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
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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
- 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.