Zenith - The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI Hong Kong Saturday, November 28, 2020 | Phillips

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  • Manufacturer: Zenith
    Year: Circa 1971
    Reference No: A3818
    Case No: 232E903
    Model Name: El Primero
    Material: Stainless steel
    Calibre: Automatic, cal. 3019 PMC, 31 jewels
    Bracelet/Strap: Crocodile
    Clasp/Buckle: Stainless steel Zenith pin buckle
    Dimensions: 37mm diameter
    Signed: Case, dial, movement and buckle signed
    Accessories: Accompanied by Zenith fitted presentation box.

  • Catalogue Essay

    Stunning the community with their groundbreaking release of the El Primero in 1969, Zenith innovated one of the most important self-winding chronograph calibers of the 20th century. As the very first self-winding chronograph wristwatch manufactured by the firm, the production of the El Primero was temporary ceased in 1975 amidst the devastating Quartz crisis. With an order from above to demolish the machinery, blueprint and basically anything to do with the build of the El Primero, it was believed for a second that mechanical watches were no longer necessary.

    However, Charles Vermont, a specialist in Zenith who assisted in the development of the caliber, took on his own risk to hide the equipment, blue print and components needed for the El Primero at the attic of the barn house located just above the road of the manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland. The heroic act of Mr. Vermont is the reason why the Zenith El Primero was re-established in 1984 as well as being the caliber selected for the new and Rolex’ first self-winding Cosmograph Daytona ref. 16520.

    The present Zenith El Primero ref. A3818 from circa 1970s is one of the early models that was produced by the firm before the production came to a halt. Regarded as one of the rarest El Primero references, it is believed that only 1,000 examples were produced. The present example features a mesmerizing blue dial with tachometer and pulsation scales, which is always a plus to witness on the dial of chronograph wristwatches. Furthermore, stamped “SP” inside caseback, the case is made by renowned casemaker Spillman. Presented in attractive overall condition, this present A3818 is certainly one not to miss for aficionados of chronograph timepieces.

  • 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. A3818
A very fine and rare stainless steel chronograph wristwatch with date, tachymeter and pulsation scales

Circa 1971
37mm diameter
Case, dial, movement and buckle signed

HK$46,000 - 78,000 

Sold for HK$138,600

Contact Specialist

Thomas Perazzi

Head of Watches, Asia
+852 2318 2031


The Hong Kong Watch Auction: XI

Hong Kong Auction 29 November 2020