ZENITH EL PRIMERO TV 'BIG BLUE' CHRONOGRAPH 1971

This is one mega-cool and... horrifyingly expensive... wristwatch chronograph. This Zenith has been nick-named "Big Blue" due to the size and dial color but is also referred to as "TV". The "El Primero" 3019 movement (aka 400) is a top-shelf chrono that is produced until today thus parts are easy to find however the vintage designs are far cooler than the modern makes. The "El Primero" is considered to be the first Automatic Chronograph in the World... what is both true and false. Back in the 1960's a few companies worked on the development of an automatic wristwatch chronograph with two main teams competing against the clock - Breitling&Heuer and Zenith. A detailed story about this competition has been written by Jeffrey Stein but in short words we can say for sure that both groups succeeded in their efforts in their own way.

 

 

Breitling&Heuer was first by launching a ready product the "ChronoMatic" in mid-1969 although Zenith introduced the controversial trademark of "El Primero" (The First) prior to that in early 1969... but without having any production prototypes. The "ChronoMatic" was a joint-venture of companies that outsourced the idea by applying a chronograph module to an already existing automatic Buren movement. The "El Primero" was an inhouse concept developed from scratch by an independent small manufacture. "ChronoMatic" is the first modular automatic chrono whereas "El Primero" is the first integrated and high-beat (36.000) automatic chrono. Now ask yourself... who was first? :) A side note... for many years Rolex had been using a modified Zenith 3019 calibre in their Daytona 4300 watches.

 

 

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Keywords: zenith chronograph, el primero, primero

Market value: 1200-2800$ (condition, box)

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