Seemingly out of the blue, as it were, we have a new El Primero chronograph to introduce from Zenith, and it comes with a pretty amazing story that builds on the legendary tale of Charles Vermot and the attic of the Zenith manufacture.
As almost anyone who was paying attention to the watch world last year and witnessed the cavalcade of 50th anniversary El Primero launches knows, Vermot, now celebrated as a hero, was the rogue employee who went against his company’s management and stashed away tooling for the El Primero chronograph during the height of the quartz crisis. This act of defiance, which ultimately showed critical foresight, allowed Zenith to be reborn as a modern luxury watch brand.
It was just a couple of weeks ago that we covered a revivalist spin on an unnamed all-black Zenith prototype that’s been cased up in a titanium A384 case. Today, we’re looking at another revival piece, this time based on dials discovered in the famous attic in November of 2018.
Like the original tricolor A386 – which was grey, black, and blue – these feature three overlapping subdials. Only here, the subdials are subtly different shades of blue. Based on the fact that they were found in a box in the attic among other El Primero artifacts, presumably stashed there by Mr. Vermot, it was assumed that this alternative dial formation was itself a prototype A386 dial. Apart from the different subdial colors, this blue dial and the original A386 dial are identical. Until today, Zenith had never commercialized this design. In what Zenith says will be the final version of the A386 available in the original Revival case, it’s being released as the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition.
Zenith’s original plan had been to make the watch an exclusive edition that would be available only to visitors to the Le Locle, Switzerland, manufacture. But given the current global situation, with many areas of the world still locked down, it’s being made available exclusively through Zenith’s new e-commerce platform until the Zenith manufacture re-opens.
Upon seeing this watch, I thought it was beautiful. The three overlapping shades of blue feel to me like a fresh take on a timeless design, and it seems that they have come from the very period when the El Primero was born. The story of the Zenith attic is rightly regarded as legendary: It’s given so much to the modern Zenith brand and to watch collectors more broadly. Now, we have yet another unexpected discovery from the attic.
This is a compelling piece that reveals an alternative to what is easily the best-known and most iconic Zenith watch design. Though it is available exclusively from Zenith, it figures to be something that those with the means and the desire should be able to get their hands on. The new Zenith e-commerce site is being rolled out gradually by region. France, Italy, and Switzerland will open in May, followed by Germany, Spain, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The watch will come with packaging that mimics the look of a book and features a blueprint-like depiction of the Zenith manufacture.
Its shades of blue remind me of two unique platinum A386s that Zenith came out with last year that were auctioned at Only Watch and by Phillips, respectively. The Only Watch version featured a conventional tri-color dial, with lighter shades for the sub-dials, and this, of course, included a lighter shade of blue. And the watch sold by Phillips was really more in line with the dial design of the original gold A381, though with a dial made from lapis lazuli.
This is a cool watch that adds an unexpected chapter to the story of the El Primero. The fact that it appears not to be a limited edition and that it is priced very reasonably, in my opinion, at $ 8,700, is something that makes me happy.
Model: Chronomaster Revival A386 Manufacture Edition
Reference Number: Ref 03.Z386.400/60.C843
Case Material: Stainless steel
Dial Color: White-lacquered dial with three blue counters in different shades of blue
Indexes: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C1
Lume: Yes, Super-LumiNova
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Blue alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining. Stainless steel pin buckle.
Caliber: El Primero 400
Functions: Hours and minutes from the center. Small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Tachymetric scale. Date indication at 4:30.
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Frequency: 36,000 vph
Pricing & Availability
Price: $ 8,700
Limited Edition: No
For more, click here.