Playing the blues with Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition

by Valerie Wee

Zenith unearths yet another find – a previously unknown prototype dial – to create the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition.

For Zenith, 2019 was the year that solidified the Swiss watchmaker’s status as a world-class brand behind the world’s first automatic high-frequency movement as well as a hot favourite for serious collectors. Think of it as the ‘ticking equivalent’ of a Kanye West or Ed Sheeran of the watch industry – Zenith’s El Primero has been the movement of choice for other watches including the Rolex Cosmograph Daytonas. There are tourbillons, open-working movements, time-only watches and annual calendars that utilise its innovation. And now it seems, is time for the brand to shine solo as a formidable name in luxury timepieces.

2019 also marked the 50th anniversary of the El Primero. As such, the world got to witness the gradual discovery of blueprints, tools and prototypes; secrets stashed away in a nook in the attic of Zenith’s factory in Le Locle since the 1970s, by workshop foreman Charles Vermot who defied orders to destroy all materials pertaining to mechanical horology. In hindsight, that was probably the most fortuitous act of workplace violation as it helped propel Zenith to where it stands today.

A white dial with tri-tones of blue is discovered in 2018

Amongst the artefacts, a little nondescript box – unlabelled – was recovered. Inside were a handful of dials in pristine condition – including the familiar grey, black and blue sub-dials of the A386. Another dial sporting unfamiliar tri-tones of blue from electric to navy was also found. As there were no records or documentation of this variant plus it was carefully kept with the original A386, the folks at Zenith speculated that this must have been a prototype intended either as an alternative or a special edition.

New but with a vintage soul

Better late than never – as the saying goes. 2020 sees this fresh-faced A386 emerge from the production line with an initial intention to be offered as a timepiece exclusive to visitors at the factory. Hence its namesake – the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition.  What makes this piece special is that it is the final edition of the A386 with the original ‘Revival’ 38mm radially brushed case – an exact reproduction of the 1969 version – replete with the same faceted lugs, flat bezel, pump-style chrono pushers, elements like the black minute track, white markers and historic fonts recreated precisely, and the mighty El Primero beating within.

The important distinction here is that this A386 will be wearing a modern suit of stainless steel with a deliciously dark blue alligator strap secured by a steel pin buckle. Last year, the three  A386 versions were crafted in yellow, white and rose gold, thus making sticker prices predictably higher. So this true blue edition is going to be more attainable for enthusiasts and collectors alike. In addition, a see-through sapphire caseback makes admiring the movement much easier.

First commemorative released online

The back story is also another great reason to have this watch. A little piece of history carefully and lovingly recreated. The initial idea of making it a commemorative piece exclusive to visitors of the factory was also an exciting one. The watch sits in a packaging that mimics a thick blue book with the map of the factory illustrated on its cover. Included is a graphic novel about Charles Vermot by renowned Swiss cartoonist Cosey as well as a reproduction of the vintage dial found in the attic.

With the turn of unfortunate events happening worldwide, Zenith has made the Manufacture Edition available for purchase on its e-commerce sites for parts of Europe and the United States, to include a factory visit to be scheduled at an opportune time for fans in the future.

If you are based in Singapore, and keen to secure this special edition, you can email, or call +65 6688 7757 to enquire.


Images courtesy of Zenith, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.

Related link:

Zenith brings the story of its iconic El Primero in an interactive showcase



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