This year is a very interesting year in watches. Because this year is not only the 50th anniversary of the Omega landing on the moon, but also the 50th anniversary of the birth of the automatic chronograph (1969-present). Before the advent of automatic chronographs in 1969, all chronographs were manual. There were no automatic chronographs such as the Daytona, the dark side of the moon, the flying meter, and the navitimer aviation chronograph.
Zenith El Primero Chronograph
Coincidentally, in 1969, there were three automatic chronograph movements. Whenever it comes to who is the number one issue, there is a lot of controversy. So today we will see who is the world’s first automatic chronograph (automatic chronograph movement).
1. Zenith El Primero (launched in January 1969)
According to recent data, Zenith first announced the Zenith El Primero chronograph movement in January 1969. El Primero is one of the most famous self-winding chronograph movements in the world and is considered to be the world’s first self-winding chronograph movement.
The Zenith El Primero automatic chronograph movement. The movement in the picture below removes the automatic top.
El Primero means ‘first’ in Spanish. Since its birth, in addition to Zenith, this movement has been used by Rolex, Hublot, Panerai, Daniel Roth (independent watch brand, now part of Bulgari), Ebel, and so on. Although it is the first self-winding chronograph movement, the technical starting point of El Primero is very high, and it can be said that it is in one step. The Zenith El Primero movement has several very powerful things.
The first Zenith chronograph to use an El Primero movement in 1969.
1. Although it is the first self-winding chronograph movement, El Primero movement directly integrates the automatic winding mechanism into the chronograph movement, which is an integrated self-winding chronograph movement. The idea is very advanced, and now the dedicated automatic chronograph movements of each brand continue the integrated design of El Primero.
2. Although it is the first self-winding chronograph movement, the El Primero movement directly achieves 36,000 times / h high frequency (5 Hz). At present, the frequency of the watch movement is mainly 21600 (3 Hz) and 28800 (4 Hz). To this day El Primero is still a very rare high-frequency movement.
3. Although it is the first self-winding chronograph movement, the El Primero movement uses a horizontal clutch and columnar wheel technology configuration. Today, it is still a high-end configuration that combines technical characteristics and ornamentality.
Report of watchmaker Charles Vermot saving El Primero movement.
The El Primero movement introduced 50 years ago still represents the first-class level of automatic chronograph movements today, proving the strong technical level of Zenith. And the most important point is that Zenith El Primero has been used to this day. Due to the trend of quartz watches, Zenith decided to discontinue production of El Primero in 1975 and switched to producing quartz watches. Because a watchmaker named Charles Vermot secretly hid all the drawings and equipment for the production of El Primero, the El Primero movement was spared, and it was able to resume production in 1985, and has been producing to this day (note, Zenith The latest Defy El Primero 21 is a newly developed 1/100 second chronograph movement. This new movement has no technical connection with the El Primero movement that has continued in the history, but only continues to use the El Primero name).
The Zenith El Primero chronograph, dial and movement are all hollowed out, which is cool.
It is very interesting that in the 1980s, Rolex decided to launch the automatic chronograph Daytona (previously Daytona was manual), but at the time Rolex also did not produce the chronograph movement itself, and could only be purchased out Only launched its own chronograph movement 4130), and Zenith El Primero was the best choice at the time. Thus Rolex launched the Daytona 16520 in 1988 using the El Primero movement (Rolex No. 4030 movement).
Rolex Daytona 16520 with Zenith El Primero movement.
2. Tag Heuer, Breitling Alliance Caliber 11 (launched in March 1969)
According to recent data, an alliance formed by TAG Heuer, Breitling and other brands launched the Caliber 11 automatic chronograph movement in March 1969 (Tag Heuer calls Caliber 11 movement, Breitling calls Chronomatic movement). Different from Zenith, including Tag Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton and Dubois-Dépraz, they have jointly developed an automatic winding chronograph using Caliber 11 movement. The division of labor among the brands is as follows:
Caliber 11 automatic chronograph movement co-developed by TAG Heuer, Breitling, Hamilton, Dubois-Dépraz.
