Zenith has prepared a limited edition of its Chronomaster Power Reserve model which is launched as a tribute to Charles Vermot, the man who enabled the rebirth of El Primero watches. The foreman in one of the workshops of the Le Locle based watchmaker defied the company’s management decision during the mid 1970s and the famous crisis of mechanical watches which was caused by the emergence of quartz driven timekeepers. When the brand decided to terminate all the production of mechanical timepieces and the equipment needed for its production, visionary Vermot hid the plans and tools that ultimately brought to the resurrection of legendary high-frequency chronographs. The latest tribute to the savior of El Primero is a steel cased watch with a skeletonized blue face with exposed balance. It also includes a leather strap in the same color and it runs on the manufacture caliber El Primero 4021. There are 1975 pieces from the limited series of El Primero Chronomaster Charles Vermot that will be sold at the price of $10,445.
A Visionary Who Refused to Destroy the Brand’s Legacy
The story of how Vermot saved El Primero is very interesting and sounds almost like fiction. During the 1970s (or to be more exact, between 1971 and 1978), the Le Locle watchmaker was owned by the American based Zenith Radio Production company. When quartz modules shook the industry completely, the management of the firm opted to abandon all of their mechanical watches, together with their legendary El Primero chronograph which premiered in 1969. The decision seemed irreversible, since they decided not only to stop the production, but also to sell all the equipment as scrap metal, thus completely abandoning the brand’s century old tradition.
Fortunately, the brand had an employee who was not so near-sighted and who decided to do something against this. The man in question was Charles Vermot, the foreman in the brand’s workshop 4. With the management unsuspecting to his intention, Vermot was able to preserve not only the technical plans, but also cutting tools and even 150 presses with the overall weight of more than a ton. Each of these tools and plans was taken to obscure and unused attic of the manufacture by Vermot who has been involved in creation of the famed 5 Hz chronograph from the start.
New Ownership and the Rebirth of the Famed 5 Hz Chronographs
When the brand with the guiding star logo once again changed owners in 1978, the new strategy was to revive the production of the mechanical movements that brought fame to Zenith. However, without necessary plans, tools and even staff who left the company in substantial numbers, this was very hard if not impossible. Then came Vermot as some sort of deus ex machine and referred the new owners to the bunch of crates at the attic which were filled with all they needed to start producing the iconic El Primero chronographs once again. A few years after this, in 1985, Zenith was able to reintroduce its legendary movement.
The new watch that will be launched as a tribute is by no means the first homage to Vermot. In 2011, there was also a watch that honored Vermot. Just like the latest one, that one was too issued in a restricted series of 1975 pieces which signify the year in which Zenith’s management decided to switch completely to the production of quartz watches. Unlike the previous version, the new watch does not include tri-compax layout of the dial, but has a 30-minute counter, coupled with a retrograde remaining power reserve indication on a small seconds display.
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Power Reserve Model in the Essence
In fact, the new timekeeper is only a special limited edition of Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Power Reserve watch, issued only in a different color than it is usual. This time, the dial of the watch is blue. The cool trait of the watch’s face is that it includes a skeletonized portion on the upper left part that reveals the functioning of its fast-paced balance. A pretty busy dial also includes a tachymetric scale on the outskirts, a power reserve indication at the bottom and a small seconds counter at the far left section. Moreover, there are faceted, luminous and rhodium plated hands and hour markers, as it can be seen through its domed sapphire crystal with a double glare proof treatment.
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Charles Vermot is placed inside a round and 42 mm wide stainless steel casing with a transparent rear side, as well as the construction that allows waterproofness to 100 meters. Inside the case beats self-winding El Primero 4021 chrono movement with 39 jewels and 248 parts altogether. The movement with the width of 13 ½ lignes and the height of 7.85 mm has a supported power reserve of 50 hours, while its oscillating weight used to refill its storage comes with the Geneva striping pattern decoration. Naturally, as all El Primeros, it has the frequency of 36,600 vph.
A blue dial with a sunray pattern is matched with an alligator leather strap in the same tone. The wristlet features protective lining made of rubber and it fastens with a triple folding clasp made of steel. The watch will be available at the price of $10,445.