As the crown jewel in last year’s 50th anniversary tribute to its famous El Primero chronograph caliber, Zenith launched a highly period-accurate reissue of the Ref. A384 model from 1969. This year, Zenith unveils another vintage-look El Primero homage piece, this one built around a never-before-seen prototype dial discovered in a secret attic of the company’s historical manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland.
The story behind the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition, which launched exclusively on Zenith’s recently established e-commerce platform, begins with the discovery of a small, unlabeled box in the now-legendary hidden attic where foresighted Zenith employee Charles Vermot stashed all the company’s El Primero documents and materials to preserve them through the 1970s Quartz Crisis. Inside the box was a handful of tricolor dials similar to the one used on the now-familiar Ref. A386 El Primero watch. However, unlike that model’s blue-gray-silver combo, these prototype dials, which were apparently never used on a commercial model, featured subdials in three shades of blue.
The watch’s 38-mm stainless steel case, with pump-style chronograph pushers, replicates the original case of the Ref. A386 from 1969; Zenith says that this watch will be the last one available with that retro-sized case. The white-lacquered dial with three differently shaded blue subdials (small seconds at 9 o’clock, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock) is bordered by a tachymeter scale in black and hosts a date window at 4:30. The rhodium-plated hands and white faceted hour markers are coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C1.
Inside the case, beating at its customary lightning-quick of 36,600 vph (5 Hz), is the automatic El Primero 400 caliber —the most up-to-date version of its ancestor, honed and fine-tuned over the course of a half century since its landmark debut in 1969. The movement boasts a column-wheel chronograph mechanism that measures elapsed times to the 1/10 second and amasses a 50-hour power reserve.
The Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition is presented on a blue alligator strap, with a protective rubber lining and a steel pin buckle, inside a special box that resembles a book with a blueprint of the Zenith manufacture on its cover. The packaging also includes a reproduction of one of the vintage dials unearthed in the attic, and a comic book by the Swiss cartoonist Cosey depicting the fascinating story of Charles Vermot. In addition to its availability on the e-commerce site, the watch will also be available to visitors to the Zenith manufacture, once pandemic restrictions lapse and guests are once again welcomed.