The watch co-op Markenuhren-Verein or Markenuhr GmbH ("Watch Brand Company") was founded in 1924 by Willi König and Willibald Felsing of the Zentralverband der Deutschen Uhrmacher ("Central Association of German Watchmaking"). The company soon began using the name Centra or Zentra (a shortened form of "central") on watches and founded the ZentRa brand on September 4, 1927 in Berlin.
The company focused on building the brand throughout Germany and soon "ZentRa" watch stores were widespread. As was typical at the time, Zentra watches were built from various components: Most cases came from Germany, while movements were German (PUW) or Swiss (A. Schild and Minerva). The company advertised using the slogans, "die Uhr mit dem Reifezeugnis" ("the watch with a certificate of maturity") and "die treue Gefährtin" ("the faithful companion"), emphasizing reliability. The main competitor for Zentra at this time was Dugena, another popular and widespread German watch brand.
Zentra was moved to Cologne after World War II and renamed ZentRa Uhren GmbH. The company produced many popular watches for men and women aimed at the emerging middle class, from basic to stylish, and expanded to neighboring countries.
Zentra was a victim of the quartz crisis and ceased operations in the 1980's. An attempted revival then, as ZentRa e.V. failed, but in 2001, the brand was purchased by RS-Handelsgesellschaft of Düsseldorf. During that decade, Zentra was a companion brand to Javelle and Elysee and used mostly Japanese movements.
In 2010, the Zentra brand was taken over by Jürgen Schreitling and moved to Emden in Northern Germany. Under Schreitling, all Zentra production was moved back to Germany and a separate brand, ZentRa Savoy, was established for Swiss-made watches.