When a young man named Georges Favre-Jacot made his first business move he probably wasn't aware that his company will grow to be one of the greatest names in watch-making.
At the zenith of watch-makingMartha Taylor-Brown ▼ Saturday April 17, 2010 6:01PM ET
Back in 1865, there were numerous small workshops in Switzerland in which local craftsmen created their timepieces, creating a new and exciting industry that will become the pride of their country. A 22-year old man saw the potential of all those experts and came to the brilliant idea: he brought all those masters under a single roof and created Zenith. What now looks familiar, back then was really a revolutionary idea which brought in three significant improvements: quality control, shorter manufacturing times and homogenous approach to the state of the art design.
What's even more stunning is that house number 34 in Rue des Billodes in the town of Le Locle was the starting point of Zenith and it remained the headquarters until today. So, when you buy a Zenith timepiece you can be sure that you own a watch produced from start to finish in the Manufacture of Le Locle. The manufacture produces literally all of its movements by itself. A wonderful achievement in today's globalized world, but in the other hand that's the approach that brought fantastic watches to the daylight.
And we have a proof for that: the Zenith watch company has won more than 1500 industry awards and created more than 50 calibers. However, despite wonderful watches, Zenith waited 104 years for its first star of the stars: the legendary "El Primero" chronograph movement. El Primero was the first chronograph caliber with integrated automatic winding and it beat the competition because while other manufacturers have been built chronographs with 28,000 alternations per hour, Zenith made it 36,000. The fastest chronograph thus became the only mechanical chronograph that can measure short time intervals to 1/10 of a second.
But technology paid no attention to the brilliance of Swiss watchmakers and quartz-driven watch arrived on the scene. That almost killed the traditional watch industry and just the true masters remained alive. Zenith was one of them. People at Zenith simply decided to preserve the machines and knowledge, believing that the time of mechanical movements and classical design will come back. Zenith was supplying other manufacturers with its El Primero movement and patiently waited. And the time has come.
The true lovers of the finest watch making realized that quartz wasn't the answer to their needs and wishes, and Zenith was here to provide. In 1999 the company was acquired by the luxury group Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy and under is umbrella introduced the new and very exciting new models.
From Class Lady Moonphase to Captain Class Dual Time and every model in-between, the craftsmanship and state of the art movements make Zenith "the one and only", and all other manufacturers can just follow Zenith's powerful crafting philosophy. A Zenith watch is a classic by itself, a piece of art and craft that will survive many generations to come. ■