Zenith Rarest one-off Zenith El Primero achieves highest auction price ever
50th Anniversary celebrations for Zenith’s legendary El Primero chronograph end on high note at Geneva Watch Auction X, on 10 November 2019, raising a record USD 250’650 benefiting Zoé4life.
The highlight of this year’s must-attend auction for watch aficionados and collectors from around the world was when the gavel fell for the highest bid on the one-off El Primero chronograph. The first and only Zenith A386 reference to be made of platinum, this unique El Primero was designed by Phillips in Association with Bacs & Russo to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of Zenith’s history-making timepiece. This truly unique exemplar, designed exclusively to commemorate this historic milestone, went for a stunning USD 250’650 (CHF 250’000). The exceptional moment was all the more noteworthy as the proceeds went to benefit Zoe4Life, a Swiss non-profit that is part of the Childhood Cancer International network. The event crowns the Zenith El Primero 50th Anniversary celebrations throughout 2019, which included a World Tour across 5 continents – culminating in a gala show on the eve of the auction – to celebrate the first automatic integrated chronograph in watchmaking history introduced by Zenith in 1969.
Zenith El Primero Ref. A386, platinum © Zenith
The gala event held on the eve of the auction at Geneva’s La Réserve resort on 8 November presented the perfect occasion for setting the stage. The select circle of around 300 guests, great collectors, friends and journalists were invited on a fascinating tour of the year 1969 moderated by Nick Foulkes, author and horological connoisseur. Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, peppered his account of the extraordinary journey behind the making of the El Primero legend with memorable anecdotes.
An especially touching moment: Charles Vermot, the man without whose engineering genius and determination there would be no El Primero, was represented by his son Michel who graciously accepted the applause.
It was the perfect lead-in for the pièce de resistance: the unveiling of the one-off 50th Anniversary El Primero in platinum by Julien Tornare and Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant of Phillips in association with Bacs & Russo, auctioned at The Geneva Watch Auction X.
Alex Ghotbi, Aurel Bacs, Julien Tornare, Romain Marietta
Finally Aurel Bacs took center stage to present two Zenith El Primero limited editions designed by Phillips, one in yellow gold limited to 20 pieces, the other in stainless steel kept at 49 pieces. Together, the production runs of these two exclusive watches created for the renowned auction house rarities in creations add up to 69 pieces, in reference to 1969, the year the legend was born.