The race to create the first automatic winding chronograph movement could be considered the greatest arms race in the history of watchmaking. In the 1940s and 50’s the automatic wristwatch began to soar in popularity; people gravitated towards the idea of not having to wind their watch every day and who could blame them. By the 1960s, with no automatic chronograph movement available, sales of chronographs, in general, began to decline. The industry knew it needed to bring back chronograph sales so the Chronomatic group (led by Heuer and Breitling), Zenith, and Seiko set out to produce the world’s first automatic chronograph.
So who won the race? Well, that depends on what you consider the first to be. For us, it is the first automatic chronograph to be retailed to the public and that honor goes to the Chronomatic group with a variety of watches reaching the public markets in the summer of 1969. While the Chronomatic group might have been the first to retail an automatic chronograph, it didn’t come without compromise. These movements relied on a modular system which meant adding the automatic winding mechanism on top of the chronograph module. This made for a thicker movement, and therefore thicker watches, with a crown on the left side of the case. Zenith’s movement, on the other hand, was a fully integrated auto-winding system that resulted in better proportions and the standard right-hand crown. For a more detailed history of the race to create the first automatic chronograph we suggest reading Jeffrey M. Stein’s Project 99.
In the 1960s and ’70s, Movado had a partnership with Zenith that gave them access to the 3019PHC El Primero movement, and with that, they created the Datron HS360 featuring the El Primero as their premier self winding chronograph. The Datron HS360 features many of the great features of the early El Primero watches such as the three register layout and fantastic proportions. Unlike the Zenith models, many Datron movements were simplified down to 17 jewels but this particular watch retains the originals 31 Jewels.
The Case and Bracelet
At 38mm wide and 12mm thick, the Movado Datron HS360 has great modern proportions. The case is in overall good condition showing signs of a previous polish. There are numerous small scratches throughout that are appropriate for the watches age but no major scratches or defects to report.
On the back of the watch is an inscription that reads “Philip D. Davis In recognition of 25 years of service July 1 – 1976” and includes the IBM Century Club insignia. This points to a 1975 or 76 production year.
The bracelet is a JB Champion produced model for Movado. Both it and the case could benefit from a cleaning as there is some dirt/grime build-up in areas.
The Dial and Hands
This Movado wears a beautiful Blue and White reverse panda dial that has aged well over the years. There is minor discoloration on the edge of the white tachymeter scale but all of the printing remains sharp and legible. The tritium lume has aged evenly across the applied baton hour markers and hands and is in great condition with no degradation in any area.
This watch is powered by a Movado signed Zenith 3019PHC 31 Jewel El Primero movement. The watch is running and all functions of the chronograph are operational. Additionally, the seller notes no issues mechanically but service history is unknown.
|Movement||Automatic, 3019PHC 31 Jewel El Primero|
|Dial||Blue and White|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Stainless Steel|