Introduced in 1969, the Zenith El Primero, which is known to be the first ever automatic high frequency (5 Hz) chronograph movement is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. To mark the occasion Zenith recently introduced a trio of A386 limited edition reissues and is now rebooting the reference A384.
A vintage A384 from 1969
Launched around the same time as the A386, one of the defining features the A384 was its unique case design and Zenith has done a great job of keeping things as close to the original as possible. Featuring a nice angular geometry, the case on this new watch is made from stainless steel and still measures a relatively small 37mm in diameter which should make it sit comfortably on a variety of wrists. It has been nicely finished and exhibits a good interplay between brushed and polished surfaces. While the original A384 came with an acrylic crystal and a closed case back, Zenith has taken a more modern route this time around by using sapphire on both front and back. The case is water resistant to a healthy 100 meters.
Just like the case, the dial on the new A384 is right on point looking almost identical to its vintage reference. It features a familiar tri-compax layout with an attractive panda style colorway. Akin to the original reference the sub-registers at 3 and 6 which track the elapsed minutes and running seconds are slightly larger in comparison to the hour counter at 6 which gives the dial a distinctive visual appeal. As for the rest of the dial you have applied, lume filled markers and hands, the controversial date window between 4 and 5 and a black tachymeter scale on the outer periphery. While the dial has an almost monochromatic look the bright red paddle style chronograph seconds hand breaks things up adding a splash of color to it.
Powering this watch is the latest iteration of the profound Zenith high beat El Primero caliber 400. The movement offers a power reserve of 50 hours and operates at a frequency of 36000 bph, which translates into an ultra-smooth sweep of the seconds hand. It features a column wheel mechanism which ensures a more satisfying chronograph operation. The movement has been beautifully decorated and can be admired through the exhibition case back.
The Zenith A384 re-issue is a great looking watch that showcases how a modern re-issue is done right. The watch would be available on either a black alligator leather strap or a vintage inspired ladder style bracelet. This mean machine would retail at a price of CHF 7,900.