Automatic watches were hot in the 1950s, and chronographs were cool in the 1960s. But bringing these technologies together was not at all straightforward! Three different automatic chronograph movements were launched in 1969, and the story of their creation reflects the state of the industry at that time as well as the inevitability of technological progress.
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.
Here is a lovely early 1970’s Breitling “Co-Pilote” 7651 watch with the famous Chronomatic movement. It was seriously huge at the time, but today 48 mm is simply “large”. This makes it eminently wearable, not just a safe-queen. The black PVD bezel is cool, but the replacement bracelet is unfortunate.