The subtle differences between one version of an icon and another can make for hours of lively discussion among watch collectors, and Zenith has kept the conversation going with its many iterations of the El Primero series. The new e-commerce, online-exclusive edition of the Chronomaster Original, which contains the famous El Primero movement, represents a first in its application of the model’s signature colors, and it extends the hues to the strap.
Earlier this summer, Zenith launched the Chronomaster Original, the closest version yet of the original A386 steel El Primero, with its iconic tri-color overlapping subdial configuration. Zenith says collectors were pining for a standard-production, steel version of the legendary 1969 model, and the Original served the purpose. The e-commerce Chronomaster Original is also steel, and it incorporates the same tri-color registers in light gray, dark gray and blue, but extends the colors to the 1/10th of a second scale that circles the outer dial. It’s the first time another part of the dial besides the chronograph counters have been treated with the same three colors that are linked to the El Primero. Zenith says the division of the 1/10th of a second scale into three distinct portions was more than an aesthetic choice. It simplifies reading the scale.
The movement, the caliber El Primero 3600, is the most recent evolution of the famous high-beat movement (36,000 vph compared to the standard 28,800 vph). It can now measure and display elapsed time to 1/10th of a second, which is displayed on the inner scale surrounding the dial, an index once used to track a 1/100th of an hour time division system. On the new 1/10th of a second index, the chronograph hand makes a rotation around the dial in 10 seconds.
The Chronomaster Original and the e-commerce edition are the same as the 1969 model in terms of proportion: the case is 38mm, a dimension thought to work best with the dial design, and which can be worn comfortably by all wrists. It also has the same no-bezel case design, pump-style chronograph pushers, raised, domed crystal, faceted lugs, and the mix of brushed and polished surfaces. The dial background on the E-commerce piece is white lacquer.
The tri-color theme on the dial extends to the strap, which is made of dark gray nubuck leather matching the chronograph’s minute counter at 6 o’clock of the dial, with a looped stitch in blue on the right side matching the chronograph’s second counter at 3 o’clock, and a light gray stitch on the left side matching the running seconds register.
The Chronomaster Original e-commerce ($8,400) is delivered in a special watch box that mimics the look of a coffee table book, depicting a 2-D drawing of the watch on the cover. It is the second exclusive online offering from Zenith. The first was the Chronomaster Manufacture edition that launched in 2020, which was originally available for purchase only to buyers who visited the manufacture, but was sold online due to Covid. This model is unlimited.