On the eve of the 2019 Basel International Jewellery and Watch Fair, the Swiss watchmaker ZENITH Zenith welcomed a time seeker-Chen Yixun, the soul of the Chinese music industry and the global spokesperson for Zenith. At the 50th anniversary of the birth of EL Primero, which is proud of Zenith, Eason Chan left the exhaustion of the journey behind him, accompanied by Mr. Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, to visit this legendary watch factory Mysteries about time.
Zenith Global Spokesperson Eason Chan and Zenith CEO Julien Tornare
Extraordinary history classic legend
The Zenith watch factory is located in the west of the small town of Leloc, which is the only Swiss watch factory in the world that still stands on its site for nearly a century and a half. Not only that, it also took the lead in breaking the scattered distribution of various workshops, bringing together all watchmaking techniques in the same roof. Set the hour hand back half a century ago, where the EL Primero movement was born. EL Primero means “first” in Spanish, deserving its name: its birth has gone through seven years of exploration and development. It is the first integrated automatic winding column wheel chronograph movement in history. The field of mechanical watches is of extraordinary significance. ‘In 1969, it was possible to reach a tenth of a second accuracy, it was incredible!’ Chen Yixun sighed.
Eason Chan explores the mysteries of time at Zenith Factory
Speaking of the ups and downs of the EL Primero movement, the ‘legendary loft’ in the watch factory is an inevitable topic. Mr. Julien Tornare said: ‘It can be said that there was a rebirth of Zenith here.’ When the ‘Quartz Crisis’ swept the Swiss watchmaking industry, Zenith was forced to destroy the production tools of mechanical movements such as EL Primero. An ordinary watchmaker named Charles Wilmoer resolutely hides all drawings, parts and tools here. When the storm subsided, he presented the ‘treasure’ hidden here to Zhenli for the first time. Had it not been for the dedication, courage and persistence of this civilian hero, would EL Primero fade out of history and become a pitiful memory?
Eason Chan laments the extraordinary history of EL Primero in ‘Legend Loft’
From 1969 to 2019, the EL Primero movement continued to evolve, writing a timepiece legend for Zenith. In 2017, Zenith subverted the traditional concept, with the DEFY EL Primero 21 movement once again breaking the chronological limit, leading the watchmaking industry into the era of one hundredth of a second. At present, Zenith is poised for a challenge to the thousandth of a second for the ultimate in precision and excellence.
The secret of self-transcendence in this half century is hidden in the rigorous and innovative watchmaking workshop of Zenith. From electric spark machine tools with cutting accuracy of one-thousandth of a millimeter to five-axis machining centers that can directly produce complex micro-parts, various precision instruments in the workshop are in order. After the parts are processed, they must enter the testing laboratory for rigorous inspection. Only parts with perfect workmanship can be assembled.
Eason Chan experiences assembling movement components at a watchmaking table
Eason Chan learned that Zenith has always insisted on self-produced movements. From the movement design, substrate polishing to parts assembly, a sophisticated EL Primero movement consists of hundreds of parts and requires more than 20 watchmaking It took the craftsman 9 months to complete. Under the guidance of a senior watchmaker, Eason Chan boarded the watchmaking table and personally experienced the assembly process of an EL Primero movement. ‘When I screwed a screw on EL Primero, I felt as if I had entered the wonderful world of this movement.’ Eason Chan said.
Eason Chan is immersed in superb watchmaking skills
The short visit was about to end, but Eason Chan was still overwhelmed. The reason why Zenith can create miracles again and again and set a new record in the watchmaking industry is behind countless watchmakers’ day-to-day commitment, amazing patience and superb technology. And this insistence and persistence in precision, inheritance and innovation makes him even more sure that he fits the soul of Zenith. ‘Persist in faith in the things you love, every second must be true. It is a tacit understanding between me and Zeni. In the future, we will also devote ourselves to the pursuit of higher peaks.
Eason Chan at Zenith Factory