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Hi, hope everyone is well. Car afficionados will understand this question. Over the years I have been tempted by Alfa's and Renaults. They are visually and aurally stunning, and they make cars for people who love to drive. When they are running like the way the maker intended they are hard to beat. But, both these brands, amongst others, have a bad rep for reliability and poor build quality. Ask an Alfisti about these issues and they will tell you that it is soul and character. Recently, I was seriously considering a new Clio Sport as a run-around. My mechanic, who is also a good friend of mine over 20 years told me that if I buy it, not to bring it to his shop, that he wouldn't be my friend anymore and that my mother is a *&#$. So I bought another Toyota.

Which leads me to this question: Would I regret buying a Zenith El Primero Striking Tenth? I have been thinking about this watch for a while, decided that in 2013 I would stop all the impulse buys on vintage pieces and put some money away each month and towards the end of the year she will be mine. But during my research I have found that a lot of Zenith buyers are having issues. Of course I am not going to be inspecting my new Zenith with an electron microscope but some of the dial detail and most alarmingly, problems with the movement are too much to ignore.
I have bought many brand new watches over the years, from Rolex, JLC, many Omega's and Seiko's. Apart from the Rolex Sub, all the others were complicated with triple date moonphases and chrono's. Not one of them ever gave me any problems or reasons to use the warranty.
The asking price of the El Primero, to me (I know it's subjective) is a significant purchase as I will be sacrificing a lot to save the money. It will be nearly a year of cutting down to just one espresso a day and packing my own vegemite sandwich to work for lunch.
The well documented problems with this watch, I observed that most of these are bought from non-AD sources such as Jomashop and Amazon. Could this be the problem?
If I do buy the Zenith, I would expect it to function as intended and be as reliable as my Rolex, Omega's and Seiko's. I am not like the Alfisti and accept the flaws as "soul and character".
So is Zenith for me, or just for the true believers?
Thanks in advance for your help.

cheers, Mike
 

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Discussion Starter #3

Nope.

I've 6 or 7 Zenith (4 El Primeros) and all are dead nuts reliable.
Thanks huntershooter,how did you purchase them? ie new from AD or grey market, used?

cheers, Mike
 

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It doesn't appear you own a 36000 frequency watch. You should be aware that the reason all watches don't beat at this freq is there is a trade off. The trade off is that parts wear out faster. That is supposedly the problem but I think it is somewhat overblown. Watches that run fast have greater wear. Having said that, the watch doesn't actually run any faster, just the balance wheel. Repair intervals are pretty much the same as most watches, costs are a little higher, similar to Rolex et al. The appearance of the second hand, like Rollies, is a big attraction. The movement has been around for a long time, over 40 years, and used in Rolexes for awhile.
 

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Fwiw my early 1970's Zenith AF/P with the 36,000 bph caliber 405 movement is running just fine. As long as you have the watch serviced I.think you can look foward to a lifetime of enjoyment.
 

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I think the brand Zenith should be associated more to Mercedes and BMW than Renault and Alfa: qualitatively we are talking about an house that takes great care of his models and it makes manufacturing (in the modern sense of the term).

For the rest I completely agree with Dacattoo.
 

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I think the OP is asking about issues with this specific model which is not like the usual El Primero.

Also, I remember seeing close up pics of this particular model which was less than attractive for watch of this caliber.

I also do not know what problems would one have due to unusual speed at which the chrono second hand moves in this particular model have in longevity of the watch or any adverse effect it can have on the service interval if you use the chrono function with any regularity. The force exerted in stopping the chrono hand must be very high as well compared with other chrono watches.

Sent from my DROID3 using Tapatalk 2
 

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I'm not a Zenith expert by any stretch, but I do spend way too much time on the forum and I haven't seen many complaints or problems with their watches.
 

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I am not only poor, I also don't particularly like any of the Zeniths I have seen so do not own any, however I am yet to hear any issues regarding reliability.

On a side note it seems that the antipodeans have a much higher opinion of Renault than we do in the UK.
 

