Zenith was “the first manufacture”, one of the greatest watch companies in Switzerland, and the economic force behind Le Locle. Then it was purchased by an American electronics company and ordered to destroy its mechanical watchmaking assets. This is the story of the mighty Zenith, brought low, and returning thanks to a machine tools baron, a humble watchmaker, and two other famous brands.
Zenith is a historic Swiss brand which dates to 1911. It was taken over by the American electronics company of the same name in 1971 before returning to Swiss ownership in 1978. In 1999 it became part of LVMH, the luxury group.
Sometimes when browsing watches one stumbles upon something that seems seriously out of place. Such was the case when I spotted a Scuderia Ferrari-branded Zenith Chronograph in the listings for tomorrow’s Chrono24/Auctionata auction: Sure, there are Ferrari-branded watches today, but this one dates to “around 1950” and has a yellow logo!