ZENITH ESPADA first and second series (1972-75): an overview
Here's a new thread, with the results of the research during the past few years concerning the Zenith Espada chronograph.
The Zenith Espada was the world's first automatic chronograph with full calendar and moonphase: an extraordinary watch.
Vintage Zenith collectors often have to rely on the Zenith "Bible" to find out more information: 'Zenith, Swiss watch manufacture since 1865' (Manfred Rössler). But unfortunately the information in Rössler is not always wholly exact and complete.
This also goes for the Zenith Espada: Rössler does mention the two existing references (ref. A7817 and 01.0040.418), but he doesn't mention any differences between them and he gives only one production number (and year): "300 items, produced in 1971".
More research was necessary. I was interested in the rare Espada chronograph, so I researched it a little further.
What could I do? I started with posting some questions on the forum regarding the production numbers and characteristics of the Espada chronograph.
Forum member Nicola1960 from Italy helped a lot to resolve these questions. Forum members John Chris and Gombrich also shared their knowledge and examples of ref. A7817 and 01.0040.418 chronographs.
A few key elements came from Zenith themselves, through their replies (years ago) to Italian forum members. The most important message was this one:
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"There were exactly produced :
300 pieces with engraved 3 numbers, a letter and 3 numbers" (this is an old style Zenith serial number)
500 pieces with the reference 01.0040.418
They are all Espada's."
Further research led to the conclusion that there are more differences between the first and second series:
- different dials and crowns: the first series Espada (ref. A7817) originally had the Zenith 5-pointed star logo on the dial and the 4-pointed star on the crown, whereas the second series Espada (ref. 01.0040.418) originally had the new square Zenith 'inverted star' logo on the dial and on the crown. However, dials and crowns can easily be swapped, and are in fact often renewed during service. A first series Espada may thus have received a second series dial and/or crown during service, and a second series Espada may have received a first series dial and/or crown during service.
- therefore the different cases of the two series are the really distinctive feature. A watch case may get polished during service, but it is normally not swapped.
It has already been mentioned in the mail by Mrs. Piccirilli above: the ref. A7817 had an old style serial number engraved, and the ref. 01.0040.418 instead had its model number.
Later I found out what the serial number of the Espada ref. A7817 was : it began with the number 322 E xxx.
However, these old style serial numbers were small, the engraving was done superficially and is easily polished out during service.
Fortunately there is a more obvious difference, and not so easy to polish away: the first series Espada has a big 4-pointed Zenith star on the back, the second series Espada has a plain back.
There are still more differences: the second series has the new model number and 'sub sea stainless steel' in big writing on the outer edge of the caseback, it has the new Zenith logo on the inside etc.: but you can see all the details in the following overview.
Since the Movado Astronic is similar to the Zenith Espada, I have also included it in the overview. However production numbers for the Astronic are unknown. You can often read the claim on the internet that there were "only 100" made of the Astronic, but I don't believe that, there are plenty of examples around, IMHO the Astronic is less rare than the Espada.
So here are the pics:
First series Zenith Espada (ref. A 7817, 300 pieces were produced in 1972):
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First series Movado Astronic (ref. 01.0010.436):
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Conclusion : the first series Zenith Espada and Movado Astronic both have the Zenith star on the caseback and both have on the inside the text "MZ swiss made acier inoxydable modèle déposé NA 50038-11".
The first series Movado Astronic caseback additionally has on the outside (on the outer edge) the writings "super sub sea stainless steel 01.0010.436", and on the inside the Movado logo and name were added.
The first series Zenith Espada's additionally has a Zenith serial number on the outside : "322Exxx". A few (even rarer) transitional Zenith Espada's of the first series also have the new Zenith model number "01.0040.418" engraved.
Note that the Zenith serial number and transitional model number for the first series Espada were engraved in small writing on the center part of the caseback (not in big writing on the outer edge as the Astronic and the second series Espada have it).
Two transitional samples of first series Zenith Espada's (ref. A7817) where you can see both the Zenith serial number and the new model number.
Second series Zenith Espada (ref. 01.0040.418: 500 pieces were produced in 1973-75):
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Second series Movado Astronic (ref. 01.0010.436):
Conclusion: the second series Zenith Espada and Movado Astronic both have plain casebacks (without the star).
Both have the text "sub sea stainless steel" and the model number in big writing: 01.0040.418 for the Espada and 01.0010.436 for the Movado. Note that the model number for the Movado is now engraved on the center part of the caseback, whereas the model number for the Zenith is on the outer edge.
On the inside of the second series Espada we see the new square Zenith logo in small (positioned slightly above the center) and just below the center the writing NR 50038-11. This number is the same as in the first series Espada, which however in front has the letters NA instead of NR.
There is no direct information available concerning the exact production date of the Espada. However through information from Zenith archives in an e-mail from Mrs. Piccirilli, it has been established that the Zenith El Primero ref. 01.0140.415 was produced in 1972. This El Primero has a similar case as the first series Espada and a similar serial number, which is lower than the serial number of the Zenith Espada chronograph.
This leads to the conclusion that the first series Zenith Espada chronograph was most likely not produced before 1972 and probably not available in shops before 1973. The production date of the second series Zenith Espada (ref. 01.0040.418) can then be estimated : 1973-74.
I have not shown any pictures of the dials (or crowns), since these cannot be relied upon to distinguish the first and second series Espada.
However, in this Zenith Espada overview I should include at least one pic of the front, so, on the occasion of its 41st birthday, here is a pic of a Zenith Espada ref. A7817.
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The above research was mainly done by myself and Nicola1960, and I thank Nicola for that.