Vintage Zenith El Primero Watches



2015-06-26 10:34:37

Vintage Zenith El Primero Watches are original, collectible timepieces produced by the notable Swiss watch maker Zenith.

Brief history and description

Zenith is a Swiss watch manufacturing company. The company was founded in 1865 by George Favre-Jacot, who was only 22 years old at the time. The company was purchased by LVHM, a conglomerate of the Louis Vuitton brand, in 1999. Zenith is enduringly known for their luxurious quality and precise time-keeping.

The company has won over 1500 awards within the watch industry, and in 1969, Zenith created one of their most famous watches, the Zenith El Primero. The watch was intended to set the standard for superb efficiency in mechanics, and was the first of its kind.

A pioneer of the chronograph movement, the watch was fitted with integrated automatic winding, and remains the fastest chronograph watch in existence, beating at 36000 alternations an hour, which is all the more impressive when compared to the standard of just 28000. This remarkable rate also makes the watch the fastest in the world, as well as being the only mechanical chronograph capable of measuring to 1/10 of a second.

The introduction of quartz watches led to Zenith watches starting to take on more of an allure to collectors than to the general public, but the company has continued to manufacture watches and has seen a renewed popularity in recent years.

Guide for collectors

Zenith El Primero watches are highly sought after and extremely luxurious collectable items which have a particular appeal to people with a tremendous amount of disposable income due to their generally high cost.

The watches are a very specialist item, and therefore are largely only available at specialist auctions, though they do at times appear at online auctions such as and have also featured at the mainstream auctioneers such as Sothebys and Bonhams.

As with most collectables, Zenith El Primero watches increase in value dependent on their age, though this will not be the case for a watch which is not in working order or features extensive external damage.

Prospective collectors can read more about Zenith’s watches direct at the company’s website,, which includes an online catalogue of newly produced watches and information on retailers of both new and vintage finds.

Additionally, includes lots of information and a gallery of Zenith’s El Primero watches, which can provide an invaluable resource in helping collectors to ascertain the authenticity of a particular piece and avoid spending their money on potential fakes.

Notable auction sales

On 6th October 2006, Sotheby’s in Hong Kong sold a Zenith El Primero watch dated from 2004 for $30,000, making it the most expensive of its kind.

In the middling price range, a Zenith El Primero 18k gold watch sold from Fellows on 23rd January 2012 for $2,700.

At the lower end of the price range, a Zenith El Primero titanium automatic calendar watch sold for £1,100 from Bonhams on 29th November 2005, and the lowest price paid for one of the watches is £1,000, for a Zenith El Primero stainless steel watch dated from the 1970s, which sold from Bonhams on 28th November 2006.

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