“El Primero.” The first. Not only is the name of Zenith’s flagship chronograph calibre a history lesson in and of itself, but its naming convention also represents the brand’s relentless commitment to innovation and development since its founding in 1860. This has resulted in a legacy of iconic and memorable references — particularly in the 1960s and 1970s, many of which were powered by the El Primero, whose unique high-frequency beat rate and tri-color totalizers remain signatures of the brand’s most modern Chronomaster watches even today.
Founded in 1860 in St. Imier, Switzerland, by Edouard Heuer, it wouldn’t be until the mid-1960s that the Heuer name would roar into watchmaking legend, helping pioneer the development of the world’s first automatic chronograph, which would soon be depended upon by professional motor racers and coveted by enthusiasts. Through two formative decades in motorsport under the watchful eye of Jack Heuer, and savvy partnerships with legendary names like Ayrton Senna and Steve McQueen, the Heuer family name became synonymous with dependability, precision, and rebellious, but easy-wearing luxury. The brand would become known as TAG Heuer in 1985, plotting a future for the innovative, avant-garde watchmaker that the brand is best known as today.
With its early expertise in the automatic chronograph, TAG Heuer’s best-known designs remain the legendary Monaco (a favorite of McQueen’s), the sporty and youthful Formula 1, and the perennially innovative Carrera. The brand’s foray into the early, formative years of recreational diving would later yield the Aquaracer — a collection of sleek, super-capable dive watches descended from the original Heuer Professional from the 1980s. The TAG Heuer of today continues many of these sporting traditions and timekeeping innovations, through sponsorship of world-championship winning F1 drivers like Max Verstappen, development of deep-diving watches like the Aquaracer Superdiver, and the pioneering of its own Connected smartwatch platform, along with traditional chronograph movements like the Connective Calibre 11, which now powers the next generation of Monaco and Carrera references.