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Timeless Timepieces

Some manual timepieces are so exquisitely handcrafted, so meticulously ordained with intricate details, they are like eighth wonders of the world. For watch collectors, these mechanical time pieces invoke a wide range of feelings.

Some individuals get a sense of accomplishment, others feel satisfaction. Some folks get angry whilst others may experience euphoria. Whatever feelings you may experience while visiting this page, I fervently hope to indulge your senses with a few watches that are considered under appreciated by some watch enthusiasts.

So regardless of which of your emotions get invoked, I do hope that you will enjoy these timepieces and the brief historical write-up that accompanies them.

Zenith El Primero Grande Class XXT Open Men's Watch with Crocodile Leather Strap

Zenith El Primero Grande Class

The Zenith El Primero movement first made it debut in 1969. According to FHH journal, the El Primero was initially code named "3019 PHC" then renamed "El Primero," meaning "The First," in Spanish.

In 1999, the Zenith brand was sold to LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) and the full acquisition was completed in 2001. The watch featured at left is the El Primero Grande Class XXT Open Men's watch. Manufactured date is somewhere in the vicinity of 2010-2012. This particular model 03 0520 0421, was developed under Zenith's new corporate owner LVMH, and has been wildly successful.

Featuring 39 jewels, a Stainless Steel Case and Stainless Steel fixed Bezel, it has a case dimension measuring 44 mm. Black Crocodile Leather Strap with a Stainless Steel Deployment Buckle, Scratch Resistant Sapphire Crystal, and Water Resistance up to 50 M/165 Ft.

The Famous El Primero Certified COSC Automatic Chronograph Movement beats at a 36,000 vibrations per hour (vph) - equivalency to 18,000 full oscillations or 5 Hz - and still manages to hold a power reserve of approximately 50 hours.

This Zenith El primero circa 2010-2012 is such an exquisite mechanical timepiece, designed to excite the senses. Watch enthusiasts and horologists will appreciate the clean lines, the defined bezel, the world renowned El primero movement and the novices will appreciate the fine craftmanship. First introduced by Zenith in 2003, the El primero open design showcased the intricately detailed mechanical heartbeat in an open window, pulsating at 36,000 vph.

Many folks did not know that the El Primero movement was also used in the Rolex Daytona Cosmographs during the early 1980's. As a matter of fact, according to FHH journal, Panerai, Boucheron and Daniel Roth all took advantage of the El Primero performance. After LVMH acquisition of Zenith, the business decision was to "reserve the movement's singular properties for its own brands" ( FHH Journal).

The El Primero featured here has a see-through stainless steel caseback made of Sapphire crystal glass. Some of the ruby jewelry can be seen embedded in the axles. The Zenith Logo is stamped on the mechanical flywheel and etched into the steel with an easy to read font.

On the crown, Zenith 5 point star can be seen as a raised stamp. Zenith has also been known to use a hollow 4 point star in previous years. Some watch enthusiasts referred to this design as a negative space 4 pointed star. Currently the 5 point star has been used on all of the latest designs such as the Zenith Defy, marketed with the slogan "Time to reach your star."

Interestingly enough, Zenith almost never reached their star - were it not for an unsung hero and dedicated worker named Charles Vermot. In 1971, the Swiss Manufacturer Le Locle Zenith was sold to the American owned Zenith Radio Corporation. In 1975, the newly invented EL Primero movement was condemned to the ash heap along with all the tooling equipment after American owned Zenith made a business decision to stop manufacturing mechanical movements. Charles Vermot and his brother saved the tools, inventoried parts and equipment - all without the consent of management.

Zenith continued to struggle financially under this new management and was inevitably resold back to the Swiss Zenith owners. Almost a decade later, the EL Primero movment would rise again after Ebel used it in some of their watches. Rolex came calling around 1982-83, expressing an interest in the El Primero for the Daytona Chronograph, offering Zenith a ten year contract, allegedly worth well north of 7 million Swiss Francs. There was one stipulation - the deal will be done only if Zenith could quickly resume production on the El Primero.

Sure enough, Charles Vermot knew they could because he had secretly hidden away the plans, and inventoried cutting tools equipment. Charles Vermot essentially saved Zenith by unearthing his hidden collection of equipment thereby saving Zenith. His meticulous recordkeeping, detailed instructions on the re-creation of the manufacturing process, and his binders consisting of route sheets and carefully labelled components and re-assembly of machinery - all contributed to putting Zenith back on solid financial footing.