When Georges-Favre Jacot wanted to create a flawless timepiece over 150-years ago, little did he know what this dream would go on to become. As a visionary, however, he did know that in order to achieve something close to perfection he would have to rewrite the rulebook of traditional Swiss watchmaking.
By the time he was 22, he was already manufacturing watches under his name at a small workshop in Le Locle, Switzerland, but soon realised that in order to push the boundaries of Swiss watchmaking he would need to adopt the vertical integration system commonly found within American watch companies.
By using a vertical integration model, Jacot would be developing the largest part of his production in-house. This also includes the manufacture, the parts, the movements, possibly even down to the tooling and machines. In fact, even elements such as natural ventilation, optimal lighting, and using bricks produced on site in Le Locle were all emphasised as part of Jacot’s ingenious design, and can still be witnessed at the historical building that houses the watch manufacturers. It is, therefore, a unique system that is exclusive to that company and the reason behind its products’ reliability and desirability. Jacot heavily invested in creating this system and, as a result, Zenith was born. Now an international leader, Zenith is at the forefront of creating automatic high-frequency chronograph watches.
Having been winning awards for its acclaimed timepieces since the 1900s, Zenith continues to create models that standout from its contemporaries. The watches are bold and beautiful yet remain faithful to Zenith’s signature style and elegance. As a celebration of their success over the years, Zenith are holding a “Master of Chronographs” exhibition where they are showcasing their countless achievements in watchmaking and innovative chronograph technology. The exhibition tells the story of Zenith’s recent past, from the launch of the revolutionary El Primero calibre in 1969 – the world’s first automatic high-frequency integrated chronograph movement – to the 2021 release of the new and improved El Primero 3600 that boasts a 1/10th of a second chronograph function and improved efficiency.
Other icons of the Zenith portfolio include the updated Chronomaster Open, which uses the improved power system of the El Primero 3604 and features a partially open dial solely to reveal the regulating organ and escapement. The original Chronomaster Open was launched in 2003 and was an instant hit, lauded for its daring design that is often imitated but never matched. For Zenith, the partially open dial has remained a prominent and coveted feature in many of its Chronomaster models for nearly 20 years. The latest version of this emblematic timepiece boasts a hesalite crystal sub-dial allowing full view of the star-shaped escape wheel, a new circular opening with chamfered edges, a contemporary grey tone and a smaller, ergonomic fit at 39.5mm wide. The steel bracelet option follows the contours and mixed polished and satin-brushed finishes of the case.
Likewise, the exhibition pays homage to its sleek Chronomaster Sport range, including the first boutique edition of the steel Chronomaster Sport, exclusively available at Zenith physical and online boutiques around the world. This version stands out with its engraved ceramic bezel, which consists of three separate coloured ceramic elements in the traditional El Primero tri-colour palette of grey, anthracite and blue that have been seamlessly forged together within the base of the bezel – also in ceramic. The colours of the bezel are extended from those of the dial’s registers, allowing for easier reading of the 1/10th of a second chronograph in clearly segmented parts. Making this special edition even more outstanding is its silver sunray-patterned dial with tricolour counters.
Full gold chronographs have a special place in Zenith history that even predate the El Primero. Because performance and preciousness don’t have to be mutually exclusive, Zenith has crafted the Chronomaster Sport entirely in rose gold – including the bracelet and engraved bezel with 1/10th of a second scale. Available with either a black or white dial with the signature El Primero tri-colour counters with golden hands and applied markers, the Chronomaster Sport in rose gold is meticulously finished with satin-brushed and polished surfaces to bring out the warm radiance of the precious metal.
The Chronomaster Sport is now also available in a “two-tone” aesthetic, combining the durability of stainless steel and the splendour of rose gold. The case as well as the side links of the bracelet are crafted in stainless steel, while the bezel, crown, pushers and the bracelet’s centre links are in rose gold. The silver sunray-patterned tricolour dial adds a shimmery effect that emphasises the mix of tones and textures.
Since its inception, Zenith watches represent Jacot’s original dream and have accompanied extraordinary figures to the same along the way. From Louis Blériot’s history-making flight across the English Channel to Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting stratospheric free-fall jump, and all the trailblazing women past and present, Zenith celebrates their accomplishments and achievements in their one-of-a-kind collections.
The exhibition highlights how Zenith has not only mastered high-frequency calibres and automatic chronographs, but also the precision, performance and dedication that go into collectable timepieces.
Learn more about Zenith watches and the “Master of Chronographs” exhibition here – https://www.zenith-watches.com