TAG Heuer: TAG Heuer leads the project and is responsible for the case and dial.
Breitling: Breitling participates in investment and also participates in the development of watch cases and dials (Breitling is mainly funded).
Dubois-Dépraz: responsible for the development of timing modules.
Hamilton: Responsible for the research and development of the basic movement using the pearl tourbillon (micro-automatic tourbillon).
The structure of Caliber 11, the upper picture is the structure of the timing module, the lower picture is the structure of the Pearl Tuo automatic movement, and finally the two are combined into one.
The Caliber 11 movement developed by Tag Heuer and Breitling Alliance has a completely different technical route, movement structure and El Primero, which represents the idea of another chronograph movement, a modular chronograph movement. Caliber 11 is equipped with a timing module on top of an automatic winding movement. It is a combination of a separate automatic winding movement and a timing module. The modular design of Caliber 11 seems simpler than that of Zenith El Primero, but the design idea of Caliber 11 is also a major invention, which has an important influence today. Like the current ETA2894 chronograph movement and Audemars Piguet 3126 chronograph movement, these are all modular chronograph movements. In 2894, a timing module was added to 2892, and Audemars Piguet 3126 added a timing module to 3120 movement. The method of installing a timing module can make an ordinary automatic winding movement easily turn into an automatic timing movement, so it is also widely used today.
Caliber 11 automatic chronograph movement used by TAG Heuer
Caliber 11 is used in many watches because it is jointly developed. TAG Heuer Carrera, Monaco, Autavia; Breitling Navitimer, Chronomat; Hamilton Chrono-matic have used this movement. Unfortunately, Caliber 11 was used in the 70s and 80s of the last century, and then discontinued. It has not continued to this day. Although Tag Heuer still has Caliber 11 movement (retrofitting ETA movement), it has nothing to do with Caliber 11 in history.
The TAG Heuer Monaco chronograph, although the TAG Heuer still has the Caliber 11 movement (retrofitted ETA movement), but has nothing to do with the Caliber 11 in history.
3. Seiko 6139 (launched in May 1969)
According to recent information, Seiko introduced the 6139 self-winding chronograph movement in May 1969. But compared to Zenith El Primero, Tag Heuer, Breitling Alliance Caliber 11, the visibility of Seiko 6139 is much lower. There are two reasons for this. First of all, Seiko is a Japanese brand. In the world of Swiss watch-based watches, Seiko’s achievements have been suppressed. Secondly, the Seiko 6139 movement is mainly used in low-priced watches. In terms of luxury, it is not as good as Zenith, Tag Heuer, Breitling.
Seiko chronograph with Seiko 6139 self-winding movement.
But the Seiko 6139 self-winding movement is also an epoch-making self-winding chronograph movement. Calibre 6139 is the world’s first chronograph movement using a vertical clutch. The vertical clutch means that the second wheel of the timing part and the second wheel of the travel time are connected / detached up and down through the friction plate. The advantage is that there is no direct contact of the gear teeth. The friction plate is used to control the start / stop of the timing function. The chronograph hands shake. Vertical clutch is one of the mainstream configurations of modern chronograph movements, such as Rolex 4130, Breitling B01, Blancpain FP1185, Omega 9300/9900, Jaeger-LeCoultre 751, IWC 89000 series Is the vertical clutch used (vertical clutch pays attention to performance, horizontal clutch pays attention to viewing, swing gear economy is better, the three timing directions of the chronograph movement are different, different movement choices are different). Although the Seiko 6139 movement was eventually discontinued, it can be seen that this movement is of great significance.
Seiko chronograph using the Seiko 6139 movement and Zenith El Primero chronograph.
The debate over who is the world’s first self-winding chronograph movement has been going on for a long time. From the current information, in time, Zenith El Primero movement won the first. But there is no doubt that Zenith El Primero movement, Tag Heuer Breitling Alliance Caliber 11 movement, Seiko 6139 movement, technically, have a huge impact on future generations, their respective inventions are still being used today. widely used.