Are Zenith watches now as prized as Rolex and Patek Philippe? The LVMH-owned brand’s Chronomaster Sport and Defy Skyline models now have waiting lists as long as the world’s most coveted Swiss timepieces

The Defy Skyline watch is a nod to Zenith’s iconic 1960s watches, and demand is currently outstripping supply for the model. Photo: Zenith

Customers seeking to buy Zenith brand watch models – including the popular Chronomaster Sport and Defy Skyline – are now having to join waiting lists as sales for the Swiss brand surge.

“We have a shortage and there is very little chance to get one without a long waiting time,” said Julien Tornare, the president and chief executive officer of LVMH-owned Zenith.

Why are waiting lists for luxury watches getting even longer?

This 38mm Zenith watch celebrates the El Primero movement that was first presented by the brand in 1969 – the original high-frequency chronograph movement. Photo: Zenith

The Zenith models join brands like Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe with watches where demand outstrips supply. The manufacturer has revived interest in the brand thanks to newer releases like the Chronomaster Sport and retro pieces including the Chronomaster Original, featuring tricoloured subdials.

Zenith watch sales are also rising overall, Tornare said, with sales in the first seven months of the year up about 45 per cent compared with last year’s record performance, which was the highest since the storied Swiss brand was acquired by LVMH in 1999.
Watches like the Zenith Chronomaster Sport rose gold models have revived interest in the brand, which was founded in 1865. Photo: Zenith

“It’s very positive in an environment which is still not perfect,” Tornare said, referring to continued disruptions in China because of Covid-19 lockdowns and concerns of weakening economies in the US and Europe.

Inside Chris Hemsworth’s superhero-worthy luxury watch collection

The Chronomaster Sport, a chronograph powered by Zenith’s El Primero movement, sells for about US$11,300 and is the company’s top selling watch model.

The Defy Skyline has an octagonal case reminiscent of Zenith’s original 1960s watch. Photo: Zenith

The Defy Skyline, another El Primero calibre-powered model, retails for about US$8,700. It was launched earlier this year, taking design cues like the octagonal case from the original watch first introduced in the 1960s.

Analysts at Morgan Stanley and LuxeConsult estimate that Zenith, based in the Swiss town of Le Locle, had sales of about US$116 million in 2021. LVMH does not disclose sales for its individual watch brands, which also include Tag Heuer and Hublot.
Want more stories like this? Follow STYLE on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and Twitter.
  • Like Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe, demand now far outstrips supply for the Swiss luxury watch brand’s latest models, says Zenith CEO Julien Tornare
  • Zenith’s El Primero was the world’s first chronograph movement with automatic winding in 1969, now the LVMH-owned brand finds itself out front again