Invited to capture the expertise behind the manufacturing of luxury timepieces, BIGBOOK accompanied Jacques Wittman, from Brussels jewellery house Degreef, on a journey through Swiss alpine valleys to visit Zenith Watches in their home town of Le Locle.
Nestled amongst the raw nature of an alpine landscape, the Zenith Manufacture was born from a simple but genius idea: to unite numerous artisans working in scattered workshops or in their own homes, under one roof and name. Georges Favre-Jacot, Zenith’s founding father, believed that each step of the thousands of operations to assemble a single watch were not only interdependent but could profit from a shared spirit of entrepreneurship and collective evolution - a concept that remains at the core of the watch-making process to this day.
Remaining one of few companies to lay claim to the integrated process that defines a Manufacture, Zenith has been at the forefront of important revolutions in the creation of luxury timepieces. Each watch in the El Primero collection for example, launched in 1969 as the first automatic chronograph and still beating at the heart of watches around the world to this day, takes 9 months of work, over 2500 operations by a a dedicated team of 300 expert hands. Accompanied by anecdotes from both the DEGREEF team and Zenith artisans, BIGBOOK were guided through every step of the intricate process, from technical plans to the last polishing and through prototype-making, movement ébauches, stamping, tool-making, research on materials, decoration, assembling and casing-up.
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