Zenith: Watchmaker Review by NanaDC (2024) - Which Zenith Model to Buy?

Written by – Updated on April 6, 2024

Known for being a Swiss luxury watch brand, Zenith produces high-quality watches that are often compared to the likes of Omega, Breitling, and Cartier.

Before you spend on an expensive Zenith watch, though, you may want to know if it's really worth the investment.

Read my review of the top five Zenith watches below to find out if the brand is right for you!

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Original 1969 Watch: Best Overall

If the name's any indication, the Zenith El Primero Original 1969 is a tribute to the first-ever El Primero chronograph, which was released in 1969.

This model runs on the highly-coveted El Primero 400 automatic movement, which boasts a power reserve of 50 hours.

Users can depend on it to accurately tell time for up to two days without any movement—an impressive feat for most self-winding watches [R].

Clearly, the high-performing mechanism ensures the Zenith El Primero Original is both precise and powerful.

I also like how multifunctional this watch is: It has chronograph subdials and a tachymetric scale [R], so you can measure speeds and elapsed time easily.

In terms of design, the watch makes a statement without being too showy.

It has the iconic tri-color chronograph subdials of heritage Zenith watches, a subtle date window between four and five o'clock, and a brown alligator strap to match the silver casing.

Meanwhile, its sunray-patterned main dial adds depth, making for an elegant look overall.

Watch collectors will also be happy to know that the case back showcases the movements of the watch, so you can see the complex mechanisms at work.

Now, the Zenith El Primero Original watch doesn't come cheap, but it's a great one to add to your collection if you can afford it.


  • Water resistance of 100 meters
  • Quality automatic movement
  • Power reserve of 50 hours
  • Very functional
  • Classic and timeless design


  • Expensive
  • Some users find it hard to set time to seconds on this non-hacking watch

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Open Watch: Best Value

The Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Open puts a fun spin to the El Primero Original by revealing the inner movements on the main dial.

In terms of technical specifications, this watch shares the high-caliber El Primero automatic movement with its 50-hour power reserve.

It also has additional chronograph and tachymetric functions as well as 100-meter water resistance.

The watch is constructed of only high-quality materials such as stainless steel for the case, leather for the strap, and sapphire crystal for the dial.

However, what really stands out is the design.

At 42mm, it's big enough for anyone to notice the three-cog, self-winding mechanism in front. The blue, sunray dial pattern pops against the silver case and the black leather strap as well.

If you're looking for something a bit more unique than the Zenith El Primero Original but still as functional, then the Zenith El Primero Open is your best bet.


  • Water resistance of 100 meters
  • Quality automatic movement
  • Power reserve of 50 hours
  • Very functional
  • Fun and unique design


  • Expensive

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Watch: Best Budget Pick

The Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph is no entry-level watch by industry standards, but it's one of the more affordable ones by brand. This doesn't mean it's any less impressive, though.

I love that this collection combines vintage-inspired aesthetics and practical modernity in both its design and its specifications.

In particular, this watch features a grey dial with two darker-toned chronograph subdials, large Arabic numeral indices [R], and stylized luminescent "cathedral" hands for maximum readability. The olive-green strap it comes with reinforces its dated look.

Attached to the round case is a protruding, oversized crown that's both stylish and functional—it's specifically designed that way so that pilots can adjust the time even while wearing gloves.

For us civilians, though, it's a convenient feature for the colder winter months.

Like some of the other watches on this list, this automatic chronograph has the Zenith El Primero movement with a power reserve of 50 hours as well as a 100-meter water resistance.

Sized at 45mm, it's ideal for those with larger wrists or those who prefer bigger watches.

NanaDC Badass Rating: 4/5

  • The watch's 45mm case has a purposefully large and robust feel that's perfect for a pilot's watch. I can feel the weight and durability of the titanium case on my wrist.
  • The Zenith Heritage Pilot Ton Up Reference 11.2430.4069 features the brand's newest in-house automatic hi-beat column wheel chronograph movement, which has an impressive power reserve of at least 50 hours. I can trust that this watch will keep accurate time for days on end.

NanaDC Suave Rating: 4/5

  • The black Ruffini 'm'-plated hands match the dark titanium case, but they still stand out against the dial thanks to the liberal use of lume. I can appreciate the attention to detail that Zenith put into designing this watch.


  • Water resistance of 100 meters
  • Quality automatic movement
  • Power reserve of 50 hours


  • Some users may not like the aged look of this watch
  • It may look too big on some users

Zenith Elite Moonphase Watch

The ultra-slim Zenith Elite Moonphase watch is the epitome of class, minimalism, and timeless elegance.

The dial itself is spotless: It contains simple, Roman numeral indices, a subtle stop-second subdial, and a moon phase display at 6 o'clock.

I picked this specific model because of its mother-of-pearl pattern, which reminds us of clouds floating along a serene sky.

Although the watch's design elements are quite simple, everything flows together seamlessly and harmoniously.

I chose to showcase a Zenith Elite Moonphase watch with a plain, silver strap, but the collection offers various finishings to fit different preferences—there's even a rose gold one with diamonds studded all around the bezel!

Additionally, you can choose between a 36mm or 40.5mm case size, depending on whether you prefer a daintier look. However, both size options are still quite small, so those with larger wrists may not feel too comfortable wearing either of them.

