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Sure, why not? So what if they sing "Funkytown"?

Advice/Information on 1978 Zenith El P. Please. Posted By: Graham Boulter Date: 7/15/04 20:19 GMT

Hi Guy's,

I was wondering if I could possibly pick your collective brain's!

Sure! Why not... You might have to look around a little bit to find them!

I am thinking about a slight departure from the usual Heuer theme. I have always liked the design of the 1978 Zenith (Movado too), El Primero Chrono. -I am sure you know the one, BIG and Square.

Hmmm... One of these?

All I know is that they are usually found with a blue dial, and that around 50 had Black dial's. -That is it!! (Not really a lot to go on!)

I've never heard of a Black Dial, The one pictured above is, well, mine. Had it for about five years. And I don't think they made too many of the Blue Dial models either.

May I ask you where you heard of the Black Dial model?

So, before I go hunting for one, I would love some more information if anyone can help?

Does anyone know how good the movement is?

Zenith El-Primero? Are you kidding? Probably one of the most sophisticated, elegant and lusted after movements ever made. They probably aren't as rugged as a Lemania 5100 or c.2310 (Omega c.321) or c.1873 (Omega c.861), but what the heck is?

What they are like to live with?

Well, this one definately has that late 1970's disco-era wretched excess vibe going for it. This is a circa 1978 model... People start singing "Funkytown" when they see it, but it's a very cool watch in the wearing.


The only thing with the El-Primero's is that since they are an Uber-High beat movement (36,000) they require a special oil for lubrication. However there is an extensive Zenith service center network so it's not really a big deal.

Parts avalibility?

Bracelet links and bracelet parts are tough, but I suspect movement parts are not a big problem. I haven't sought out dials, hands or date wheels though.

History of the model?

The El-Primero movement was among the first automatic chronographs brought to the market. There was a three way race and depending on where one puts the finish line, what your predjudices are, and who you talk to you can come up with three different winners of the race. The Heuer-Breitling-Hamilton-Buren consortium produced the c.11 Chrono-Matic.

Seiko produced their own In-House 2-register movement (used famously in their Bullhead models).

And Zenith produced the El-Primero. Which was the only Full-Rotor (the Chrono-Matic utilized a micro-rotor) 3-register model. Perhaps tellingly, the Zenith is the only one still in production to this day (although production ceased for a couple of years and the tooling was ordered destroyed, but employee's hid it from their corporate masters.

The Values?

Believe it or not I paid $850 for mine nearly 5 years ago. Today I would expect to pay a minimum of $1,500 and probably significantly more.

Up until recently Zenith was not available in the USA, and as a result the only way to get one was to import it oneself. As a result their prices were low (comparably). About two and a half years ago Zenith entered the US market again and nearly doubled their MSRP on their current models. Rolex had stopped using them for the Daytona's and Zenith figured if Rolex can get $6300~6500 for a new Stainless Steel Daytona powered by a El-Primero, they could ask at least $5,000 (when they had been asking about $2,500 for similar models). So they increased their prices and as a result vintage prices jumped as well.


Most of the old Zenith's were not produced in large numbers, a production run of 5,000 was probably fairly commonplace, as it's possible that many models only justified a production run of less than 1,000.

The Blue Dial Square El-Primero is certainly not a commonly seen watch.

-Really anything and everything about the model!

Hopefully this is enough to get you started. There are a couple of Zenith Forum's where they know more (and probably have better information than I do), one is over at TimeZone and the other is at Watch-U-Seek, tell 'em I/we sent ya!

I have had a Speedie 125 in the past, is the Zenith's size comparable?

Probably as wide or maybe a little wider. Thinner and sits lower on your wrist. And definately lighter.

I would be very grateful for any information/ owners view's.

You have them.

Thank you all, yet again!

Best Wishes,


Not a problem, you're welcome!

Good Hunting!

-- Chuck

Chuck Maddox

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Non-Pasadena Pasadena Stainless 7750

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