Zenith Marks 50 Years of El Primero with 50 Reasons and A Star Through Time Exhibition
50 years ago, a legendary chronograph would be born, eventually accompanying a man to the edge of space and break the sound barrier. The story of Zenith is very much about heroes like Vermot and Baumgartner.
2019 is a milestone year for Zenith – The El Primero aptly translated “The First”, was herald of the world’s first independently developed automatic chronograph. For 5 days, the Le Locle manufacture brought their immersive Le Monde Étoilé experience to Singapore’s Ngee Ann City in a unique pop-up exhibition titled “A Star Through Time”.
The exhibition took great effort in replicating some of the more providential aspects of Zenith’s Le Locle facility, including Charles Vermont’s heroic albeit rebellious defiance of instructions to trash plans and machines related to manufacture of the El Primero calibre allowing the legendary chronograph to continue its journey through time.
“Singapore has always been accommodating to Zenith’s forward-thinking approach to watchmaking. By bringing Le Monde Étoilé ahead of our new Singapore boutique’s opening, we are offering a unique occasion to discover the past, present and future of Zenith in such a captivating way” – Zenith CEO Julien Tornare
Zenith Marks 50 Years of El Primero with 50 Reasons and A Journey through Space-Time
Having partnered with the Neuchâtel Tourism Office in 2018 to create an unforgettable journey through time via Zenith’s 154 year history, including a glimpse into the future of watchmaking – the Star Through Time exhibit focused on the many milestones including a glowing list of chronometer awards and observatory competitions showcasing the fundamental aspects of a true manufacture and what just how difficult it was to conceive of the world’s first independently developed automatic chronograph.
With rare watches on display, including Felix Baumgartner’s El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th, a model which accompanied the daredevil as he jumped out of a space capsule from an altitude of approximately 71,580 feet towards the earth, visitors learnt about the past, present and future of the El Primero calibre through interactive displays using cutting-edge audio-visual presentation technologies create a multi-sensorial voyage through time.
With a Zenith El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th strapped to the outside of his spacesuit, Baumgartner reached 1,357.64 km/h (843.6 mph) -Mach 1.25 – becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without any form of engine power.
“OK, we’re getting serious now, Felix” – Baumgartner’s mentor, USAF Colonel Joseph Kittinger
A testament to both the Zenith manufacture and the robust El Primero Stratos edition, both man and timepiece survived the crossing of the Armstrong limit where atmospheric pressure is sufficiently low that water boils at the normal temperature of the human body and the uncontrolled spin started within Baumgartner’s first minute after departing the capsule which could have been fatal. The immense physical toll on both watch and man cannot be understated, choosing not to abort at least twice, Baumgartner made land fall in New Mexico, approximately 9 minutes after jumping from the capsule, where he fell to his knees in thanks before punching the air in victory.
A modern analogy can be drawn from Baumgartner’s redefining of the envelope and the homage paid to Zenith hero-watchmaker Charles Vermot by the Le Monde Étoilé experience which transports guests as they travel back in time to a 3D recreation of the secret attic, interacting with the 3D displays and props as Vermot once did.
“Singapore has always been accommodating to Zenith’s forward-thinking approach to watchmaking. By bringing Le Monde Étoilé ahead of our new Singapore boutique’s opening, we are offering a unique occasion to discover the past, present and future of Zenith in such a captivating way” said Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare at the press conference opening the exhibition on August 29. Alongside watch journalists and influencers, the press conference was graced with the presence of Yann Engel, Director of Neuchâtel Tourism.
A Star Through Time, saw more than 3000 visitors over the 5-day exhibition treated to a variety of events and activities, from watch clinics and watchmaking workshops, to panel discussions and happy hours with special guests. Visitors were also able to get up-close and personal with a wide selection of Zenith’s current collection at the open concept watch bar.
You can continue to follow Zenith’s star-lit future at 50 Reasons- the El Primero’s 50th Anniversary.