The history of Zenith can currently be obtained by visiting the Zenith Website.
Zenith Neuchatel Clocks - There seems to be little or no information about this subject. There are several fine Swiss clocks made by Zenith that are almost never mentioned. They are rare and the only agent for them at present (2010) is in Canada.
U.S. RepresentativeZenith watches were imported into the U.S. by Edmond E. Robert. This apparently started around the 1909 date of the linked-to ad, as earlier ads for Zenith watches don't seem to have appeared in the Jewelers Circular - Weekly and Horological Review.
Railroad Standard WatchesA small number of highly jeweled, high grade watches (having 17-23 pocket watch jewels) were built for the North American railroad market. These seem to have been mostly sold into Canada. Nevertheless, there is documentation that at least one U.S. railroad accepted Zenith watches into railroad time service for use as a railroad watch. The movements are Lever Set and have a watch adjustment to five positions, or in the case of the Extra RR 56 grade, six positions. The movements were available in a watch size of 16, with some grades also being available in 18-size.
The last of the series, the Extra RR 56 grade, were exported to Canada in 1956. NAWCC member Peter Kushnir, a former time service official for CP Rail, has stated that:
As the Canadian representative for Zenith, located in Hamilton, Ontario in the 1950s, he recommended that one of their calibers be modified to include all of the features needed to be accepted as a railroad watch for use in railroad time service.
One thousand of these were imported, five hundred bearing ordinary Canadian Dials and five hundred fitted with Marginal Minute Canadian dials.
The "56" in the grade name represents 1956, the year they were built.
These watches were supplied out of Canadian distribution for use on the Alaska Railroad.
Standard Watch Grades
No Zenith or jobber literature has come to light that describes or lists Zenith grades that were suitable for use as standard watches. Nor is there a serial number vs. grade or date list available. Nevertheless, the following information has been developed from reports of surviving examples.
Zenith Railroad Standard Watch Grades
Grade Size Jewels Approximate Serial Number Neighborhood Comment Prima 18 17 1,644,8xx No 16-size examples reported. Prima 16 19 1,730,4xx No 18-size examples reported. Prima 12 21 2,511,6xx Prima 16 21 3,188,5xx Superior 19 2,389,2xx Superior 18 21 1,644,8xx 18-size, 23-jewel Extra grade intermingled w/ this S/N Superior 16 21 2,856,4xx Extra RR 56 (courtesy H. Clitheroe) 16 21 4,679,xxx & 4,732,xxx No 18-size made. Extra 18 23 1,644,8xx Extra 16 23 1,671,xxx
With the exception of the Extra RR 56 grade, the number of reported examples is very small, sometimes only one watch. These reports are subject to errors in reporting or in recording of the data.
Categories: Category Swiss watch makers