El Primero: Chrono­mas­ter Power Re­serve, Charles Ver­mot Limited Edi­tion

Plaza Watch International - - The Best of Baselworld 2014 - NR

This is a beau­ti­ful watch. It’s in­stantly strik­ing in a bold shade of blue with an aper­ture be­tween 9 and 11 o’clock show­cas­ing the leg­endary beat­ing heart of the El Primero move­ment. It also in­cor­po­rates mod­ern tech­nol­ogy by way of a sil­i­con pal­let fork and es­cape­ment wheel, but in ad­di­tion to the tech­ni­cal prow­ess and ap­peal­ing aes­thet­ics is a won­der­ful story… and who doesn’t like a good story. The watch is ded­i­cated to Charles Ver­mot, who is the sole rea­son Zenith can con­tinue to pro­duce the El Primero move­ment. In 1975, dur­ing the quartz cri­sis that threat­ened to crush the Swiss watch in­dus­try, the Zenith Ra­dio Cor­po­ra­tion de­cided to do away with me­chan­i­cal watches en­tirely and embrace an era of quartz. The company’s decision was un­shake­able and no ar­gu­ment for safe­guard­ing the means to cre­ate me­chan­i­cal watches would be heard. One hun­dred years of tra­di­tion in the form of metal presses, cut­ting tools and tech­ni­cal plans were to be lost. If not for Charles Ver­mot, who had worked for the Zenith Man­u­fac­ture for his en­tire ca­reer and was an ex­pert in chrono­graph move­ment con­struc­tion. Ver­mot averted trav­esty by stead­fastly hid­ing all the plans and tools within the man­u­fac­ture, keep­ing a writ­ten record of ev­ery tool and com­po­nent safely stashed away. As­ton­ish­ingly, he hid 150 presses that weighed more than a tonne each. When Zenith was ac­quired by new own­ers in 1978, and in­ter­est in re­viv­ing me­chan­i­cal watch­mak­ing was ex­pressed, Ver­mot un­veiled the large wooden crates he’d spent nine years filling up. He ex­pected no re­ward, but was sim­ply con­tent to have saved the knowl­edge and craft of cre­at­ing the El Primero move­ment. An every­day hero whose quiet in­sub­or­di­na­tion en­abled Zenith to re­launch pro­duc­tion of its leg­endary chrono­graph in 1984. A nice piece of heart-warm­ing his­tory for your wrist. Priced at $9,800 and limited to 1975 pieces.

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