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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
As often happens I've started finding myself drawn to this brand and they seem to be cropping up a lot on my searches and from looking at random buying sites.

Obviously it would make sense to post this question in the Zenith forum but that seems a little pointless as everyone on there will be a fan and tell me they are marvellous. My area of interest is mid 50's through to around 1970 in terms of style and design. And the Sporto models seem to be within my general budget area.

Anything to look out for or models to avoid? I believe they went to more generic movements in the early 70's and then went downhill with new owners in the 70's?
 

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Of course there are those on the Zenith Forums that can tell you more about the brand, but in general terms, they are a very high grade watchmaker. Like other mechanical watches, the brand suffered in the aftermath of the quartz revolution and this is perhaps what you're referring to. There's a great blog site covering most of their movements and it's worth looking at. Vintage ZENITH movements
Their movements are high quality enough to have been used by Rolex in one of their Daytona models, and so I'd suggest that this vote of confidence should suggest the level they exist at. They are a true manufacture, so your comment about "more generic movements" isn't really something I agree with.
The cal 106.6 and 40T are used in the model ranges you mention. Good solid movements, nice gilded plates and relatively easy to source parts for. I think they are undervalued in general. The brand has new life in it, and they are coming out with some very nice pieces.
Sportos are a good place to start. Early Pilots as well. Captains, too. I have several Respirators and rate them very highly, but these in particular you must be careful about, as there is a a steady stream of questionable ones on eBay.
 

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PS: I just had a snoop around eBay and I have to say that I was disheartened to see the large number of crappy vintage Pilots out there. Caveat emptor, as always. There is, for example,a seller in Thailand with acres of Pilots and Respirators, most of which have been listed for years now (really!); their dials are fanciful refinished rubbish for the most part. And they are very highly priced for what they are. Just my opinion, of course…
As always: buy the seller, not the watch and by all means pop anything you're interested in up here for comment; there are some guys here who know these models inside out.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
PS: I just had a snoop around eBay and I have to say that I was disheartened to see the large number of crappy vintage Pilots out there. Caveat emptor, as always. There is, for example,a seller in Thailand with acres of Pilots and Respirators, most of which have been listed for years now (really!); their dials are fanciful refinished rubbish for the most part. And they are very highly priced for what they are. Just my opinion, of course…
As always: buy the seller, not the watch and by all means pop anything you're interested in up here for comment; there are some guys here who know these models inside out.
Thanks for that. I have to say Thailand is on my list of countries I wouldn't buy anything from.
 

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Zenith are the best in terms of precision: Zenith holds the all time record for chronometer prizes. That is as far as the quality of the movement is concerned. As for the quality of the execution in design, Zenith also ranks among the best.
 

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Hi,

New to watches and to WUS. I recently bought an Omega Seamaster from the fifties and am curious about vintage Zenith. I'm thinking an old Sporto would be comparable. Am I right to think that? Also, spotted this one on Chrono24. Any thoughts? I appreciate having some experienced eyes on it so I could get an idea for what is a poor/fair/good/great example of this watch. Basically, I wanna know what to look for.

Zenith Vintage Sporto Cal. 120 for $494 for sale from a Trusted Seller on Chrono24
 

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Hi,

New to watches and to WUS. I recently bought an Omega Seamaster from the fifties and am curious about vintage Zenith. I'm thinking an old Sporto would be comparable. Am I right to think that? Also, spotted this one on Chrono24. Any thoughts? I appreciate having some experienced eyes on it so I could get an idea for what is a poor/fair/good/great example of this watch. Basically, I wanna know what to look for.

Zenith Vintage Sporto Cal. 120 for $494 for sale from a Trusted Seller on Chrono24
Well the dial has patinated not in a pretty way while case was polished a lot. The combination of them looks ridiculous
 

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As others and Habitant point out, they are extremely high quality watches and one of the few with an e2e manufacturing process going way back, designing all their own movements. Of course the el primero 36k hi beat chrono is legendary - but there's also the interesting story of the engineering employee who during the quartz 'crisis' In mechanical watches in the 70s was told to get rid of all the machining tools for making mechanical watches as management thought Quartz would dominate for ever and luckily he hid the equipment in the basement which was subsequently returned to usage and zenith glory later on when new management was put in place or at least the old management stopped drinking excessively as the original request was pretty stupid !

Being from the U.S. The brand isn't as sell known there so i wasn't very familiar until recently and I have a modern EP I love, cheers Scott


Sent from SDA's iPhone using Tapatalk
 

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Agree with laikrodukas. As he points out, this isn't the best example of one of what is a nice vintage Zenith model. I probably would go for a stainless steel case, myself, as long as it wasn't polished to a mirror. The movement, cal 120 is a classic Zenith and should run nicely after service. Look also for those with calibre 40T, which you can sometimes find in an 'oversize' 37mm case. Very contemporary size for a vintage watch.
 

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I personally am a big fan of Zenith. They are still a bit undervalued compared to Omega f.e. and have outstanding quality. Indeed a Sporto, Autosporto or Respirator is a good way to start. Good luck with the hunt!
 
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