Zenith - The Geneva Watch Auction: SIX Geneva Friday, November 10, 2017 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Zenith
    Year: Circa 1973
    Reference No: 01.0040.418
    Case No: NR 50038-11
    Model Name: Sub Sea "Espada"
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3019, 31 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Stainless steel Zenith bracelet made by Gay Frères, max length 205mm.
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Zenith deployant buckle
    Dimensions: 40mm. Width, 44mm Length
    Signed: Case, dial and movement signed

  • Catalogue Essay

    It is quite interesting to see that in the very early 1970s, Zenith not only housed its newly created automatic El-Primero chronograph movement in a sports dive watch, but added a triple date and moonphase complication making the preset Sub Sea “Espada” one of, if not the first, complicated dive watches!! The name of the watch, printed boldly on the top part of the dial comes from the Spanish word “Sword”.

    The El-Primero debuted in 1969 as the brand’s first chronograph featuring an automatic movement. Unfortunately, in 1975 in the midst of the quartz crisis, Zenith decided to not only stop production of this movement but also destroy the machinery necessary to manufacture it. Luckily, in a strike of “corporate disobedience” Charles Vermont, a specialist who developed this caliber, hid the equipment required to make these watches and recorded the instructions to construct the design in a personal notebook. After years of being forgotten about, in 1984 the saved tools were put back to work and the production of the El Primero resumed, the rest as they say…is history.

    The present model with its undoubtedly 1970s swanky design, hefty case and bracelet, signed Gay Frères, is a true zeitgeist of a period of free thinking, artistic liberty and experimentation.

    Made in only 500 examples starting 1971 the present Espada seduces with its daring looks, complicated movement and rarity.

  • 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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◆ Δ124

Lot offered with No Reserve

Ref. 01.0040.418
A fine and attractive stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with day, date, month, moonphases and bracelet

Circa 1973
40mm. Width, 44mm Length
Case, dial and movement signed

CHF4,000 - 6,000 

Sold for CHF10,000

Contact Specialist
Alexandre Ghotbi
+41 22 317 81 89

The Geneva Watch Auction: SIX

Geneva Auctions 11 - 12 November 2017