Geneva Watch Week: Zenith El Primero Black and White

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Though not part of the SIHH, the LVMH group’s three brands released new watches during an informal showing the industry calls “Geneva Watch Week”, with chief Jean Claude Biver presiding over the launch in a boat anchored in the Geneva lake where traditionally the Richemont Le Boat was. In fact, it is perhaps even the same boat, but now dressed in LVMH colours and open all day. The launch was graced by the very youthful Mayor of Geneva, and the LVMH brands of TAG Heuer, Zenith and Hublot reveal novelties throughout the same duration as the SIHH.

For Zenith, the launch of the basic El Primero in a striking black and white variations. An intense black ceramicised case, chiaroscuro three-counter dial and sporty perforated rubber strap reveal a fascinating take on a watchmaking legend born in 1969. The Manufacture’s iconic El Primero 36’000 bph is used in to power the watches. Two timepieces are announced in this release- a black on white and a white on black.


The new Zenith El Primero, in black on white dial and in white on black dial.


The year 1969 was a historical year for the watch industry that saw Zenith present the El Primero. Alongside its high-frequency movement, El Primero also established the recognisable layout of its three counters – originally in anthracite, blue and light grey. The El Primero has become a part of the Zenith DNA for almost half a century.


White dial with black subdials. Black aluminium ceramicised case.


The original aesthetic that makes light of passing time and lends itself to infinite variations in terms of materials, styles and colours. The Zenith press release describes the new look as chiaroscuro interpretations. Chiaroscuro is in reference to the Italian (meaning light-dark) which is an oil painting technique, developed during the Renaissance, that uses strong tonal contrasts between light and dark to model three-dimensional forms, often to dramatic effect

The counters provide an attractive and complementary ‘visual opposites’ effect against a sunray-patterned ebony black or silver-toned base, punctuated by black luminescent facetted hour-markers and hands enhanced with bright red touches.


The famous El Primero high beat movement with column wheel chronograph. Beating at 36,000 bph, the movement is time tested and proven reliable.
File photo from our archives.


The movement, as with the name implies is the El Primero 36’000 VpH models houses a high-frequency column-wheel chronograph movement. Beating at 5Hz and powering a tenth-of-a-second display, the El Primero 400B calibre drives central hours and minutes functions, small seconds, chronograph and date, while ensuring a more than 50-hour power reserve. The domed sapphire crystal, round
push-pieces and knurled crown accentuate the powerful build of this 42mm chronograph. This beautiful mechanism and its oscillating weight – offering a fascinating visual counterpoint to the model’s binary colour codes – may be admired through the sapphire crystal back of the 100m water-resistant case.


The version with a black dial with white counters.


The watches are delivered with a sporty perforated black rubber strap secured by a titanium and black PVD-coated triple folding clasp. Full specs and prices to be updated.


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