This wasn’t a problem unique to Zenith. Thirty-five miles away, the same decision was reached at Valjoux (now ETA SA). The production of the caliber 7750 chronograph was halted, and, for a moment, there were almost no more self-winding chronographs being made in Switzerland – the Chronomatic hung on for dear life.
But Zenith continued to struggle under the new management and with the new strategy. Its production line was not adapted to quartz technology, and its employees not accustomed to working on it either. In 1978, Zenith was – in retrospect, inevitably – sold back to Swiss owners.
Gone, but not forgotten, the El Primero continued to intrigue those who refused to give up on mechanical watches, and in 1981 Ebel decided to purchase unassembled Calibre 3019PHC movements. Zenith had so many the company could deliver them progressively over a period of three years, while it measured the public’s reaction.