Founded in 1865 by the visionary watchmaker Georges Favre-Jacot, the Manufacture houses some 80 watchmaking professions beneath its roof.

Whether exponents of the more artistic crafts or of ultra-technical skills, all are engaged in the task undertaken by Georges Favre-Jacot 150 years ago: that of mastering each gesture to enable free-spirited creation of mechanical marvels combining noble watchmaking traditions with avant-garde innovations. Famed for its legendary 1969 El Primero calibre enabling short-time measurements accurate to the nearest 1/10th of a second, Zenith has since developed over 600 movement variations. In this third millennium, based on this same DNA, but with renewed energy, the brand has blazed the trail for fascinating new vistas in time measurement with the launch of the Defy El Primero 21 and the Defy Lab. The former opened the world of hundredth of a second timing, a quantum leap in terms of performance and engineering, impressively combining the historic heritage of Zenith with the future of watchmaking; while the latter, winner of the Innovation Prize at the 2017 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève, challenged the very foundations of traditional watchmaking with the most accurate mechanical watch ever made. Energised by newly reinforced ties with a proud tradition of dynamic, avant-garde thinking, Zenith is writing its future… and the future of Swiss watchmaking.

Key dates

The founder of Zenith, Georges Favre-Jacot, united the various watchmaking professions under one roof.

Georges Favre-Jacot wins the gold medal at the Paris Universal Exhibition.

Zenith devises onboard instruments.

The Manufacture established by Georges Favre-Jacot definitively adopts the name of Zenith, referring to the highest point reached by a heavenly body in the sky and thereby symbolizing the heights of excellence to which the brand with the guiding star has been aspiring ever since.

Zenith launches its legendary Caliber 135. This legendary wristwatch chronometer movement equipped with a small seconds function was to earn no less than 235 prizes.

Launch of Caliber 5011K, boasting record-breaking precision in its category, which would be used to power marine chronometers, pocket watches and table clocks, as well as the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20 in a limited edition.

The watchmaker Charles Vermot hid the plans, parts and tools required to make mechanical calibres in order to save them from destruction following the decision of the company that owned Zenith at the time to limit production to quartz watches only.

Mechanical watches were again in demand, and Charles Vermot gave Zenith back the production tools that he had kept safely hidden. Production of the El Primero caliber could begin once more. Major watch brands were eager to get a fresh start in this field by equipping their timepieces with this movement.

Launch of the ultra-thin automatic Elite movement. The first Zenith caliber to be developed using Computer Assisted Design technology.

Zenith joins the LVMH luxury group.

The brand with the guiding star invents the Open concept based on a dial opening revealing the escapement of the El Primero caliber.

40e anniversaire de l’El Primero.

Zenith renews ties with aviation and enriches the Pilot collection with three new models: the Pilot Montre d’Aéronef Type 20, the Pilot Doublematic and the Pilot Big Date Special. The latter wins the “Petite Aiguille” prize in the 2012 Geneva Watchmaking Grand Prix. Zenith sponsors Felix Baumgartner, Austrian skydiver, who becomes the first man to break the sound barrier in freefall, jumping from the edge of the stratosphere from a space capsule. Zenith serves as official timekeeper for the milestone jump, with a Zenith Stratos Flyback Striking 10th containing Zenith’s El Primero movement.

GPHG Sports Watch Prize – Chronomaster El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th. Sporting the sky-inspired light grey, blue and anthracite hues chosen to grace Zenith El Primero dials in 1969, the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th wins the GPHG Sports Watch Prize.

GPHG Sports Watch Prize – Chronomaster El Primero Lightweight. The Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Lightweight wins the GPHG Sports Prize. Drawing upon the latest research on new materials, this El Primero lightweight chronograph teams a titanium and silicon movement with an ultra-sporty carbon case.

Zenith 150th anniversary and the Zenith El Primero: Chronomaster 1969. An ideal occasion on which to take a panoramic look back across its history, the revolutions it has created and the feats it has accompanied, Zenith celebrates its 150th anniversary with the launch of the Zenith El Primero: Chronomaster 1969, a 150-piece limited edition picking up the style codes of the original model while featuring a distinctly contemporary style epitomizing daring attitude and the enterprising spirit cherished by the brand.

Zenith DEFY El Primero 21 introduces 1/100th of a second mechanical accuracy. That same year, the Manufacture launches the DEFY LAB. Equipped with a new and astoundingly slim monocrystalline silicon oscillator unaffected by magnetic fields, gravity or temperature. Powering the watch industry into a whole new dimension, the incredible accuracy of the Defy Lab is encased in Aeronith, the world’s lightest aluminum composite material, representing a second world premiere in this landmark timepiece. this revolutionary Zenith DEFY LAB wins the GPHG Innovation Watch Prize.