Introducing four masterpieces of automatic chronograph movements

The movement is the power mechanism, or heart, of a wristwatch. Mechanical wristwatch movements have undergone a long period of evolution since the end of the 19th century. Because the performance of this movement is directly linked to the precision of the watch, it is produced using advanced technology.

Among the movements that have been developed through fierce competition between various companies and that have supported the rise and fall of mechanical chronographs, this time we would like to introduce four famous automatic movements and their makers that are still renowned today.

Zenith 400 (El Primero)

Zenith, a Swiss watch manufacturer founded in 1865, is a "manufacture" that produces everything in-house, from movements to dials and cases.

The movement used in the world's first automatic chronograph, "El Primero," released in 1969, was Cal. 3019PHC. "El Primero" means "The First" in English and "the first" in Spanish. As its name suggests, it is known as the world's first automatic movement.

The introduction of the automatic chronograph movement marked a major change in the history of mechanical watches, but due to the quartz shock of the 1970s, production was temporarily halted.

When production resumed in the 1980s, Zenith revived it with improved features as the Cal. 400.

This Cal.400 has an astonishingly high vibration frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, making it possible to maintain higher accuracy than watches with lower vibrations. This world-class movement was also used in Daytona watches until Rolex began using its own in-house movements.

Currently, models based on Cal. 400 and equipped with Cal. 405, Cal. 410, etc. are being released.

Lemania 5100

Founded in Switzerland in 1884, Lemania began as a manufacturer of ébauches (movement parts). Even now, after becoming part of the Breguet Group, the company is known as a manufacturer of high-performance movements.

Lemania, which focused on producing ébauches rather than producing its own brand of watches, eventually developed famous movements such as Cal. 321 and Cal. 861, which are known as the movements for the Omega Speedmaster. They also began to produce complicated mechanisms such as minute repeaters and tourbillons.

In 1992, the company took over the production of Breguet movements, supporting the company in the production of fine watchmaking.

Among them, the most representative movement is the Cal. 5100, which is now out of production and difficult to obtain. It was supplied to various manufacturers such as Sinn, Tutima, and Fortis.

There is a 24-hour subdial at the 12 o'clock position.

The Cosmonaut Chronograph, a wristwatch for astronauts that Fortis produced in partnership with Russia's Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center, was originally equipped with the Lemania Cal. 5100. The 24-hour subdial was useful because it allowed the distinction between day and night even in space.

Frederic Piguet 1185

Founded in 1858 as a movement manufacturer, Frédéric Piguet has established itself as a supplier of the finest, most precise mechanical movements.

The Frederic Piguet Cal. 1185 that we are introducing this time is a movement that adds an automatic winding module to the manual winding movement Cal. 1180 released in 1987, and has attracted attention as the world's thinnest chronograph movement, with a thickness of 5.40 mm.

This is a high-end movement equipped with a 12-hour counter, 30-minute counter, small second counter, etc., and is used under different names in the finest chronographs from Audemars Piguet, Blancpain, Vacheron, and other brands.

Recently, Frédéric Piguet has had extensive ties with Blancpain.

Blancpain was forced to stop watchmaking due to the Quartz Crisis, but with the cooperation of Frederic Piguet, the company embarked on a revival. It revived traditional complicated mechanisms and released the "Six Master Pieces" collection, which featured one of each of the six major mechanisms: minute repeater, tourbillon, perpetual calendar, moon phase, split-second chronograph, and ultra-slim, as well as the "1735 Grand Complication," which combined all six of these into one watch.

This successful revival of not only Blancpain but also mechanical watches would not have been possible without the cooperation of Blancpain's Frédéric Piguet.

Blancpain merged with Frederic Piguet in 2010. The merger of these two highly skilled companies gives us hope for even greater success in the future.

Valjoux 7750 (ETA)

ETA is part of the Swatch Group and manufactures both mechanical and quartz movements.

Since developing and manufacturing a movement requires a great deal of effort and time, many watch manufacturers purchase completed (or semi-finished) movements and incorporate them into their own watches in order to keep costs down. The movements manufactured by ETA meet this need.

ETA was originally an ébauche group made up of over 10 ébauche makers. The movements manufactured by various companies, large and small, were weeded out by the merger of these ébauche makers, and only the best ones survived.

The Valjoux 7750 we will introduce this time is a masterpiece movement that still retains its former name.

It was developed in the 1970s by Valjoux, a manufacturer of ébauches (movement parts), which is now under the umbrella of ETA, and is still in production today.

Equipped with a 12-hour counter and a 30-minute counter, it is durable and can be mass-produced. It is used by many famous manufacturers, including Omega, Breitling, IWC, Porsche, and Hamilton.

What do you think? When choosing a mechanical chronograph, be sure to pay attention to the movement that is built into it.