Swiss luxury watchmaker Zenith will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the brand’s most iconic and legendary calibre, the El Primero, with an immersive pop-up exhibition measuring a massive 400m2 titled A Star Through Time and located in the heart of Orchard Road, Singapore’s busiest shopping belt. Held at Ngee Ann City Civic Plaza and open to the public from the 28th of August to the 1st of September 2019, the exhibition will fascinate visitors with the story behind the El Primero, the world’s first automatic chronograph movement. The occasion also marks the first anniversary of Le Moinde Étoilé de Zenith, a uniquely interactive journey through the past, present and future of the Zenith manufacture.
Launched in 1969, the El Primero disrupted the watchmaking world, which saw many brands compete to roll out the next big horological innovation. Facing stiff competition, Zenith ultimately triumphed with the El Primero movement. The façade of the big marquee, which houses the exhibition, will be transformed to resemble that of the Zenith manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland. Enter the exhibition to discover a retrospective of the movement’s half-century story of innovation and precision, as vintage El Primero pieces and other exclusive timepieces come together to tell the tale. Interactive displays will also be employed, creating a dynamic juxtaposition of heritage and evolution. Open to the public throughout the duration of the pop-up exhibition, visitors will be able to dive deeper into Zenith’s history with the Le Monde Étoilé showcase, an experience that is based on the highly reputed Le Monde Étoilé de Zenith, which first debuted in April last year at the brand’s historical manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland. Together with the Neuchâtel Tourism office, to promote the region’s rich watchmaking history, Zenith engaged museography specialists to create a unique watchmaking experience for the general public and offer them an opportunity to understand the mechanical watch and its mysteries. Zenith was chosen as the tourism office’s horological partner, with the partnership allowing the scenographers to create a 360° experience for the visitors to witness the inner workings of a watchmaking maison.
Similarly, the same experience will be re-created for A Star Through Time, which brings the immersive experience concept to the Singaporean public as the first stop in a worldwide tour that will make its way to other exclusive destinations next year. “Le Monde Étoilé will give everyone an opportunity to enjoy a unique experience and to understand how our timepieces work, while plunging into the heart of our history,” said Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare.
Enthusiasts of watchmaking will also be enchanted by the legendary tale of how watchmaker Charles Vermot safeguarded the tools necessary for the manufacture of El Primero in the attic of the Zenith manufacture. Guests can create interactive photos with 3D displays and props as they take an experiential step back into history with a 3D setup of the secret attic. A video on the “50 reasons why El Primero” will be broadcasted, allowing guests to further explore the iconic movement. And to get a real feel of the Zenith watches, visitors will be able to get up-close and personal and try on a wide range of watches from the current Zenith collection at the open concept watch bar.
Interested in taking your horological knowledge up another level? Specially curated watchmaking clinics will be conducted for horophiles by Zenith watchmakers on the 31st of August and 1st of September 2019. Guests can register their interest for the sessions by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Confirmation will be on a “first come first served” basis. No reservation is required to visit the exhibition.
001. Front-of-store Chronometer displaying Zenith exact time (Circa 1912)
A REFERENCE FOR PRECISION – With this Shop Window Chronometer, placed in watchmakers’ shops’ windows, passer-by as well as shop owners from the 1910s could set their watch on Zenith time, precise to the second!
002. Manufacture Caliber 135 (as seen on right of picture below) – Winner of 235 Chronometry prizes (Circa 1950) and Manufacture Caliber 5011 (as seen on left of picture below) – Winner of the all- time record of Precision in its category, in 1967 (circa 1990)
THE CHAMPION OF PRECISION The 135 & 5011 Calibers two of the absolute champions of Zenith Precision:
Ø with its 235 Chronometry Prizes (amongst which 5 1st prizes 5 years in a row), the 135 holds the record of Chronometry Prizes’ amount for a single calibre Ø with its 1.54 points, the 5011 holds the all-time Precision record in its category
Good to know: Both calibers not only fitted Competition watches (aimed at prestigious Chronometry Competitions) but also Watches Clients could buy for themselves (displayed in Zenith Catalogues).
003. El Primero – The first High-frequency Automatic Chronograph oscillating at 36,000vph (circa 1969)
MANUFACTURING PRECISION – The high-frequency of the 1969 El Primero – today multiplied by 10 in the Defy El Primero 21 – feeds Zenith legendary Precision (with 36,000 vph, possible shocks have far less possibilities to impact the smooth running of the watch)
Façade of Zenith’s Exhibition – A Star Through Time @ Ngee Ann City, Civic Plaza