In 2019 Zenith celebrated the 50th anniversary of the iconic El Primero, by releasing a trio of the A386, the first watch to be powered by the iconic high-frequency automatic chronograph movement. While the watches remained true to their vintage inspiration in terms of the overall design, they were released in a highly limited quantity and only with a precious metal body, making them quite expensive and difficult to attain. But now the wait is finally over as Zenith has finally launched the new-age A386 references called the Chronomaster Original. There are once again three new watches on offer: two in stainless steel and one in Rose Gold and all of them are non-limited and are powered by the latest El Primero caliber 36000.
Like the 50th-anniversary re-edition watches, the new Chronomaster Original references remain true to their vintage inspiration for the most part. To begin with, you still get the well-proportioned 38mm case which is finely finished exhibiting a nice mix of brushed and polished surfaces. Crafted from stainless-steel or Rose gold, the case maintains its silhouette and features a nice round shape with sharp chunky lugs, sporty pump-style chronograph pushers, a nice grippy crown. Sitting on top of the case is a beautifully domed crystal that is now sapphire instead of acrylic to better withstand wear and tear. And finally, the rear of the case comes with an exhibition case-back giving a great view of the caliber 36000.
Like the case, the dial continues to showcase the vintage design elements. Taking center stage is the overlapping tri-compax chronograph setup which has been presented in two different variations. Purists can opt for the much-loved tri-colored arrangement with a silver base dial and others can enjoy the full white on black dial reverse panda variation. The applied markers and hands have a rectangular design and have been filled with luminous paint for better low-light visibility. Furthermore, while the steel and rose gold models get white luminous paint, the reverse panda variation gets custard-colored luminous paint for a vintage vibe.
While the case and dial stick to the vintage recipe, the internals of these new watches are thoroughly modern and come in the form of the caliber 36000. An automatic column wheel-based chronograph movement, the caliber 36000 continues to operate at 5Hz, but as compared to the previous generation El Primero movement offers a higher power reserve of around 60 hours. This new movement is also capable of accurately tracking up to 1/10th of a second using the chronograph hand which wasn’t possible earlier. The movement is nicely finished and can be enjoyed through the sapphire case back.
The new Zenith Chronomaster Original A386 watches can be purchased on a leather strap for USD 8,400 in steel and CHF 19,100 in Rose gold. The steel models on the bracelet would cost USD 9,000.