Zenith creates first platinum El Primero to celebrate 50 years
To top off its half-century celebrations, Zenith is giving the El Primero one last hurrah with its first ever platinum-edition, being auctioned off exclusively in November.
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, the El Primero is the unsung hero of 1969 horology. It’s easily done of course, it was a stacked year for the industry with the Tag Heuer Monaco, Omega Speedmaster and Seiko Astron all making headlines for different reasons. Zenith’s El Primero cannot go unnoticed however, and this celebratory, one-off platinum piece is impossible to ignore.
The El Primero ‘One-Off’ is a prime example of the original watch being brought into the modern world in the most daring of ways. A first for the collection, the 38mm chrono has been crafted out of platinum. Made in collaboration with Phillips’ watch team, the piece features a deep blue ‘lapis’ dial.
Lapis lazuli is a bright blue precious stone, hailed for its intense colour. The style of this textured stone was the inspiration for this One-Off’s complex dial. The dial sports three white chronograph dials, along with a date window.
The watch features a sapphire display back stamped with “One-Off”, behind this stamp you can see the modern A384 movement (the 400 movement) ticking away at a 5 Hz frequency. The timepiece is presented on a matching blue leather strap.
A quick refresher as to why Zenith’s El Primero was and is a big deal: Quartz came around (courtesy of the aforementioned Seiko Astron) and provided a cheap and accurate alternative to traditional watchmaking.
To counteract the appeal of quartz, Zenith created the El Primero with an A386 movement, this was a ‘Hi-Beat’ movement. Hi-Beats ‘beat’ at a higher frequency than other watches, meaning the time is measured more frequently and therefore more accuracy. Zenith had created a traditional watch as accurate as the new tech which had entered the scene.
Of course, the Quartz Crisis still happened and brought the entire industry to the brink of extinction, though the El Primero still was proof that brands could go toe-to-toe with Seiko’s nifty invention.
50 years on, Zenith is celebrating this achievement with a line of El Primero ‘Revival’ timepieces. Faithfully sticking to the original design 1969-ticker but also modernising the movement and adding some funky styles.
The platinum piece will be auctioned off as lot 136 at the Geneva Watch Auction X on November 9, 2019 and will benefit the Swiss children's cancer charity Zoe4Life.