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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
New to this forum so I thought I would just like to say hi to everyone and thanks to LouS for pointing me in this direction. I have been collecting watches for several years now and I have models from numerous manufacturers. I already own several Zenith models - a gold 1936 Tonneau with calibre 8 3/4F, a s/s El Primero Moonphase Chrono, purchased new in 2003, a bi-metal El Primero Captains Chrono, purchased new this year and a New Vintage 1965, also purchased new this year. Obviously Zenith have a disadvantage over here in the UK in that they have never had a very high profile and very few dealers, in fact the dealer who sold me my two new models this year has just informed me that they were no longer going to carry the brand. This seems very unfair to me bearing in mind they have only had it for just over a year and have always kept the display tucked away at the back of the shop. The low profile also means that there are a lot less vintage models available to collectors.
I have now decided to start limiting my purchases to vintage Zenith and JLC models. My main problem is that I do not know whether to concentrate on one particular model/calibre i.e. El Primero models or to collect various models from through the eras. I am not particularly bothered about making purchases that will increase dramatically in value as my collection is solely for my pleasure. However I do understand that if I want some of the rarer models I will have to pay more to begin with and that they are the most likely to increase in value in the future. Any suggestions would be most appreciated.
 

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Nice shots, Robin, and welcome to the forum! The chronomaster is a favourite of mine, and the Captains Chrono looks fantastic. I also have a soft spot for '30s tonneaus though I have none from Zenith. As to your collecting conundrum, you will eventually solve it yourself as your tastes develop with your experience in different watches. You can do no better than focusing on JLC and Zenith, 2 of Switzerland's finest and most storied manufactures! I am a great fan of the vintage JLC triple dates and Memovoxes. Alas modern JLCs (post 1980s) are beyond my means. A favourite (sorry, folks, to stray off-topic) is my 1946 JLC dress watch, cal. P450/4C movement gilded in gold and decorated in Geneva stripes, with stepped and beveled [plates and bridges - see photos attached.

Cheers,

Chris
 

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Hi and welcome to the forum,


the fact that Zenith is not very well known with the general public has its advantages.

IMHO all vintage Zenith's are desirable : for instance excellent hand wound watches from the 1950's as well as very fine automatics in the '60s (and '70s); simple watches with or without date as well as chronographs, handwound chronographs as well as vintage El Primero's, Sporto's and Pilots, Respirators, Captain's and Defy's and so on; there is a variety of watches to collect here. Lovely watches you have there, that 1936 tonneau is very classy. And the Chronomaster is already a classic as well.b-)
 

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Hi Robin and welcome to the forum. Great Zeniths you have, all of them. Moving into the vintage area will give you lots of satisfaction I am sure, and there are still plenty of Zenith models that are under-appreciated and so quite affordable. And then there are some that aren't but you have the choice.

Dave
 

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Welcome to the forum. Your collection already beats mine (and I am one of the mods!). My recommendation is just to collect what interest you. I would go for Zenith pocket watches but then, I actually wear them! The Cal. 135 is quite rare and collectible so you might go for one of those.....

Hartmut Richter
 

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Sidebar: That's a heck of a JLC, Chris.

Well, Robin, here are some themes for Zenith collections that suggest themselves

1. El Primero - kinda obvious, and not cheap, but darned satisfying what with Primero being the machine that it is. Within 'El Primero' there are perhaps two possible subthemes:
A) the original, pre-1975 watches. See
https://www.watchuseek.com/f27/overview-vintage-zenith-el-primero%92s-all-stainless-steel-models-1969-1975-a-586997.html https://www.watchuseek.com/f27/preliminary-notes-collecting-early-el-primeros-general-remarks-431440.htmlhttps://www.watchuseek.com/f27/prel...early-el-primeros-specific-models-431451.html
B) post-resurrection watches. A very interesting group explored by some of our members - there's the DeLucas, that beautiful titanium one that Chris has, and a host of others that I personally have not quite got the measure of, but interest me increasingly. Also not cheap, but perhaps not quite as pricey as the pre-1975 ones, as they are still IMO under-appreciated
2. Zenith chronographs as a whole. Not quite as interesting as other manufactures, at least until Primero comes along, but not without their appeal.
3. Zenith wristwatch chronometers - what a great lineage of movements and designs!
4. The Defy model line - Zenith's other 1969 model launch, somewhat overlooked in the shadow of Primero. Odd, original and lovely designs, I have become passionate about these lately. The epitome of 1970s design, they remain accessibly priced
5. Captains - I always thought it might be interesting to follow these models across time - it is a model line that badly requires some clarification, and I think it contains more variety than is apparent at first glance.
6. Respirators - although this one strikes me as a little monotonous.

there's a lot to like in Zenith, both common and rare, both inexpensive and exorbitant. You could easily just graze - a little of this and some of that - as the mood strikes you. You've made a heck of start. I'm personally really taken with that NV 1965.
 

