Zenith S. 58: A watch still covered in a mist of mystery…
Some sources claim the name comes from the Sikorsky S-58 helicopters and that the S. 58 was a helicopter pilot watch, some say the first batch of 2500 pieces were all sold to the Italian Marine…
My understanding is that the name comes from the fact that the watch was launched as a super-waterproof watch in 1958, hence S. 58.
I will not speculate further on the name, but one of the reasons I am having a hard time believing the military connection (even if I would love to) is the fact that I never encountered a S. 58 with any kind of military engravings. Another reason is that if 2500 military pieces existed, I think a lot more would already been known about this watch.
What is known as a fact and I think all collectors agree upon is that the very first generation of the S. 58 was released with manual movement, the Zenith Calibre 120 with gilt bridges.
Another fact is that the first version did not have any date window or a turning bezel. Here is mine with a black dial that have turned into browning grey.
Another fact that I think all collectors are in an agreement on is the hands. The hands on my S. 58 is wider at the base and the seconds hand have a longer arrow head and longer tail than show in the ad below.
The ad below is one of the few known documents of the S. 58 without turning bezel that I am aware of.
Notice the “S. 58 super-étanche”? French for S. 58 super-waterproof.
The first generation with the Calibre 120 have a flat case back compared with the automatic version and of course, the S. 58 engraving!
I know for a fact that between the Manual – No Date – No Turning Bezel version and the Automatic – Date – Turning Bezel version, there were a Automatic – No Date – No Turning Bezel version (will return to that one in a separate post).
But, did it ever exist a Manual – Date – No Turning Bezel version?!
I never saw one, neither in real or in photo, but I found this Egypt(?) ad from 1959 (the seller of the ad stated Egypt). It’s clearly a hand drawn picture based on the photo of the first ad.
Look at three o’clock, for sure a date window! Now, I am not able to read the text but would love to know if there is any mentioning of a date.
Yes, the Zenith S. 58 is still covered in a mist of mystery…
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