OFF THE BEATEN PATH. Zenith and Land Rover launch a timepiece celebrating their entwined destinies. Joezer Mandagi reports from Paris
September in Paris is a magical time. High season is over and the hordes of tourists looking for a romantic winter holiday have yet to arrive. So, you really get to see the city’s creative streak at work. Naturally, it seems extra fitting that this would become the venue for the unveiling of a grand collaboration between two legendary brands.
Chapter 1: 1969
Partnerships between automotive brands and watchmakers have been around for decades. So, what is it that makes this collaboration between Zenith and Land Rover worth taking note of? The short answer, as the two brands put it, is that this long-term partnership commitment is “explosive, creative and entirely natural.” For the long answer, a look at the history of these two trailblazers would paint a better picture.
Land Rover is an iconic car manufacturer, in the most literal sense of the word: most people would instantly recognize a Land Rover when they see one on the street. basically, the brand has been synonymous with all-terrain driving since their debut in the late 1940s and is still one of the go-to names for adventures through the roughest terrains. Then, in 1969, the British brand introduced an entirely new concept with its Range Rover line. besides its incomparable on- and off-road performance, the Range Rover was certainly considered up-market in contrast with preceding Land Rover models and has now evolved into one of the finest luxury SUVs.
The history of Zenith, meanwhile, stretches back even longer. For more than 150 years, the Swiss watch brand has built a name for precision. a total of 2,333 chronometry prizes amassed within a century and a half stands testament to this reputation. Today, Zenith is primarily known for the El Primero chronographs, one of the first automatic chronograph movements and arguably the most accurate in the world. The El Primero, by the way, made its debut also in 1969.
Interestingly, the El Primero chronograph and the Range Rover would have their first adventure together three years later. During his famous 136-day crossing of the Darién Gap, explorer John Blashford-Snell drove an early Range Rover while an El Primero chronograph sat on his wrist. If anything, the expedition showed how both models had the durability and capability to perform exceedingly well even under the most demanding conditions.
In the years to come, there have been numerous attempts to copy both the El Primero and the Range Rover. But few—if any—have managed to equal them. Their iconic silhouettes, charisma and technical performance remain exemplary and have turned them from yesterday’s trailblazers into today’s archetypes.
Read more about our adventure in Paris on the next page.