Category Archives: Zenith

There’s more to Zenith watches than hyper-accurate chronographs review

Amid all of the comings and goings in our yearly Watch Guide, one constant remains: it ends with Zenith. And, as bookends proceed, you couldn’t want for a more stalwart, respected and significant brand. Because, in its own way, Zenith tells the story of mechanical watchmaking in Switzerland — a battle against forces geopolitical as far as technological, forces which have put many other watch brands beneath.
It is a story that starts in the small village of Le Locle, in the Jura Mountains. In the first part of the 19th century it had been the beating heart of Switzerland’s clock and watchmaking industry, after an explosion in the amount of watchmakers who’d set up shop there. In the area of 100 years, their figures grew ten times from 303 in 1,760 to 3,053 a century later.
Enter, in 1843, Georges Emile Favre-Bulle, the son of a watchmaker. (His great-uncle, too, was at the commerce, famous for his marine chronometers.) Georges was just 13 years old when he shrugged off the overbearing attentions of his apprenticeship manager and struck out on his own. Adding his spouse’s name to his own, Georges opened a workshop in 1865, the birth year of what would become Zenith.
A 22-year-old accountable for his own startup at the white-hot industrial center of the precision watchmaking sector — what could possibly go wrong? To start with, very little.
Luckily for watchmaking, Georges had something about”the banks”. He chose to go it alone, so chose to create his movements the hard way — from the bottom up, as it were. What he generated in the procedure was a”fabrication”, the term we give now to all vertically integrated watch companies and the beginning point for what we understand as haute horlogerie.
But he did not stop there. He gained experience in enamelling, dial-making and casing and produced his own instruments. You name it, horologically speaking, Georges did it. Ten years after setting up, he used ten percent of Le Locle’s total workforce and has been the region’s biggest landowner.

Zenith watches

All this expansion required inventory, therefore Georges relented and took his company public. It might appear a strategic retreat for such an avowed entrepreneur, but it quickly repaid. He began to win against the chronometry prizes that could pile up considerably within the next 100 years. To date, Zenith has won a remarkable 2,333 — more than any other brand.
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Georges stood in 1911 in favour of his nephew and son-in-law James andtwo years later, Zenith unveiled its initial chronograph — the disadvantage for that it will forever be correlated. Zenith reacted by creating dashboard clocks and clocks timers for cars, altimeters for aircraft, equipment for telephone exchanges… you name itif it may be made and also a use found for it, Zenith produced it.
Nevertheless, in 1925 James was pushed apart during a management shake-out, and the banks were in control — not always a good thing if you’re looking for tales of adventure and derring-do, but in such a instance representing something of a steadying hand in what would grow to be a tumultuous time for the company.
After all, Zenith had dropped its own important Russian business following the revolution in 1917, and it had no US company whatsoever, because of some trademark challenge from the American Zenith Radio Company.
But during this period it did acquire an expert chronograph producer, an important step in creating what would become its milestone complication: the world’s first fully integrated chronograph.
Chronomaster Revival Shadow
What is this for beastly? As far as we understand, only four illustrations are thought to exist, but today comes this boundless re-edition, in the new, historically appropriate (37mm) A384 case from 1969 and now made from microblasted titanium. Additionally swapped out: the original’s hand-wound Martel movement for its Zenith’s legendary El Primero automatic chronograph calibre.


Together with its all-conquering automatic chronograph movement, El Primero, Zenith watches has been a steady supplier of ultra-slim watches, as a result of its Elite calibres. And although recent selections have majored on more feminine examples, 2020 sees a return to the elegant lines found in most”serious” dress watches. This brand new moonphase equipped version includes a 40.5millimeter case in 18-ct increased gold, a silver-toned sunray decorated dial and quintessentially”classical” dauphin hands.
Built to coincide with the company’s, all-new Defender SUV, Zenith’s ongoing partnership with Land Rover results in a suitably substantial-looking version of its equally revolutionary El Primero Defy 21, which includes an uprated El Primero movement capable of timing to one-hundredth of a moment. However there similarities with earlier models finish, together with the newest Defender’s chunky-yet-minimalistic appears picked up in a robust-looking sandblasted titanium instance crafted fitted with its own”collar” crown shield.

Best Zenith Pilot Type 20 Ton-Up

Introduced in 2016, Zenith upgraded their Pilot view collection. The Pilot isalso, a selection of aviation watches, as its name implies. Made specifically for flying, these watches uphold top-of-the-line precision and design. The Pilot doesn’t fall brief. From its around case and wire lugs down to the material of the straps, the Pilot completely masters the”classic” vibe. Not to mention, it enables easier time-reading via its stylised luminescent Arabic numerals and”cathedral” hands. However, one of its stand-out features needs to be the oversized crown. Designed particularly for aviators, this crown allows for a while to be adjusted even while wearing gloves. It is also onion-shaped and nods at the brand’s heritage.

