Earlier this year, Zenith released the Chronomaster Original, a 21st Century re-edition of its classic A386 model from the seminal year of 1969, in which the Swiss brand introduced its El Primero chronograph movement. The A386 reference was one of the very first wristwatches to contain that historical high-frequency caliber, and it was notable for introducing the tricolor silver-blue-gray subdial design that has become emblematic of El Primero-equipped watches in the Chronomaster family. Today Zenith launches a new version of the Chronomaster Original, available exclusively in the brand’s online boutique, that extends the tricolor motif from the dial to the scale surrounding it.
Like its recent predecessor, the Chronomaster Original E-commerce Edition adheres closely to the look and spirit of its 1969 ancestor, with a period-appropriate 38-mm stainless steel case topped by a thin, practically non-existent bezel; a raised box-type sapphire crystal, and pump-style chrono pushers on the right side. In addition to hosting the aforementioned tricolor subdials at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock, and the trapezoidal date window at 4:30, this iteration of the watch also uses the silver, gray and blue tones on the scale that borders the main dial, splitting it into three colorful sections.
The tricolor border around the dial — it’s the first time that Zenith has used the color scheme on elements other than the chronograph counters — is notable for its use of a 1/10th-second scale, replacing the tachymeter scale of the original A386 and its many descendants, which is subdivided into 100 measurable time units. When the chronograph is activated, the central hand makes a full rotation around the dial in 10 seconds, rather than the traditional 60 seconds, allowing precise measurement of elapsed times to the nearest 1/10th second on the scales. Zenith debuted this innovative design in the Chronomaster Sport collection introduced earlier this year. Like those watches, this one houses the most upgraded version of the El Primero, Caliber 3600, on display behind a sapphire caseback. The self-winding movement features a blued column wheel to drive the chronograph functions and an openworked rotor with a five-pointed Zenith star emblem to amass its lengthy 60-hour power reserve. Its balance’s high frequency of 36,600 vph (5 Hz) enables the chronograph to make precise time measurements to the 1/10th second.
The tricolor theme extends to the strap, which is made of dark gray nubuck leather that echoes the shade of the chronograph minute counter at 6 o’clock, with blue looped stitching on the right side (matching the color of the 6 o’clock seconds counter) and light gray stitching on the left (matching the hue of the 9 o’clock running seconds counter). the Zenith Chronomaster Original E-commerce Edition, as its name implies, joins a handful of other Zenith special editions available exclusively online and its is delivered in a special box that mimics the look of a coffee table book and contains three collectible postcards in the signature three dial colors, each depicting the watch in minimalist 2D renderings. The watch retails for $8,400.