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.
It is the first “new” timepiece that catches my attention in a long time. It has become extremely difficult for me to increase my already very large collection since the manufactures went wild with their designs or lost sense of creativity. This piece- thanks to the old guys- turns a page.
Must say I have never felt that it was difficult to read the time on my A386.
All designs will have some flaws. Zenith designs seems to have this issue. In this case it is not as bad because the hands hqve markers and if you notice, 75 pct of the background is actually in blue due to the sub dials. This, it is still quite easy to read the time. The overall is quite nice. I do not mind to own a pc. I would say this is one of the better designs of the El Primero range.
I have never understood why designers think white hands on a silver dial is a good idea. It is so hard to read especially outside or if you are taking a quick glance down to see the time. I have a Rolex Daytona with silver hands on a silver dial and hardly ever wear it because i find it difficult to read the time….