A brief look at the history of Zenith and the range at Monards.
Strolling down Collins St last Friday we happened to find ourselves standing at the front doors of Monards, a swiss watch retailer that stocks some very significant brands. Of course it caters for the usual Australian favourites, but it also offers products from a number of very impressive watchmakers such as Blancpain, Breguet, Ulyesse Nardin, Vacheron Constantin and a personal favourite of mine Zenith. I was fairly surprised to hear the store stocked Zenith, I hadn’t seen them in a retailer before and I soon find out that’s because Monards are the only stockist in Australia for the brand.
Zenith have impressed me since the moment I became interested in horology. The brand has a rich and respected heritage known for accurate movements that traces back to the early 1900’s. Zenith was born in 1865 through the vision of a 22 year old gentleman names Georges Favre-Jacot. His vision was to bring a group of artisan watchmakers who worked from their homes together under the same roof thus improving the manufacturing process and quality control, allowing the watchmakers to pool resources and knowledge.
When I come to write these articles I strive to delve a little deeper than what my existing knowledge offers. This concept of bringing together a group of watchmakers by Favre-Jacot makes for a very interesting history in the early 1900s for Zenith. There has been much discussion throughout the internet forums about the ‘true’ history of the Zenith brand and their relationship with Universal (a.k.a. Universal Geneve) and also independent movement builder Martel. Prior to the release of their famous El Primero movement in 1969 Zenith had a reputation for producing excellent calibers that were known for their accuracy, taking out multiple Swiss Chronometer competitions in the 40s and 50s. This period provides a fascinating read for enthusiasts of not only Zenith but also Universal and the relatively unknown Martel brand who forged relationships providing base movements for each other and co-producing watches between the 30’s and 50’s. It would appear that Zenith have always been true to their early relationships honouring their partners in advertisements for products and business takeovers, notably the purchase of Martel by Zenith in 1958 where Zenith continued to produce it’s chronographs movements but left the Martel name on the building. I’m certainly no expert on this topic but it provides a very interesting insight into the the swiss watch industry in the early days.
Here’s a great link if you’d like to read more about it:
Horology hinges heavily on reputation and in my opinion Zenith has a stellar one. The El Primero movement was a big success for Zenith and a major factor in forging the reputation the brand has today. The El Primero movement, and consequently the brand, earned phenomenal recognition when Rolex employed it for their Daytona model, creating their own calibre 4030. The Zenith Daytona is one of the more sought after Rolexs and is often seen fetching prices higher than much newer Daytona models.
Zenith is a great brand and a very worthy choice for anyone looking for an interesting timepiece that will start a conversation. As I’ve said before choose brands that promote innovation, that push the boundaries in the industry and pushing boundaries is something Zenith are taking very literally, pairing recently with Red Bull Stratos to produce the El Premiero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th that Felix wore on his recent jump featuring the groundbreaking Striking 10th movement.
Finally these watches present good value for watches with true in-house movements, the Pilot Chronograph grabbed my attention instantly as did the Captain Moonphase in gold, running in at $7300 and just over $16000 respectively. Here they both are below, on the wrist and in the cabinet – honestly I couldn’t take the Pilot off, its immense.