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As far as I can tell (from observation of the forums), Zenith is a very reliable maker. Assuming they haven't been asleep at the wheel, making one series of movements like the El Primero for so long would naturally weed out trouble spots. High beat watches do not break more often assuming the maintenance schedule is followed reasonably well...they tend to take one year off of the maintenance interval, but other than that, no issue. Even then, there is at least one maker that has the ordinary service schedule for their high beat watch (although it's not Zenith).
 

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I'm not a Zenith expert by any stretch, but I do spend way too much time on the forum and I haven't seen many complaints or problems with their watches.
I agree, this thread is the first time I've heard of these problems. A Zenith should be a safe buy.
 

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I'm not a Zenith expert by any stretch, but I do spend way too much time on the forum and I haven't seen many complaints or problems with their watches.
I'm more concerned with the CS than anything else... things happen... I would like to see that they get handled as well as the experiences I've had with Bremont and Montblanc.

PS Hey you sold your Pan Europe finally I see it has disappeared from your sig. Congrats:)
 

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I have never heard of reliability problems with Zenith; however, having seen the Striking Tenth in an AD, I must say it is BIGger than I'd thought it would be. The chrono seconds hand is quite fun to play with tho :D
 

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I understand the analogy but if it is meant to imply that Zenith watches have certain stylistic flair but are plagued with a lack of reliability, I haven't heard of it until now.

On the other hand, i could look at Zenith as sort of the 'alternative' choice in your analogy. Mercedes, BMW, for example could be likened as the safe mainstream choices like Rolex and Omega. And Zenith like Alfa is a little more offbeat with a little more flair that attracts primarily aficionados not status seekers - yeah, I can see what you mean.
 

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I would compare Zenith to Audi rather than Alfa. People classify Rolex(Mercedes) and Omega(BMW) as the good n mainstream brands but under-rate Zenith(Audi) probably because they don't market as aggressively.

As far as I know after being on the forum for almost a year, I haven't heard any complains regarding a Zenith thus far.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Thank you all for your input. Although I am encouraged by what I am hearing, here I will adress some of your replies.


It doesn't appear you own a 36000 frequency watch. You should be aware that the reason all watches don't beat at this freq is there is a trade off. The trade off is that parts wear out faster. That is supposedly the problem but I think it is somewhat overblown. Watches that run fast have greater wear. Having said that, the watch doesn't actually run any faster, just the balance wheel. Repair intervals are pretty much the same as most watches, costs are a little higher, similar to Rolex et al. The appearance of the second hand, like Rollies, is a big attraction. The movement has been around for a long time, over 40 years, and used in Rolexes for awhile.
Thanks dacattoo, but my concerns aren't about whether the watch plays up in two, five or ten years down the track. For a watch this complex and at this price, I would follow the manufacturer's servicing requirements religiously. If the watch had issues two or three years down the track, I could accept that. What I am concerned about is reflected, for example in some of the links I have provided below such as movement problems and dial finishing amongst other things which would be discovered immediately or not long after acquiring the watch.

I agree, this thread is the first time I've heard of these problems. A Zenith should be a safe buy.
I would compare Zenith to Audi rather than Alfa. People classify Rolex(Mercedes) and Omega(BMW) as the good n mainstream brands but under-rate Zenith(Audi) probably because they don't market as aggressively.

As far as I know after being on the forum for almost a year, I haven't heard any complains regarding a Zenith thus far.
See below:

https://www.watchuseek.com/f27/repair-refund-new-captain-chrono-796547.html

https://www.watchuseek.com/f71/zenith-el-primero-striking-10th-under-microscope-82-pics-772368.html

Check corrado's posts:

https://www.watchuseek.com/f27/what-you-wearing-today-whatever-current-day-date-615220-27.html

cheers, Mike
 

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Lol, my dad is an Alfisti. I can't tell you how many times he has broken down in his Milano. Those cars are straight up money pits. Cool, and fun to drive but so are lots of other cars.

I dont know anything about Zenith, I just wanted to chime in about the Alfas.
 
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