Zenith Ultimate Achievement | Baselworld 
Julien Tornare, Zenith CEO

mai 06, 2019

“An ultimate achievement”

Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, shares details about the Defy Inventor and the brand’s efforts to modernise its image based on history

This year, Zenith celebrates the 50th anniversary of the El Primero. How will you celebrate?   

Julien Tornare:
We have a number of exciting products and events lined up, starting with a world tour called the “Grenier Club” that involves 12 exclusive El Primero 50th anniversary dinners in incredible places for just 50 guests [at each] symbolising the 50th anniversary and hosted by Zenith over the next year in celebration of the El Primero’s half-century of avant-garde and precision. Locations range from art galleries to amazing private properties – all chosen for their exclusivity and unexpectedness. While the El Primero movement has constantly evolved since it was invented, until today, Zenith has never yet offered an identical reissue. … The dinners will also be the scene of another symbolic tribute in celebration of the El Primero golden jubilee, in the form of an exceptional exploration of the world of Zenith created by a class of undergraduate photography students at the University of Art and Design Lausanne (ECAL). Last but not least, guests will also be treated to an exhibition of a set of historical El Primero models presented by decade: from the 1969 birth of the first high-frequency automatic chronograph to offer 1/10th second precision, to the 2017 introduction of the El Primero 21 delivering 1/100th of a second accuracy. In tribute to the original El Primero, Zenith is now presenting a 50-piece limited edition anniversary set containing three chronographs complete with the El Primero’s emblematic tricolour counters.

Zenith Defy Close-up

What is next for Defy?

Enter the Defy Inventor, the wholly urban industrial interpretation of the much-acclaimed 10-piece limited edition Defy Lab regulated by a revolutionary oscillator developed by the Manufacture and launched in 2017. The Defy Inventor will be produced as several hundred units and equipped with its own patented regulating organ. The fact that Zenith is capable of developing and producing an entire mechanical movement complete with regulating organ represents the ultimate achievement for a manufacture – an achievement that has replaced the sprung balance used in mechanical watchmaking for three and a half centuries. This major innovation for the industry offers a number of benefits including increased reliability, as this unique ultra-thin element (0.5 mm) replaces some 30 components in a standard regulating organ, eliminating contact, friction, wear and deformation; and secondly, stability, as it is made of mono-crystalline silicon and therefore insensitive to temperature variations and magnetic fields. In addition, its escape wheel is made of flexible blades, a first in the watch industry. These exceptional qualities are triple certified: for magnetic insensitivity (ISO-764), thermal insensitivity (ISO-3159) and chronometric precision (TIMELAB – Foundation of the Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Micro-engineering). Like its predecessor, the DEFY Inventor combines superlative technical performance with modern aesthetics composed of cutting-edge materials. This innovative engine is matched by an architectural exterior featuring superlight state-of-the-art Aeronith and a sophisticated open worked construction.

What has been your biggest challenge been since taking over the brand?

Perhaps the need to modernise our image as a truly 21st century brand with a great tradition from which we can benefit but should not rely on. We have had to be ruthless in terms of streamlining our offer in line with our strategy to go for quality rather than quantity, while focusing on product design, rationalising our distribution and ensuring that we are in touch with our customers. With that in mind, we have had to make a quantum leap in terms of getting up to speed with online marketing and sales, while making a concerted effort to attract millennials who represent a massive market. Appealing to this generation does not, however, mean that we have any intention of getting involved in connected watches, but rather raising awareness of the kudos of owning a beautiful mechanical watch. And that in turn means a major drive to improve our external communication on the one hand, and our internal communication on the other, with a view to attracting and retaining talent.

ZENITH Branch of LVMH Swiss Manufactures SA

Since 1865, Zenith excelled in daring and innovation. Soon after its founding in Le Locle by visionary GFJ, Zenith gained recognition for its precision, source of 2.333 chronometry prizes. Famous for its legendary 1969 El Primero caliber accurate to the nearest 1/10th of a second, the Manufacture has since developed over 600 movement variations. Driven by tradition and dynamic, avant-garde thinking, Zenith today offers new vistas in time measurement, including 1/100th of a second timing.

Hall & Stand

  • 1.0 | D05
ZENITH Branch of LVMH Swiss Manufactures SA
Rue des Billodes 34
2400 Le Locle

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