All these are features we can find in any Zenith Pilot watch. Our favourite is the chronograph iteration, although the Pilot Type 20 Ton-Up has various iterations offered on the industry today. The updated version leans more on legibility than its predecessor. To start with, it should be learned that the Ton-Up is a tribute to this Café Racers, motorcycles that are powerful and lightweight optimised for handling and speed, and its own community called the’Ton-Up Boys’. Without needing to vanish in the audience, these machines fly. They stand out for their own design but also due to their standing. This has to be the principle that the Form 20 Ton-Up was applied to by Zenith.


Adding a bit of motocross to an aviation watch may be confusing to you. It begins to make sense as you discover its features. It’s black, but maybe not PVC-coated. Instead, it has a surface layer of patina that enhances the elegance of the watch without sacrificing its own powerful aesthetics. What’s more, it contains white Super-LumiNova instead of the typical faux-patina that is off-white. Additionally, it has hands replacing the steel handson. These features further the legibility that the Pilot stands out for. This watch can be powered with the El Primero calibre, therefore queries concerning accuracy are from the table.

From its looks alone, biker energy that is perfect for the adventurer is exuded by the watch. The caseback is shut which can be a little disappointing to fans of their movement. The fact remains that it has beneath that holds a 50-hour power reserve, a powerful calibre.

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Extra Special

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Extra is Zenith’s ode to Classic aviation. Its silver case features a dial using a’bolted’ layout. Features include hour, minute, and luminescent hands. Meanwhile, the Arabic numeral markers loom proud and large against the dial. Powered by the Zenith Elite Automatic 679 motion, this watch boasts an energy reserve of 50 hours. The silver case is complemented by its silver crown and a brown calfskin leather strap with silver buckle that is adds flourish into its glorious design.
In 45mm, the Zenith Pilot type 20 Chronograph Extra Special features a bronze instance, matte black dial, along with a green leather strap. A handsome watch for the adventure-seeker epitomises outdoor soul. Running on the El Primero 4069 Calibre movement, this watch includes functions and a power reserve. The two sub-dials show a 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock and small seconds at 9. Large hours, minutes and seconds hands, in addition to Arabic numeral markers blend with the sub-dials. This watch is great for a weekend adventure. Thus, feel free to take it white-water rafting or hiking in the forests!
zenith a384 revival lupin third edition closeup



Only available in Japan, this limited series bears the features of the first automatic chronograph and brings to life the watch of imaginary character Rupan Sansei.

A Japanese version of Arsène Lupin in a soap opera manga, Lupin the Third, takes up the myth of the French gentleman burglar from 1967 under the pen name Monkey Punch (1937-2019). An animated series that began to be broadcast in 1971 allowed the fictional character to meet an international audience. In the first episode of Rupan Sansei, Lupin’s partner Daisuke Jigen wears a Zenith watch. As the model did not exist, the Manufacture decided to mark the 50th anniversary of the El Primero caliber by bringing it to life in the form of a 50-piece limited edition called the A384 Revival Lupin the Third Edition. It is presented in a special case with a counter-box decorated with a mosaic of images from the series.

zenith a384 revival lupin third edition closeupThe time information and the date at 4:30 am are powered by the El Primero 400 caliber with a rate of 36,000 vibrations per hour. The self-winding movement ensures a 50-hour autonomy. Its oscillating weight with a Côtes de Genève finish is revealed through the sapphire crystal caseback on which the silhouette of Daisuke Jigen is drawn.

Price: EUR7,000

By Dan Diaconu

zenith defy midnight lifestyle



Seeking inspiration, appeasement and beauty by simply turning to the stars: this is the challenge launched by the new watch created by the Manufacture from Le Locle, recently unveiled in Dubai.

As part of the LVMH Watch Week, a new trade show organized by the group whose first edition took place in January in Dubai, Zenith presented a watch mainly aimed at women.

This new Defy Midnight, which comes in six variations, bears the typical curved silhouette of the collection, with its full, beveled shoulder straps. Whether it is intense blue like a summer evening, taupe gray with stormy accents or pearly white like an autumn mist, the dial undeniably evokes the immensity of the sky bursting with a multitude of stars.

zenith defy midnight lifestyleThese have different sizes and are sometimes luminescent, a brilliance enhanced by the 11 diamonds on the hour-markers and the 44 brilliants when the bezel is set. At the center of this starry night, two rhodium-plated baton-style hands and a second hand with a star-shaped counterweight indicate the hours, minutes and seconds. To optimize information, the date is displayed in black on a white background in an aperture at 3 o’clock.

The Defy Midnight is powered by the Elite 670 SK caliber, an automatic movement that delivers 48 hours of power reserve and is housed in a 36mm-diameter steel case. It is completed by a wide variety of straps (steel links, satin or rubber-lined leather) that are easily interchangeable.

Price: 8,900 CHF (steel) – 10,900 CHF (crimped steel)

By Sharmila Bertin

zenith chronomaster 2 2019 both



A limited series of Chronomaster chronographs inaugurates the automatic El Primero caliber which has been totally redesigned by the Locle watchmakers to celebrate its jubilee.