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I love the 1965 you have, but my true interest in Zenith lies in the El Primero line. Since I wear all my watches, I shy away from examples that look like one another. I personally would make an exception for the square Class 4 but that's just me.

So variety is the spice of my EP life. Maybe try obtaining a clean example of models featuring each caliber: 3019PHC/PHF, 400/405/410/420, etc. I would also consider examples with low production numbers, though obviously harder to find and pricier when you do.
 

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Hi R, I just joined my myself. If you get a taste for the 70s, chronographs are my specialty. I devoted countless hours in study and learning the watch making trade. I joined this forum to help people with their el primeros, talk shop and because the Espada/Astronic are my all time favorite watches. welcome
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Good place to start: Manfred Rossler's book on Zenith watches - read before investing! BTW, my apologies for posting my JLC on this thread - on reflection, should have left it entirely to your theme!
Thanks to everyone for the warm welcome. I have the Rossler book and am working my way through it. As I said my collection is purely for my own pleasure and so far I seemed to be lacking in any particular direction. Maybe that's a good thing. I am going to do a bit more reading before deciding whether to continue with my current lack of direction and just buy pieces that appeal to me or to concentrate on one particular style/model/calibre.
By the way John Chris, no need to apologise for posting pics. of such a lovely piece, who wouldn't want to see that?
Once again thanks to everyone for the welcome
 

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oop, now I've done it...

"Look, all I said was....."


What I mean is that pre-Primero chronographs are usually simple two or three subdial chronos - elegant and sober to be sure, but not terribly original. Any further complications are simply Zenith rebrands of machines from other manufacturers, notably Gallet and UG. Zenith does not even have its own chrono caliber until it buys Martel, which let us recall, is an offspring of UG. At the same time, UG is realeasing Compaxes, Compurs, BI-, Tri-, Aero- and Dato-Compaxes since the late 1930s, literally hundreds of references. Gallet is similarly building date and compass complications on its own calibers, and issuing in all manner of specialized dials, as is Heuer, albeit with borrowed engines. Angelus has a Triple date Chronograph. Minerva has an elegant in house caliber upon which it is building interesting and original designs, as does Movado. Breitling develops the slide rule bezel. One begins to sense originality and inspiration in Zenith in the mid-1960s, which fairly explodes upon the introduction of Primero.
 

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Yeah, right, "what have the Romans ever done for us ?"

And what has Martel ever done for Zenith ?

Apart from supplying Zenith with all their handwound and automatic calibers for all their watches in the 1960s and 1970s, and let's not forget all the handwound chronographs, and apart from developing the Zenith El Primero, and the Zenith Espada chronograph...what has Martel ever done for us ???

IMHO Martel / Zenith could easily have made handwound triple date moonphase chronographs as well, but probably they didn't because anyway there is only a very limited market for those extra complications.

Of course Zenith was only a small company with a limited output and there are many others who also built interesting and beautiful chronographs.

oop, now I've done it...

"Look, all I said was....."
 

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The Defy model line - Zenith's other 1969 model launch, (...). The epitome of 1970s design, (...)
Very well said.

To get back to the chronographs, you wrote "UG is releasing Compaxes, Compurs, BI-, Tri-, Aero- and Dato-Compaxes since the late 1930s, literally hundreds of references". I'm wondering, were these UG chronographs all made by Martel ?
 

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To get back to the chronographs, you wrote "UG is releasing Compaxes, Compurs, BI-, Tri-, Aero- and Dato-Compaxes since the late 1930s, literally hundreds of references". I'm wondering, were these UG chronographs all made by Martel ?
I've often wondered myself. I don't think so. The situation is made very confusing by the fact that UG did not appear to modify its caliber nomenclature for complications. Thus, the cal 285 was used for a three-subdial chronogaph. Add a moonphase and triple date, and it is still a cal. 285.
According to Sala's book, Martel opened 1 Jan 1941, built in response to booming demand for UG chronograph ebauches, principally from Zenith (!). As a side note, UG and Zenith were co-advertising in several markets at that time, as amply documented in that book as well as on the italian fora, principally by our friend Nicola. But UG had its primary production facility in -obviously enough - Geneva, which I don't think it ever renounced. Interestingly, Sala makes no mention of the sale of Martel in 1960. After that time, though, it is clearly evident that UG continued to produce its Tri-Compaxes into teh 1970s, BUT it started to use Valjoux 72 in its simple chronographs. And Zenith started to use the 146. Of course, that doesn't tell us what was made at Martel and what wasn't, as the rights to movements could have been settled separately. But it is a clue.

This is the sort of historical question Nicola excels at - I'm sure he could give us a better answer...
 
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