When it comes to finding that ‘holy grail’ watch, long gone are the days of tireless searching, dubious deals and questionable provenance. With technology overhauling the vintage market and the brands themselves getting in on the act, it’s now easier than ever to lock down that special piece quickly and, importantly, while purchasing with confidence.
Zenith is one such name leading the way with ‘Icons’, a curated collection of its sought-after past models that have been sourced, restored and certified in-house. The latest additions see a covetable trio of early examples of its ‘Mark I’ El Primero models from 1969. Each is displayed in a fittingly splendid style in the boutique at the Zenith Manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland, in a presentation box handcrafted from wood from the surrounding forests. Meanwhile, for those that can’t make the journey, they are also available online.
The historically significant G581 was one of the first references to house Zenith’s famous high-frequency caliber. The yellow-gold case lends a luxe edge to this chronograph, combined with a ‘panda’ dial with contrasting black counters. With a single batch of just 150 produced, it is one of the rarest El Primeros.
Bolder still is the G582, which combines a gold case with a matching-coloured dial. At once both elegant and sporty, its features, including the date window at 4:30, the tachymeter scale and the paddle-shaped chronograph second hand, would become signatures of the watch.
Elsewhere, the A386, with its distinctive tri-colour dial, would set the design codes for the El Primero for decades to come. The timepiece features a slimline bezel-less round case with pump-style pushers, while this particular example belonged to the first production batch, endowing it with unique and covetable details including different seamless lugs and a flat case back.