Mechanical Watches and Hand-wound Watches - The Miraculous Resurrection and Zenith's 150-Year Journey to the Heavens

■ Founding

Zenith was founded by Georges Favre-Jacot in 1865.

The company was founded in Le Locle, in the Swiss Jura Mountains.
Currently, it is part of the LVMH Group, and as for the same watch brand,

Hublot and Tag Heuer are also under its umbrella.

Many Zenith watches are open-faced, allowing you to see the mechanical movement inside from the front face, making them a visual treat.

For those who are buying a mechanical watch for the first time, just seeing the calculated movement of the mechanism of the watch can be exciting.

As watch enthusiasts may know, Le Locle has been a center of the watch industry since the 17th century.
It all began when a man named Daniel Jean-Richard took charge of repairing the first watches brought in from London, and then took up the task of analyzing watches, establishing himself in the Le Locle region and training the next generation of craftsmen.

In the 17th century, Swiss watchmakers did not yet have a culture of coming together under one roof to make watches.
This was a time when each individual opened their own workshop and made watches.
There was no interaction between them, and they were not mass-produced.

So Georges Favre-Jacot came up with the idea of ​​bringing together all the watchmaking expertise under one roof.

His idea was novel at the time, so it must have been difficult to find craftsmen to work with him.
However, more and more watchmakers who shared his passion gathered around him, and eventually Zenith was born.
At the same time, in 1865, the first group in the history of watches to carry out all aspects of watchmaking – a “manufacture” – was born.
When the company was founded, it was called "Manufacture de montres."
As an aside, following Zenith's lead, Florentine Arion Jones also established a manufacture in Schaffhausen in 1868.

Georges Favre-Jacot, who created the concept of the manufacture, is an indispensable figure in the history of watches, as he founded IWC.

Now, in this manufacture where all such know-how is gathered,
New manufacturing processes and machines were developed one after another, and the first chronograph was released in 1899, and just one year later, in 1900, it won a gold medal at the Paris World's Fair.

It was here, in 1911, that the company name "Zenith" was first added.
The word "Zenith" means the highest point in the sky, which represents the brand's concept of striving to make the best watches, and the star mark represents the zenith.

From its founding until the 1960s, the company won numerous awards, especially in chronometer competitions.
There are a total of 2,333 awards on record.
In 1969, more than 100 years after the company's founding, "El Primero," which means number one in Esperanto, was released to the world as the first ever automatic integrated chronograph, making its mark in the history of watches.

■ The Quartz Crisis and its Hero Charles Vermot

Zenith, which was famous until the 1960s with the El Primero and other models,
From 1970, just one year after developing the legendary El Primero in 1969, to the mid-1980s,
This caused a very difficult situation. The cause was the quartz shock caused by the quartz developed by the Japanese company Seiko.

In 1975, Zenith was ordered to stop manufacturing mechanical watches by the American company Zenith Radio Corporation, which had owned the company for the previous four years.

While the production of mechanical watches takes time and is extremely costly, quartz watches can be mass-produced.
Furthermore, the accuracy of the time was far more accurate than that of a mechanical watch, and its greatest feature was its low price.

This has rendered mechanical watchmaking an inefficient, costly and outdated process.
At the time, the birth of quartz shook the watch industry to such an extent.
The engineers protested at first, but they were unable to resist the powers that be.
Zenith eventually stopped producing mechanical watches and moved on to quartz watches.

However, there was one person who secretly opposed the decision.
That was Charles Vermot. After the order was given, he was in the midst of selling off the factory's machinery and several tons of parts.
He makes the decision to hide the machines and parts, knowing full well what may happen to him.
He meticulously classified the machines and parts and wrote down the entire production process in a notebook, confident that one day mechanical watches would see the light of day again.

Then, in 1984, nine years after Zenith switched to quartz, that time came.
At a time when the market was eagerly awaiting the return of mechanical watches, Charles Vermot returned the machines, parts, and blueprints he had hidden to Zenith.

At the time, the cost of machinery to make mechanical watches required a huge sum of money, totaling hundreds of millions of yen.
All the financial aspects were also cleared thanks to a machine hidden by Charles Vermot.
It is thanks to the courageous actions of Charles Vermot that Zenith still exists today.

1 El PrimeroThis series is equipped with Zenith's legendary movement, "El Primero."
As the name, which means number one in Esperanto, suggests, it was the first in the world to be developed at that time.
It had an integrated automatic chronograph movement.

Furthermore, the high accuracy achieved by the high-frequency design, which achieves 36,000 vibrations, is said to be the highest in the world for a chronograph.
Many of them have an open face, allowing you to see the "pulsating life" of the mechanical watch with your own eyes at any time.
They also collaborated with the legendary rock band "The Rolling Stones," who acted as ambassadors.
He is also known for wearing this collection during live performances, and a limited edition model was released for the occasion.

2. Elite
An automatic movement developed in 1994. Based on the El Primero, it was redesigned without the chronograph mechanism.
It is well known for being thin and durable.
This is another masterpiece that would never have been created if Charles Vermot had not hidden the El Primero manufacturing machine.
Its thinness and durability make it seem almost like a quartz watch, and it is a piece that shows off Zenith's craftsmanship.

3 Captain Most of the watches have leather bands. They are relatively affordable, costing around 500,000 yen. They have a sophisticated design for adults.

4 This collection features many Academy collaborations and limited edition models.
In 2012, Felix Baumgartner, a famous free-faller, climbed 39,000 meters into the air.
He successfully completed a free fall from the stratosphere, falling at speeds faster than the speed of sound, reaching Mach 10.
Zenith was the one who fully supported the project.
Zenith is honouring his achievement with a limited edition of 10 watches.

5. Pilot
These watches are reproductions of historical chronograph watches from the 1960s to the 1980s.
Despite being a pilot collection, it has an open-face design,
The fact that it retains a delicate side is something that is so typical of Zenith.

The 6 Star women's watch collection features a rounded design that is elegant and can be worn anywhere.
Of course, the brand's signature open face is still alive and well.