Zenith El Primero Limited Edition Ref.30.0220 400 18ct c1993
100% Genuine & All Original
All Functions Working Perfectly
Fully Inspected, Serviced and Guaranteed
Oversize 40mm, 18ct Yellow Gold Zenith Swiss Made Case
Limited Edition Model 30.0220 400, Number 2 of Only 400 Ever Made
Immaculate Original Unrestored and Untouched White Dial and ‘Stick’ Hands
Very High Grade Cal 400, 31 Jewel Chronometer Grade Movement, in Sparkling Condition
Original Black Zenith Alligator Strap with Original Zenith 18ct Gold Buckle
A Truly Important Watch in Absolutely Wonderful Condition
High Quality Hardwood Presentation Box Included, as Shown
VGWL 12 Months’ Written Warranty Included*
VGWL Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee
Free Worldwide FedEx Delivery
Free UK Special Delivery
Zenith is one of the oldest watch companies, est. 1865 and one of only a handful which still produces all its own mechanical movements today. The company has an almost unparalleled record of technical achievements. Notably, in 1929, Zenith won world renown at Kew Observatory (England), when a Zenith wristwatch won first prize for accuracy of better than 0.6 seconds per day.
During the late 1940s and throughout the 1950s, Zenith held the lead in producing many of the most commercially successful and most advanced chronograph wristwatches. The technical expertise and craftsmanship which went into these was immense. Just a brief look inside the case-back of any chronograph is enough to demonstrate how complicated these watches are – making these very expensive watches to design and produce.
Zenith has also been recognised with more than 1500 awards and has over 50 individual movement designs to its name, making it the Swiss brand with the most awards for precision.
Put simply, in 1969 Zenith produced the world’s first automatic chronograph, the El Primero. This movement was a tour de force and so advanced that 20 years later in 1988, when Rolex required a more advanced movement to install in its Daytona Chronograph, it chose to fit the Zenith El Primero movement. It then continued to do this right up and until the year 2000 when Rolex finally began to make its own chronograph movements for the Daytona for the first time.
Many see this as one of the best chronograph movements ever produced, as it can accurately measure time to 1/10th of a second and even today very few chronographs are capable of achieving this.
This incredible example of the Zenith El Primero is in absolutely immaculate condition. The completely original, unrestored and untouched white dial matches perfectly with the 18ct yellow gold case. This limited edition model is number 2 of 400 ever made.
The original, unrestored and untouched white dial is absolutely stunning. This triple register dial carries original gilt ‘stick’ hands and ‘baton’ hour indices, this dial also carries a date window in the unique position between 4 and 5. It is beautifully symmetrical, well balanced and proportioned. It may initially look quite complicated, but this is because it conveys a lot of information. In actual fact, it successfully conveys all this information very simply, once you become familiar with the layout.
The dial we have here is of course, the more sought after triple register. These registers measure constant seconds at the 9 dial position, minute recording at the 3 position and hour recording at the 6 position. The constant seconds dial runs constantly and independently of the other functions while the large centre hand and the other two registers operate while the chronograph is operating.
The dial carries an outer tachymeter scale, the tachymeter scale measures speed based on time travelled over a fixed distance, i.e. as a rangefinder – typically in a military application; especially naval gunnery and anti-aircraft artillery – or to measure how far away a storm is, by using the difference in time between the arrival of a flash of light and its associated sound.
As mentioned above, only 400 of this model were produced and this is number 2 of 400, as indicated by the number 2 to the left of the lower subsidiary dial.
As the dial is original and unrestored, this has been left untouched by our restoration team due to its superb condition. Usually, we restore the dials of the watches we sell, however we decided in this case to leave it alone. It also helps to contrast with almost all of the other watch dials you see on our website, which have been restored. The hands, likewise, have also been left in their original condition.
As mentioned above, the El Primero movement was a ground breaking achievement for Zenith. First launched in early 1969, it was not only the world’s first self winding chronograph but it also accurately measured time to 1/10th of a second, and included a quickset date function.
It may perhaps be helpful to fully appreciate the watch movement, if we outline a few terms. Firstly, simple hand-wound watches are known as a ‘time only’ watches, because they simply tell the time and have no ‘complications’. A time only watch with a date function is said to have one ‘complication’. If this movement indicates the day, date and month, then it is said to have three complications. Moonphase and chronograph functions are obviously a further two complications, as are a self-winding function and a quickset date function. So this watch, as you will see, has five complications making it highly impressive. Particularly as it is based on such a accomplished chronograph movement.
As mentioned elsewhere on our website, it is very important when considering a triple calendar chronograph to find one in tip-top condition which has been well cared for and properly serviced. This is just such an example with each of its functions working perfectly.
The chronograph function works in the usual way and is started and stopped using the top right hand button. It is then reset using the bottom right hand button.