50 years old and still at the cutting edge of performance. The El Primero caliber first issued back in 1969 pursues its route in chronometry. But that’s no reason for Zenith to rest on its laurels. Quite the contrary actually! Given that the firm has unveiled a state-of-the-art enhanced version known as El Primero 3600. This automatic movement which is still set at 36,000 vibrations an hour hosts an integrated construction with a lateral clutch, column wheel and ball bearing-mounted central rotor. Its development was optimized using a performance algorithm. And, the result? The power reserve is extended and now offers a minimum of 60 hours. The caliber now features a stop-seconds device for setting time precisely.

zenith chronomaster 2 2019 bothTo celebrate this event, two 250-piece limited chronograph series have been produced. Both are complemented by an alligator strap in the same shade as the bezel, set off with a folding clasp.

Price: CHF9,900

By Dan Diaconu

zenith defy el primero 21 carbon dial closeup



The Le Locle manufacture is firmly anchored in its century. The evidence is found in the aesthetic and mechanical advantages of this chronograph, which is able to measure time to the nearest 1/100th of a second.

Must we still talk about futuristic design? Carbon definitively marks the watchmaking industry with its footprint. The heterogeneous streaks of the composite fibers used to machine the cases create a design that is now clearly identifiable and linked to our times. The Defy El Primero 21 Carbon presents this singularity thanks to a relevant use of the material. Not only does it reinforce the masculine style of the timepiece, but it also enhances its mechanical architecture, which can be seen through the openwork dial. On this 44mm diameter monochrome composition, the time information is revealed by black Super-LumiNova® SLN on the hour and minute hands and indexes.

zenith defy el primero 21 carbon dial closeupTo reinforce its sporty personality, the Defy El Primero 21 Carbon comes with a textured black rubber strap, finished with a carbon and titanium folding clasp.

Price: 18,900 CHF

By Dan Diaconu

zenith chronomaster c 01 el primero dark



The Le Locle-based manufacturer is celebrating the anniversary of its high frequency movement with a special edition, created in collaboration, and for, fine watchmaking club Collective.

To celebrate 50 years of the El Primero movement, Zenith has just unveiled a limited edition, produced in collaboration with American club Collective, founded by Gabe Reilly and Asher Rapkin, exclusively for its membership of keen watch collectors. The latter is made up of creatives, managers and manufacturers, many of whom work in the tech industry and live in Silicon Valley in the San Francisco Bay Area, in New York City and in Silicon Beach, Los Angeles. The Chronomaster El Primero C.01 is recognizable by the carefully selected tones of its dial, housed in a 38 mm steel case with a polished satin finish. Gone are the traditional colors of the original. The grey and white selected create a streamlined aesthetic, despite the presence of the chronograph and small second counters. On this stylish dial, the time markers, encircled by a tachymeter scale, remain clearly legible in all light conditions thanks to the use of blue Super-LumiNova® throughout.

zenith chronomaster c 01 el primero darkThe 50 Chronomaster El Primero C.01 watches produced are individually numbered. Each comes with a comfortable Black Cordura effect rubber wrist strap, finished with a folding clasp.

Price: 6,850 USD

By Dan Diaconu

zenith pilot type 20 chronograph adventure both strap



With the oxidation of air, the color of bronze uniquely develops day after day. The result? The case of each of these new timepieces from Zenith becomes one of a kind.

Although the design of watches in the Pilot collection by Zenith is inspired by old timepieces which helped aviation adventurers to navigate the skies, this design now brings character to these particularly versatile models to accompany us in our everyday adventures in style. The Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure sports an hour circle composed of extra-large numerals covered with Super-LumiNova® on a grained khaki green dial with cathedral-type hands. At 9 o’clock, the small seconds dial is arranged symmetrically with the 30-minute counter of the chronograph. It is all displayed in a generous 45 mm case made of bronze which develops its patina over time. Each chronograph therefore becomes unique over the lifetime of its owner. On its case band, the slimline pushers frame a prominent ribbed crown whose size makes it easy to set the time.

zenith pilot type 20 chronograph adventure both strapTo adapt it to any style, the Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Adventure comes with two interchangeable rubber-lined leather straps finished with a pin buckle, one in monochrome and the other in a stylish camouflage pattern.

Price: on request

By Dan Diaconu

zenith defy fusee tourbillon dial closeup



Guaranteeing precise time information for the duration of the movement’s running time is the aim of this futuristic limited edition by Zenith.

The quality of the energy provided by a spring drops over time. To overcome this inherent mechanical feature, watchmakers have designed various systems capable of providing a constant force. One of these consists of a two-piece system formed of a micro-chain coiled around a conical fusee and attached to the barrel. In practical terms, this “fusee-chain” transmission guarantees the production of homogeneous energy. This is what is used together with a tourbillon regulating organ in the impressive Defy El Primero Fusée Tourbillon.

zenith defy fusee tourbillon dial closeupThe brand is offering the Defy El Primero Fusée Tourbillon in two very different limited editions. One comprising 50 pieces has a technical face with the omnipresence of black carbon, while the other is even more exclusive comprising just 10 pieces made of platinum.

Price: 80,100 EUR (carbon) – 102,500 EUR (platinum)

By Dan Diaconu