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Zenith and Phillips Partner for a One-of-a-Kind El Primero A386


Zenith this year has been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the EL Primero chronograph, and to cap off this massive milestone has partnered with auction house Phillips, in association with Bacs & Russo, to produce and auction a unique piece for charity. This new watch will be the first and only El Primero A386 to be produced in platinum, and continues to celebrate the invention of the game-changing automatic chronograph first released to the public eye in 1969.

Zenith x Phillips El Primero Platinum
Zenith x Phillips El Primero A386 in Platinum

 The actual style of the watch will be familiar to fans of the El Primero, with its elongated lugs, simple pump chrono pushers, and sturdy Zenith-signed crown outlining the bright face. This is the first Zenith watch to use lapis lazuli for its dial, which is a beautiful blue stone with flecks of gold found throughout. This special material plays host to the vintage-inspired style of the A386 dial configuration, with its outer tachymetric scale, applied and lume-accented hour markers, the 4:30 date window, and subdials for running seconds, 30-minute counter, and 12-hour counter. The 12-hour counter is slightly shrunken compared to the two other subdials, and lacks the overlapping characteristic common to the A386. This is likely due to the fragility of lapis lazuli and Zenith’s need to give the dial a more structural support, but this layout also adds an element of uniqueness to the aesthetic of the watch.

Zenith x Phillips El Primero A386 side
The watch is the first El Primero in a platinum case.

Determining the time on the dial are two sporty lume-accented hands, both complemented by a square-tipped chronograph seconds counter. These hands are powered by the modern EL Primero 400 automatic caliber: a 50-hour power reserve movement beating briskly at 36,000 VPH, and visible behind a sapphire caseback signed “The One Off.” The caseback is also signed with a commemorative “1969-2019” and a reference to the partnerships with Phillips.

Zenith x Phillips El Primero Platinum - back
The self-winding El Primero caliber beats behind a signed sapphire caseback.

 Taken as a whole, this one-off piece is quite unique. From the use of lapis lazuli for the dial and platinum for the case, to its being produced in one of the most iconic sports styles, that of the El Primero A386, it’s an uncommon sight to see these traits brought together within a single watch.

The unique piece will be first shown to the public at a special event on November 8 at Hôtel La Réserve in Geneva, and will be auctioned the following two days at the same location on November 9-10, 2019. All proceeds from the auction will benefit Zoe4Life, a Swiss non-profit and part of the Childhood Cancer International Network, its mission is to support research, provide financial support to families in need, support children during their treatments, and raise awareness about childhood cancer.

Zenith x Phillips El Primero Platinum dial CU
The lapis lazuli dial is blue flecked with gold.

 

4 Responses to “Zenith and Phillips Partner for a One-of-a-Kind El Primero A386”

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  1. The face looks stunning if you are not bothered by the recessed decimal scale that looks a bit cheap and could have been made much more delicate with a white or platinum applique. The brushed lugs actually gives the watch a very nice look. But I have to agree that the back looks cheap. The engraving looks terrible without model number and having 2 different fonts, the back is not fixed with small screws but screwed on and will never be straight. The print on the crystal should be forbidden, it is not Zenith worthy to do it like this. A high quality engraving would be much better. The long Phillips part makes it look like a cheap give away to promote Phillips and not honour the 50 years celebration of the El Primero movement. Kudos though for the initiative to sponsor such a good cause. Maybe Zenith can change the back before the auction?

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  2. Agree, I actually thought it was a sticker; “one off” should be engraved on the metal. I also think the unpolished lugs make it look unfinished and unpalatable. So sad, but for these two unforgivable issues, t would be a very nice watch.

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  3. Abraham

    I agree, it spoils the watch, as it creates the impression that it is a sticker.

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  4. Steve Loader

    Stunning watch, although the lack of (dare I say it) ‘iconic’ overlapping subdials is a real shame.

    But what is truly unforgivable for what should be an immaculately designed watch is the appalling ‘the one-off’ text in an ugly thick font on the display glass.

    By comparison it makes the Grand Seiko printed lion look supremely elegant!

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