It was in 1962 that the basics of the El Primero movement first took shape on the drawing board. The idea was simple: to create an iconic watch that would be launched in time for the centenary of the Manufacture in 1965. The idea was simple, but the technical specifications were not. It was to be the first automatic chronograph ever. Better still, the caliber was to be fully integrated and designed as an inseparable whole. There would be no additional module, but instead a construction built around a column wheel and a central rotor mounted on ball bearings. It would also need to beat at a high frequency in order to be the world’s most accurate chronograph. To complicate matters still further, the movement was to be miniaturised and equipped with a date mechanism. All these factors amounted to an equation so complex that it would take seven years to solve it – four years past the anniversary date.


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