Review: Zenith El Primero Striking 10th

The El Primero movement is legendary – driving the first generation Rolex Daytonas for many years. A striking 10th complication – where that seconds hand FLIES around the dial once every 10 seconds is awesome (and I am sure my watchmaker will agree as no telling what it’s longevity might be.

This article is based upon a forum post I wrote on Watchuseek.com in 2015.

While many of you Zenith experts will know that the Striking 10th was a limited edition of 1969 units, the blue-face edition was a subset limited to 30 units, to be sold at Tourneau stores. Since there are 35 stores (including outlets). this means that generally every full-fledged store got one. I think it came out in 2010 or 2011.

I was at the Tourneau Outlet in San Marcos (halfway between Austin and San Antonio) in March of 2015. The store was, before it closed in 2016, the biggest Tourneau outlet store and sometimes you can find some really nice timepieces. You won’t find Rolex, Omega or Panerai, but plenty of Beritling, Oris, some IWCs (but only the uglier ones), Bremont, Fortis, Longines and some of the mid-priced luxury brands. (They did have a few nice Glachutte Originals a few months ago – but those went fast.)

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Zenith El Primero Striking 10th 03.2042.4052 © 2017 Adam Brown

And sometimes you get lucky. Very lucky. Behind the counter in the glass shelves I saw the blue face Zenith El Primero and didn’t realize it was a striking 10th. When I saw the striking 10th move for the first time I was interested. When I saw it was more than 60% off MSRP (still with 5-year manufacturer’s warranty) I got crazy excited. Then I saw the Tourneau logo on the dial. REALLY? They put their logo on it? Buzzkill. But wait, can I deal with this?

So, I took a breath. As much as I would have preferred to not have the Tourneau logo on the dial, I loved the blue face.

And I knew this was the only way to get the striking 10th with a blue face at any price (much less +50% off). And I remembered that there was precedence for this – that is a jeweler’s logo on a watch dial. Back in the late 50s to early 70s, this was something a lot of jewelers did. OK, feeling a little better. But this is not an inexpensive watch. I needed to do more research. So I decided to drive home and look some things up in my watch reference books. And I started feeling better. Yep – lots of examples of jewelers’ names on watch dials in Rolex: An Unauthorized History. And in an Omega book too.

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From a great Speedmaster reference book in my library: Moonwatch Only: The Ultimate Omega Speedmaster Guide by Gregoire Rossier & Anthony Marquie:

[PAGE 108] …In the 1960s is was quite usual for retailers to add their names to the dials of watches they sold. It is important to bear in mind that the extra inscriptions, placed in just above the word Professional in the [Omega] Speedmaster, were not put there by the watch manufacturer but by the retailer in its own workshops…

There were three jewelers who are have reference pics in the book of their dial inscriptions: 1) Meister (Zurich, Switzerland) – where all watches they sold (not just Omegas) has their name applied; 2) Tiffany & Co and 3) A.C.P.

So, Adam’s rationalization begins:

  • This being an homage to the 1969 El Primero, having a jeweler logo would not be completely inappropriate (late 60s was the heyday for jeweler dial logos).
  • The manufacturer did this (not Tourneau) and the LE back engraving is nice (wish they would have ended there, but alas).
  • The blue dial rocks, and no Striking 10th were made in blue outside of this LE.
  • This is limited to 30 pieces of a 1969 piece limit and indicated on the back engraving.
  • I dislike tang buckles, and this LE has a quick deployment clasp.
  • Damn it’s pretty. Very pretty. Did I say it’s blue?
  • Damn it’s a good deal.
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Zenith El Primero Striking 10th 03.2042.4052 © 2017 Adam Brown


So, I went back the next day and got it.
 And I am a happy camper. The watch is crazy accurate  (only losing about 1 second) and I love the watch, the dial and the quick deploy clasp which is not symmetrical (making it much more comfortable and as comfortable as Breitling and Omega’s clasp.

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Zenith El Primero Striking 10th 03.2042.4052 © 2017 Adam Brown
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Zenith El Primero Striking 10th 03.2042.4052 © 2017 Adam Brown

And the strap is croc with a rubber liner. Comfortable and doesn’t wick sweat. It actually like a lot and I bet it will have good longevity – probably a lot longer than the movement if I leave the chrono running all the time (but it’s just so mesmerizing)…

And I’m getting it at an AD (granted whose name is printed on the freakin’ dial) so full warranty and warranty card, presentation box, outer box and leather hangtags – everything. And oh yeah, I got them to throw in a Wolf Winder – a Cub Single winder 900/1800 Bi TBD. Not crazy complex or programmable, but a super nice incentive.

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Zenith El Primero Striking 10th 03.2042.4052 © 2017 Adam Brown

WHAT I LIKE:

  • Striking 10th complication
  • Beautiful blue dial with El Primero layout
  • Extremely comfortable butterfly clasp (which I usually don’t like)

NOT SO MUCH:

  • That Tourneau logo
  • Did I mention the ugly Tourneau logo?
  • The bill when this goes to the watchmaker for service

WATCH SPECIFICATIONS:

MODEL NAME: El Primero Striking 10th (Tourneau Blue)

REFERENCE NUMBER: 03.2042.4052

MOVEMENT: Zenith 4052 B (50 hour power reserve)

CASE SIZE: 40mm

WATER RESISTANCE: 100m/330ft

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