Zenith - START-STOP-RESET: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs Geneva Friday, May 13, 2016 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Zenith
    Year: Circa 1945
    Reference No: 796’131
    Case No: 8’474’301
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Manual, cal. 143-1-3, 17 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Leather
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel
    Dimensions: 35mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed
    Literature: A similar watch is pictured in Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865 by Manfred Rössler page 224. A similar watch with unsigned dial appears on the cover of Chronograph Wristwatches: To Stop Time, Gerd-R Lang, Reinhard Meis.

  • Catalogue Essay

    The present wristwatch is an extremely rare example of a sextant chronograph made by Zenith in the mid 1940s. This unusual, hardly ever seen timepiece indicates time in 12 hour and 24 hour formats via an additional, central red hand. The latter, tipped with the letter N for North, made it possible to also calculate compass directions. When the wristwatch is horizontal and the hand hour points towards the sun, the
    red index points to north.

    An additional winding crown located at the 9 o’clock position enables the wearer to stop the movement and consequently the seconds hand. When releasing the button the movement starts running again, a feature that is most useful to pilots synchronizing their watches or when setting the watch to the second according to a radio signal. We have not found any trace of a similar Zenith being offered at auction, another example has been found by us but with a white dial. It is offered in immaculate overall condition, with a pristine black lacquered dial and absolutely crisp case that has never been polished.

    The timepiece presented here is one that will make the heart of any collector beat faster, as it combines rarity, extraordinary condition, and an extremely rare complication.

  • Artist Biography


    Swiss • 1865

    Since Zenith's beginnings, founder George Favre-Jacot sought to manufacture precision timepieces, realizing quality control was best maintained when production was housed under one roof. Zenith remains one of the few Swiss manufacturers to produce their own in-house movements to this day.

    Today, the brand is best known for the "El Primero," the firm's most successful automatic chronograph movement. In an interesting twist of fate, the company that owned Zenith during the 1970s decided to move on to quartz movements and therefore sought to destroy the parts and tools necessary to make mechanical movements. One watchmaker realized this folly and hid the tools and parts before they were destroyed. In 1984, he returned them to Zenith so they could once again make the El Primero movement.

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Ref. 796’131
An extremely rare and highly attractive stainless steel chronograph with black lacquer dial, red 24-hour hand and additional crown to stop the seconds.

Circa 1945
35mm diameter
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF10,000 - 20,000 

Sold for CHF46,250

Contact Specialist
Livia Russo
+41 22 317 81 86

START-STOP-RESET: 88 Epic Stainless Steel Chronographs

Geneva Auction 14 May 2016