Nevertheless, this is one of the best Zenith watches on the market. It's very minimalist, but it's packed with all the great functions of a typical Zenith timepiece.


  • Quality automatic movement
  • Power reserve of 50 hours
  • Unique moon phase display
  • Exquisite and sophisticated design


  • Water resistance of only 50 meters
  • Some users prefer the El Primero movement
  • Some users may find it a bit too small

Zenith Defy Classic Watch

Rounding up the list is the Zenith Defy Classic, a quirky and innovative watch with a big personality.

Unlike other Zenith watches, the Zenith Defy Classic has an unmistakable, tonneau-shaped [R] case attached to a boxy, titanium bracelet.

In contrast to the Zenith El Primero Open's watch display, this one showcases its Elite automatic movement in full force too.

The Zenith Defy Classic's whole dial is skeleton-type, which means you can see right through to its inner mechanisms.

Overall, the design looks futuristic, especially since the color motif primarily features metallics and dark tones.

In terms of its specifications, the Zenith Defy Classic holds its own against other Zenith watches—while it runs on the Elite automatic movement, it has a similar power reserve of 50 hours, and it possesses a 100-meter water resistance as well.

The Zenith Defy Classic watch is certainly not meant for everyone, but those who appreciate its unique look will find this watch truly extraordinary.

NanaDC Badass Rating: 5/5

  • The titanium bracelet of this watch is a testament to its strength and durability. With fastening, polishing, and beveling of the links, I can tell that this is a well-crafted timepiece. The double-folding clasp and twin trigger release ensure that the watch stays securely fastened to my wrist.

NanaDC Suave Rating: 4/5

  • The handsomely executed dial of this watch is both stylish and easy to read. The cantilevered indices and nickel anthracite coating add a touch of sophistication to the watch. The polished beveling on the edges of the central components resemble an automobile wheel spoke, giving the watch a sporty yet elegant look.


  • Water resistance of 100 meters
  • Quality automatic movement
  • Power reserve of 50 hours
  • Unique and futuristic design


  • More basic functions
  • Some users prefer the El Primero movement

Are Zenith Watches Good Quality?

Given that these timepieces don't come cheap, what makes Zenith the right choice over other luxury watch brands in the market?

Zenith Brand History and Reputation

When Georges Favre Jacot established the brand in 1865, his objective was simple: To create the finest, most precise timepiece possible.

To accomplish this, he made everything in-house—from the mechanical movements to the dial designs. Its Swiss-quality materials and workmanship quickly made Zenith a popular brand worldwide.

zenith brand history and reputation

Through the years, it would further make its mark on history through successful innovations as well.

Between the 1900s and the 1960s, Zenith won 233 awards, filed over 300 patents, and designed many movements that they would continue to use in their timepieces later on.

Some of its most famous patrons include ex-Prime Minister Nehru, who gifted a Zenith timepiece to Mahatma Gandhi, and Felix Baumgartner, who took a Zenith with him on his 2012 Red Bull Stratos mission [R].

Currently, everything is still made at Zenith's headquarters in Switzerland. This ensures only the best quality for all of its products.

Zenith Technology

Zenith prides itself on continuously striving for chronometric precision in all of its watches.

zenith watch technology

It develops and manufactures all of its movements in-house. One of its most famous mechanisms is the El Primero automatic movement, which was introduced in 1969 as the world's first high-frequency chronograph movement.

Currently, this original El Primero mechanism is present in different iterations inside many of its watches. Its 5 Hz frequency rate ensures excellent precision and power as well.

Evidently, Zenith prioritizes quality design and technology in all of its products, making it a brand worth trusting.

Where Can You Buy Zenith Watches?

To ensure authenticity and quality, you should only purchase Zenith watches from its website or authorized retailers.

You can find resellers and distributors online on Amazon, eBay, or other e-commerce sites. Preferably, it's best to buy Bulova watches on Amazon.

Since these watches are quite expensive, it's always best to be 100% sure before purchasing one. Always consult an official Zenith representative if you have any additional questions or concerns.

Zenith Watch Services and Warranty Policy

All of the watches sold by Zenith are covered by a 2-year international warranty starting from the date of purchase. Don't forget to keep your guarantee card, as you'll need to present this to claim the service.

Whether or not they're covered by the warranty, all repairs are only done at official Zenith service centers to ensure quality.

As these are very personalized processes, customers are informed of every necessary step, its respective cost, and its response time so that the exchange is fully transparent.

In addition to these, Zenith offers restoration for its vintage watches. If you have a Zenith watch with antique components, they'll be able to fix it up for you or find replacement parts easily.

To Sum It Up

Although I'm thoroughly impressed with all of the timepieces on this list, I recommend three in particular:

For those looking for an entry-level option to try out the brand, purchase the Zenith Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Watch. It's the best reflection of Zenith's historical value—but with added modern features.

For those wanting a unique yet timeless watch, check out the Zenith Chronomaster El Primo Open Watch. It has the high-end technology the brand is known for, and it adds a little something extra to your personal style.

Ultimately, though, you should go for the Zenith Chronomaster El Primo Original 1969 Watch. This specific timepiece has everything—powerful functions, excellent durability, and a classic look that won't go out of style.

Final Thoughts

Clearly, Zenith isn't just a luxury brand by name.

More than anything, its dedication to innovation, quality, and creativity proves it deserves to be among the top watch companies in the industry.