Zenith was founded in 1865 by Georges Favre-Jacot, who was one of the first visionaries to unite all the watchmaking professions under one roof into what we now call a manufacture. In 1899 he invented the first pocket chronograph and in 1900 he won the gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition. Zenith is probably best known for its 1969 El Primero movement that measured time to the nearest 1/10th of a second. More recently, the brand has taken time measurement to the extreme with the launch of its Defy El Primero 21 and Defy Lab with time measurement divided into the 1/100th of a second.
Five interesting facts about Zenith
1 – The zenith name
The name Zenith comes from the astronomical term for the highest point reached by a heavenly body in the sky. This is also why Zenith chose a star as its logo.
2 – Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner
Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner was wearing a Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th when he broke the world record for the highest jump. Jumping from 39 km above the Earth, Baumgartner made a supersonic freefall from a helium balloon, reaching speeds of 1,357 km/h and breaking numerous skydiving records.
3 – Zenith’s CEO, Julien Tornare
Zenith’s CEO, Julien Tornare, spent 12 years as a champion water-skier, competing for his native Switzerland.
4 – The El Primero movement
Zenith made thousands of El Primero movements for Rolex and its Daytona collection between the years 1988 to 2000.
5 – The Savior: Charles Vermot
When Zenith decided to abandon mechanical movements for quartz production in the 1970s, the knowledge to make the El Primero movement was almost lost, Thankfully one of Zenith’s watchmaker, Charles Vermot, had the foresight to hide all the El Primero machinery and technical information in the attic, which he was able to retrieve later and save the brand.