Half a century and several tribute remixes later, Zenith is finally offering the most faithful rendition of its A386 Chronomaster, but with beats from a new El Primero heart.
When it comes to the mighty El Primero chronograph, Zenith has been keeping enthusiasts busy and keen with tributes and reissues aplenty. In the past, reproductions of the early El Primero pieces were jazzed up with fresh colour permutations and trendy reimaginings to its design, to good reviews.
However, for many of the retro revivals launched, the barrel-shaped 37mm caseback of the A384 and A385 was chosen. There was also a matte-black version nicknamed ‘The Shadow’ with an intriguing tale of discovery with regards to its dials and blueprint in the dusty attic of post-war Zenith factory.
So if die-hard fans wanted the original 38mm A386 of ‘69, iterations on offer only had dials in a trio of blues (Manufacture edition) instead of the original grey, black and blue. The revival collection for its golden (or 50th) anniversary in 2019 was enshrined in a limited edition set of 3 A386s dressed up in different precious golds for festive reasons. No steel. Plus all 50 sets sold out swiftly.
It is also important to note that the El Primero movement was recently updated in the Sport Chronomaster to boast a more precise ‘1/10th of a second’ capability, hence propelling it into a price value league of its own. (More about this latest El Primero 2.0 in Zenith Chronomaster Sport: Decisecond and Counting).
In plain language, one could not own an El Primero-powered reissue in the form of an A386, wearing classic grey-black-blue for its dials with a plain steel strap. Until now – with the 2021 drop of these new Originals.
At long last, those who didn’t quite like the small-ish 37mm tonneau-shaped Chronos can rejoice – presenting these true originals – sized at 38mm in stainless steel with three registers swatched in the much coveted grey, black and blue. Good timing we say, trend-wise, as ‘gender-fluid’ watches sit big on all sorts of wrists right now.
Also notable – the collection is not exclusive but available in standard production. So anyone who really wants one, can get one. And for those not hankering for an exact ‘69 doppelganger, there is also the option of a version in 18k rose gold with tri-colour dials and another in a ‘reverse panda’ dial that’s black with silver sub-registers.
A bonus for the range points to the new version 2.0 of the El Primero calibre which sports a lateral clutch, column wheel and a 60 hour power reserve at its signature 36,000 bph frequency.
There are some nips and tucks made to keep the new model looking fresh and youthful. An updated Zenith logo; a sleek red seconds hand replaces the previous one sporting a square motif; and with the new movement, the outer tachymeter, inner ring and subdials are tweaked to read deciseconds. A steel bracelet replaces the ladder bracelet design with a popular 3-link oyster style, with polished centre links and a double-folding clasp. The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Original series also have calfskin leather strap options: navy blue for the silver dial stainless steel version, caramel cream for the black dial option and a dark chocolate for the rose gold watch.
But otherwise, the new original follows closely in terms of the round bezel-less steel case with the raised and domed crystal, that familiar mix of radial brushing and polishing, the stark elegance of the pump-style pushers and faceted lugs.
One can safely conclude that the new originals complete the full range of El Primero tribute and revival timepieces; with this faithful steel reprise included within the variety. While also including the movement upgrade within, not to mention some lovely tweaks to elevate the collection to satisfy today’s thirst for sharp and sporty looking timepieces.
Images courtesy of Zenith, artwork by Curatedition. All rights reserved.