Historic facade of the Manufacture Zenith bearing the initials of its founder, Georges Favre-Jacot
In the 19th century in the region of Le Locle, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking, numerous artisans worked in small scattered workshops, or in their own homes, with no particular links between them. Based on the principle that all the parts of a watch are interdependent, Zenith founder Georges Favre-Jacot decided to bring together the full range of watchmaking professions under one roof in 1865. This marked the birth of the first ever Manufacture – a term to which only a few watch companies can still lay claim, since it involves in-house mastery of all stages involved in developing and producing movements.
decided to gather
all the watchmaking crafts under one roof in 1865
Uniting all skills within a single location made a major contribution to the advancement of production technologies – especially since Georges Favre-Jacot constantly developed new machines and production processes in his relentless quest to improve the reliability and the precision of his timepieces. To back the hand-crafted care lavished on developing and finishing each part, the watchmaker once again demonstrated his impressive entrepreneurial spirit by devising the concepts of interchangeable parts and automated production. Results were not long in coming.
Georges Favre-Jacot, founder of Zenith
Ateliers Zenith, mounting processes
The historic facade of the Manufacture
The Manufacture in Le Locle soon began worldwide exportation of the most precise watches ever made, sealing its destiny as bound up with chronometric (precision-timing) performance.Over 2,500 operations for a single watch Still located in the premises where it was founded in 1865, the Manufacture Zenith currently houses 80 professions exercised by its 250-strong personnel. Whether exponents of the more artistic crafts or of ultra-technical skills, all are engaged in the task undertaken by Georges Favre-Jacot 150 years ago: that of mastering each gesture in order to enable free-spirited creation of mechanical marvels combining noble watchmaking traditions with avant-garde innovations.
Creating feats of mechanical prowess that combine great watchmaking tradition and avant-garde innovation
From technical plans to the last polishing and through prototype-making, movement ébauches, stamping, tool-making, research on materials, decoration, assembling and casing-up, each step must be executed to perfection. This involves a blend of dexterity, patience and rigorous standards. Making a single watch in the El Primero Collection actually entails an average of nine months during which over 2,500 operations are performed by 300 pairs of expert hands.
In perpetuating the legacy of its founder, Zenith has begun the mammoth task of renovating the 19 buildings of its Manufacture – a process which will be completed in 2015, its 150th anniversary year. While applying the most advanced technologies, Zenith has chosen to jealously safeguard the site’s historical architecture – for it is within these red-brick walls with their large picture windows that the finest chapters of its legend have been written and will continue to be written for many generations to come.