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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I've got this idea which may add up to nothing at all. But indulge me a little. I want to compile a list of case numbers of early El Primeros with the goal of 1) verifying production numbers in Rossler, 2) ascertaining production sequences and batching and 3) seeing if it is possible to arrive at an approximate absolute dating of case numbers. I've been able to come up with data from 46 different watches between my own collection and my internet picture files. The more data, the better the final table will be, so I'd appreciate some data from the members. Post it here, or send it to me by PM. If you like, delete the last two digits of the case number.

The references covered include all of the early El Primeros, including gold refs, i.e A 384-385-386, A 3817-3218, A 3822, A 781-782-783, A 787-788, A 7817, 01.0140.415, G 381-382-383, G 581-582-583, G 7810, G 7813, G 20809
The data I need are
1) reference
2) case number
3) plain or NATO caseback
4) if there is a Gay Freres bracelet with the watch, the date on the inside of the clasp
5) any other means of dating the watch, e.g. caseback inscriptions, bills of sale, etc.
6) For those of you reporting A 385, please specify white or silver chronograph subdials

thanks in advance. The results of my analysis will of course be posted for the use of the forum.
 

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OK Lou, here goes:

A 384, 707D938, Nato caseback, GF 4/70
A 385, 904D008, Nato caseback, originally white sub-dials (but replaced with a vintage A385 dial with silver registers)
A 386, no case #, plain caseback, GF 3/71
A 782, 019E016, Nato caseback
A 788, no case #, plain caseback
01.0140.415, 249E764, Nato caseback

Can't give you the A 7817 (Espada) case # as it is in hospital right now, and I neglected to record it (it is very faint). It has a Nato caseback.

Hope this helps. Good luck with your research!

Chris
 

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A list of serial numbers of all the early Zenith El Primero's may be interesting. Don't know if those goals # 1 & # 3 will prove realistic, but I have good hopes for #2 (production sequences). Anyway I find it interesting. I for one am looking forward to the results. Could you perhaps already publish or pm that list which you have compiled?

I don't see a reason why not to include the A781-782-783 , A3822 and the 01.0140.415, especially since you are including the A3817-3818, A787-788 and A7817.

Actually I'm still no good with those reference numbers, but of course there is always this handy list (I'm mentioning it here for those like me who may need it to determine a model) :
An overview of vintage Zenith El Primero’s : all the stainless steel models (1969-1975)

Perhaps this project will help to ascertain whether the (chronological) order of the models in the overview is correct. E.g. is the A781 older than the A3818?

Here are a few numbers which I have observed :

Zenith El Primero A386 : 538D538; 922D859
Zenith El Primero G582: 485D462; 485D692
Zenith El Primero A782 : 018E694; 019E079
Zenith El Primero A788 : 056E655
Zenith El Primero A3817 : 231E866
Zenith EP 01.0140.415 : 249E735

Good luck with the project |>

 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thank you gentlemen, up to 60 separate watches. Interesting patterns emerging. At least one caseback (not among those you have reported to me here) may be a later manufactured replacement/forgery. I will of course share the data - I have no doubt others may see more patterns and information in it that I.



I don't see a reason why not to include the A781-782-783 , A3822 and the 01.0140.415, especially since you are including the A3817-3818, A787-788 and A7817.
Quite right, I am including them, I made a mistake in the initial post.

Any GayFreres bracelets with any of yours? Also, are those casebacks plain or NATO? I particularly interested in your A 386 #538D538 - NATO or plain?

Keep 'em coming, gents!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A385, 91010, plain
:think: That puts a wrench in the works. Case numbers are supposed to be in teh ### X ### format, where # are numbers, and X is a letter, A, D or E. Also, first instance of an A 385 with a plain caseback.
Mind posting a pic when you have a moment?
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
67 separate pieces recorded. Very clear info regarding production batches emerging. Please keep them coming! I have asked our Italian and French colleagues to contribute as well.
 

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A few from me.

A384 707D522 Nato GF3/70
A385 860D686 Nato GF3/71
A385 231E584 Nato
A386 233E321 Nato
A3818 232E905 Nato
A788 055E948 Plain

Dave
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
Thank you - now at 75 watches. An additional question has occurred to me. For those of you who have reported A 385s, please specify whether the chronograph subdials are white or silver.
 

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Thank you - now at 75 watches. An additional question has occurred to me. For those of you who have reported A 385s, please specify whether the chronograph subdials are white or silver.

Good idea:

A385 860D686 Nato, White subdials, GF3/71
A385 231E584 Nato, Silver subdials
 

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Possibly a non-original caseback to that model? Possibly not even originally a Zenith caseback?! From here, the "Zenith" in the centre looks a little thicker and a little shinier (newer?!) than the rest of the engravings.....

Hartmut Richter
 

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Hi Lou, I've got three for your data set ...

A3818 - 905 D 985 ("NATO")
A384 - 905 D 141 ("NATO")
A788 - 056 E 145 (plain back, engraved "Sub Sea" "Stainless Steel")

Best,
-Ez
 

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Looks to me like a Zenith Pilot-type caseback, given that it's anti-magnetic - but they usually had 7-digit case numbers, with ZENITH PILOT inscribed across the middle. It is odd to find the inscription "stainless steel back", which suggests that the case was NOT stainless steel. I'm pretty sure that the A385 didn't leave Le Locle with that back on it.
 
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