The Zenith El Primero Striking 10th really was one of my very few grail watches, but at £7000 I couldn’t ever imagine myself buying one. To find one brand new, and at 50% discount, is simply unheard of and there was no way I could let the opportunity slip, even though it didn’t come at the best of times if the truth be told.
Most people will know that for many years Rolex used this movement in their Daytonas, albeit in a slightly modified form. What’s less well known, though is that the Zenith El Primero was the world’s first automatic chronograph movement, and it was actually released on an unsuspecting world in 1969. Back then, it looked like this (with thanks to Panofsky on TZ-UK):
Anyway, what is effectively a reissue of this iconic watch has been made in limited edition of… yes, 1969! This one is actually number 644, and looking at the dial you can see that the original tachymeter has been replaced with a ten-second centre chrono counter. This is to reflect the 10 beats per second/36,000 beats per hour of the movement, and watching the chrono hand sweep around the dial is a joy. In fact, the watch is a joy in it’s entirety.