the most audacious works of art is to combine tradition and modernity.

 

 

With true beauty that comes with authenticity, timepieces made by ZENITH craftsmen express the ineffable joy experienced when extending the scope of life.

 

 

Grande Port-Royal El Primero.  

 

 

   

 

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