Please note – it is important not to leave the chronograph timer function running in normal use as this will cause unnecessary wear on the chronograph parts of the movement.
The El Primero remains the only mechanical movement ever able to measure time intervals to within a tenth of a second. In fact this 31 Jewel movement was so advanced and such a technical tour de force, that when in 1988 Rolex decided to replace its ageing hand-wound Valjoux Cal.72 movement in its Rolex Daytona chronograph with an automatic movement, it chose to buy and fit the Zenith El Primero movement. Rolex then continued to use this movement until the year 2000 when it finally began to produce its own chronograph movements.
As expected, the movement of this watch is in first class condition and has been fully overhauled and serviced by our vintage chronograph specialist master watchmaker. This involves complete disassembly of the movement to each of its component parts. It was then cleaned and closely examined under high magnification, then re-assembled using only the correct Zenith replacement parts where necessary, and specified oils and adjustments as required, before final testing, and calibration.
Following careful timing and calibration, this watch is currently running within +5 seconds per day averaged over 6 positions. This is truly outstanding for any watch of this age and this movement also has a 50-hour power reserve when fully wound. We are therefore more than pleased to offer 12 months’ warranty on this watch movement*.
The movement is correctly signed ‘Zenith Swiss Made’, ‘31 Jewels’ and ‘ Chronometer’ with the Calibre No 400 and the movement serial number 51137943.
*Please note – our 12 months’ warranty is only applicable if the full list price is paid.
The Watch Case
The substantial 18ct yellow gold watch case measures 40mm in diameter, excluding the original Zenith signed winding crown. The case is in almost perfect condition with no evidence of anything other than careful use and very gentle hand-polishing. It is completely scratch free and the lugs are sharp, with almost new edges. The chronograph pushers are also in immaculate condition, indicating the watch has seen very little use.
The case-back is of full thickness and shows no signs of wear visible to the naked eye. It is correctly signed ‘Zenith’ and ‘Swiss’ with the model number 30.0220 400 and an 18K hallmark. The outside of the case-back also carries a map of Switzerland and the inscription ‘700 ans Confédération Helvétique’ (700 years of the Swiss Confederation).
As ever our standard advice applies: Vintage watches should be kept clean and dry at all times.
The Strap & Buckle
This watch has a genuine black alligator Zenith strap fitted along with an 18ct yellow gold Zenith buckle. However, if a different colour or style of strap is preferred, please let us know and we will do our best to oblige free of charge. We carry tan, conker, dark brown and black in stock in plain padded leather, crocodile skin or lizard skin. We can also obtain most types and colours from our partners at ‘Watch Obsession’ within 48hrs. Please take a look at their huge range of straps if you wish here.
Box and Papers
Although there are no original papers with this watch, the reference numbers, markings, signatures and hallmarks are all correct, dating the watch to c1993.
Detailed particulars will be included with our purchase receipt for your interest and security. A separate insurance valuation for the replacement value of this watch will be provided at the time of sale along with our unique ‘Lifetime Authenticity Guarantee’ which states: “If this watch proves to be anything less than 100% genuine, authentic and original, a full refund will be given at any time”.
This watch comes complete with a high quality hardwood presentation box.
If you would like to pay by bank transfer we will be pleased to assist you with this and pass on a 3% saving to you. Paying by bank transfer for a 3% saving will not affect your 12 months warranty. Similarly, if you wish to pay by International SWIFT or Bank Wire Transfer we will provide you with our BIC / Swift number and our IBAN number.
Please check the import duties and any taxes your government may apply, these are different for each country and unfortunately out of our control.
We understand there may be some ‘loopholes’ that may help you avoid these charges, however attempting to use these could impact our ongoing ability to serve our growing international customer base.
For those that happen to visit the UK on occasion we are of course more than happy to store your watch until we can meet you in our offices in Kensington, London, and your watch directly to you there.
As with all our watches, this watch will be sold under our 14 days no quibble sale or return policy.
This is truly one of the most magnificent and important watches from one of the absolute leaders in its class. We think the value of this watch is excellent given the market for important rare vintage gold watches in recent years.
A word on our prices – We always try our hardest to acquire the very highest quality watches we can find, before restoring them to the highest possible standards. We then offer these at the fairest prices we can, taking into account our pre and post-sales care and service. This approach means we will never be the cheapest, but nor will we be the most expensive. Indeed there are some well-known stores in West London which are highly successful charging between two to three times the price you see here. We, therefore, consider our prices to be fair, given the quality of watches we have to offer.
Please note, we also welcome part exchanges. If you have a watch or a small collection for sale, please contact us as we will be happy to discuss this.
We will also be happy to Service your watch, Repair your watch or Restore your watch, all at ‘sensible’ prices. Please see here.
If you have any questions please call us on 020 7727 7095 or if calling from overseas on +44 207 727 7095.
Please take a look at our other fine vintage gold watches.