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hen Georges Favre-Jacot started his watchmaking company in 1865, he was
already convinced that emotion arises from a combination of daring and
authenticity. Later, to suggest that his brand offered the ultimate in expertise and
high standards, he renamed the company after the highest point in the sky: Zenith.
The Zenith brand earned swift recognition for the precision of its chronometers, for which
it has won 2,333 chronometry prizes in a century and a half of existence: an absolute record
in terms of pocket watches, onboard timers and wristwatches. Having earned fame thanks
to its legendary El Primero calibre – an integrated automatic column-wheel chronograph
movement launched in 1969 and endowed with a high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per
hour that ensures measurements accurate to the nearest 1/10th of a second – Zenith has since
developed over 600 movement variations.
With the El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th timepiece, Zenith once againmade history.
As a noted partner of the greatest human adventures, Zenith equipped Felix Baumgartner
with a watch worthy of his feat: the world’s most precise series-made chronograph equipped
with a Striking 10th function and its three coloured counters enabling tenth of a second
reading. Complete with its flyback function, this top-flight instrument proves particularly
useful for pilots, since it enables them to stop, reset and restart the chronograph in one
smooth move.
Ever since its birth in 1865, the brand has remained true to its mantra of precision and
reliability. These are imperious necessities for such a perilous mission as Felix Baumgartner’s
jump. While the supersonic achievement is recent, performance has been a constant feature
of the almost century and a half-long history of the brand with the guiding star and which
notably produced timing and navigation instruments for civil and military aviation right from
the dawn of the 20th century.
Consistently in sync with the latest challenges, Zenith timepieces have always boasted tried
and tested robustness. An El Primero model thus crossed the Atlantic in 1970, fixed to the
landing gear of a Boeing 707 during the AF015 flight from Paris to New York. Despite being
subjected to terrible variations in temperature and pressure, as well as constant jolting, the
watch maintained its cadence of 36,000 vibrations per hour as well as remaining precise to
the nearest second. It in fact required no correction upon arrival apart from the inevitable
time-zone adjustment.
The Stratos worn by modern-day hero Felix Baumgartner has experienced a similar destiny,
accompanying him in his jump secured to his right arm over his spacesuit and in direct
contact with the exterior. Despite the massive accelerations, temperature differences and
variations in atmospheric pressure encountered during the 9 minutes and 18 seconds of the
jump, the El Primero chronograph was running as smoothly as ever upon its return to terra
Far more than just a confrontation with the most extreme conditions. For Zenith, the
adventure on Felix Baumgartner’s wrist means far more than just confronting its mechanism
with the most extreme conditions, because the Red Bull mission and theManufacture follow
the same star: the one guiding the daring approach of all those with an enterprising spirit,
consistently pushing the boundaries of technical precision and opening up a place of freedom
where anything becomes possible.