Attempting to legitimately link a landmark wristwatch with a landmark car can often result in a tenuous connection at best – but it is difficult to think of two that go together quite so naturally as the Zenith El Primero and the original Range Rover. Their most obvious commonality lies in the year in which the now-celebrated El Primero movement was first launched: 1969.
It was in that year on 3 March that the combined forces of Hamilton Buren, Dubois-Depraz, Breitling and Heuer-Leonidas unveiled the fruits of their “Project 99”, otherwise known as the Calibre 11, the world’s first self-winding chronograph movement.
In reality, however, Zenith had already got there first, as remembered by none other than Jack Heuer. In his autobiography, The Times of My Life, he wrote: “On 10 January 1969, I opened my local newspaper and nearly choked on my coffee. There was a small news item reporting an announcement by the Swiss watch making company Zenith to the effect that they had developed the world’s first self-winding chronograph called El Primero. And, furthermore, that they had a working prototype.”