Zenith launched last year the El Primero A384. It is not a vintage-inspired piece but the accurate reproduction of the 1969 launched piece. Under the full name of Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384, the historic watch was reborn in the contemporain. A year after its launch, we took the El Primero A384 for a spin. This is my presentation and thoughts about it with a touch of historical moments, a feminine note and a huge gallery.
Hands-on Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384
1969 was one of the years that defined the modern history. And not only for Zenith but for humanity. For the best understanding of the socio-political environment of the A384’s launch, I will add some of the most important events that happened that year.
The watch reviewed today is one of the prototypes available for the press and brand’s representative. It was a loan from Zenith through Corrina Fromm Communication. This timepiece bears the marks of one year of hard work, meetings and many, many wrists. In this article, you can find how the El Primero A384 survived its first year.
The first thing that came in mind, thinking about the ’60s, was the Pop Art culture. And since we talk about that movement, one must remind about Andy Warhol. So Diana and I jumped in the car and visited Museum Brandhorst, in Munchen, where a great collection of Warhol works are exposed.
Note: many of the lifestyle pictures were especially retouched in Lightroom to evoke the ’60s and ’70s. The art presented in the pictures is exposed at Brandhorst. Please visit the museum if you got the chance.
The tonneau-shaped case
Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 comes in a steel case that replicates in detail the 1969 launched piece. The only exterior differences being the domed sapphire crystal on top instead of acrylic glass and the exhibition case back.
The 37 mm case is decorated with a series of polished and brushed surfaces. The face presents a sun-rayed fine brushing. The caseband and the side of the lugs have a vertical brush and the lugs faces are mirror polished. The edge of the case is generously chamfered on left and right and was mirror polished. A great set of details. In 1969, but also today, the El Primero A384 stands out with its original design.
1969 was a great year! Some excerpts from Wikipedia: Led Zeppelin, the first Led Zeppelin album, is released in the United States; The Beatles give their last public performance, of several tracks on the roof of Apple Records, London (featured in Let It Be (1970 film)); The Boeing 747 “jumbo jet” is flown for the first time.
El Primero A384 comes with generous pushers and a relative flat crown. The polished details are lovely and the Zenith star on the crown steals the show. The view is balanced and pleasant by all standards. The handling is exceptional. The hands-on video above can offer a glimpse of how easy is to set and use.
The Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 is well behaved on the wrist. Its classic dimensions are a good fit for most of the wrist. The watch can be equally masculine and feminine. It is so iconic that transcends any idea of genre.
1969 was a colourful year. The hippy movement, the bell-bottoms and boots, jeans and leather, strong colours in an unusual combination. The year when the very first U.S. troop withdrawals are made from the Vietnam War. Apollo program Moon landing: at 10:56 pm ET (02:56 UTC July 21) Apollo 11‘s lunar module Eagle lands on the Moon’s surface. The Woodstock Festival is held. (Excerpts from Wikipedia).
Panda dial and an exceptionally strong Lume game
The three registers configuration is no secret. The panda dial with outer tachymeter scale is another classic. El Primero is an icon. But what amazed me from the very beginning was the strong and lovely luminescent used. Even in the lightest shade, the hands and indexes popped out.
El Primero A384 uses a central chrono hands, a 30-minutes counter at 3 o’clock and a 12 hours totaliser at 6 o’clock. The 9 o’clock subdial displays the running seconds. The 36,000 vph movement is capable to measure and display 1/5 of a second. A revolution back then, still an exceptional chronograph now (considering the modern watches uses 28,800 vph movements).
The applied hours’ markers and the hands are manufactured in steel with a rhodium-plating. They were faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova®SLN C3. The eligibility is exceptional.
The black sub-dials are slightly recessed and decorated with a circular pattern. The white indexes and numerals are transfer printed. The baton hands are varnished in white. The outer register, dedicated to the tachymetric function presents the same white transfer printing on a black background.
The date window is placed between 4 and 5 o’clock. It uses a “black on white” configuration. Since the date window bites from the chronograph’s register, the outer side of the window was decorated with silver indexes. In this way, the chrono readout is not compromised in that area.
On of the cutest detail of the dial, besides the red varnished chrono hand is the Zenith star. Together with the hand-written style El Primero, it governs the top of the dial.
Remember Scooby-Doo – in 1969 airs its first episode on the CBS network in the United States. Sesame Street airs its first episode too. The Beatles release that year their Abbey Road album (for which that iconic picture was taken earlier that year). The first ARPANET link is established (the progenitor of the global Internet) and the first Concorde test flight is conducted. (Excerpts from Wikipedia)
El Primero and the revolutionary 5Hz calibre
Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 is powered by the El Primero 400 Automatic. The movement is the modern descendent of the original El Primero movement. It brings the experience gathered by the brand in the last half of the century.
The column-wheel chronograph movement is generously displayed. The blued finish makes it stand out. The movement is nicely decorated: sandblasted surfaces, brushing, perlage, Geneva waves, polishing and thermal blueing. The entire mechanism in action can be seen in the hands-on video.
The skeletonised rotor-weight is decorated with the brand’s name and logo with black accents. The 5Hz movement is capable of 50 hours of power reserve. More pictures can be found in the Gallery section below.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 is a strong appearance. It stands out with its original design and clear vintage look. The design code left deep marks in the hearth of enthusiasts. Zenith’s decision to revive this model was well received. Having such a historical model with a modern hearth and attractive price is not a small thing. Of course, the purists will search and argue for the original model. But I am more than happy with this modern version.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 is a mix of its sobriety and fun. Just like 1969, the year of its initial launch. Black and white and a touch of red versus war (Cold war, Vietnam) and Woodstock. El Primero was a revolutionary step in watchmaking, just like the Concorde and Boeing 747 were…
El Primero A384 was launched in full pop art era. Its revival was born 50 years later and the art evolved too. Now we have digital art and thing people couldn’t even imagine in the ’60s and ’70s. But Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 remains an exceptional creation and a nice piece to have.
Her thoughts and feeling
At the first look, it doesn’t seem like much. But on the wrist, it reveals its true personality. It is a tool watch, a very useful one on a daily basis. Despite that, it is a lovely appearance that handles easily the needs of casual occasions.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384 Technical Specifications and Price
UNIQUE SELLING POINTS
- Original Revival of the 1969 Reference A384
- Original 1969 case with 37 mm diameter
- Automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph
- Movement: El Primero 400 Automatic
- Calibre: 13¼“` (Diameter: 30 mm)
- Movement thickness: 6.6 mm
- Components: 278
- Jewels: 31
- Frequency: 36,000 VpH (5 Hz)
- Power-reserve.: min. 50 hours
- Finishes: Oscillating weight with “Côtes de Genève” motif
- Hours and minutes in the centre
- Small seconds at 9 o’clock
- Central chronograph hand
- 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock
- 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock
- Tachymetric scale
- Date indication at 4:30
CASE, DIAL & HANDS
- Diameter: 37 mm
- Diameter opening: 32.3 mm
- Thickness: 12.60 mm
- Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
- Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal
- Material: Stainless steel
- Water-resistance: 10 ATM
- Dial: White-lacquered dial with black-coloured counters
- Hour-markers: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova®SLN C3
- Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova®SLN C3
STRAPS & BUCKLES
- Strap: Comes in a black alligator strap or ladder bracelet
- Buckle: Stainless steel pin buckle
- 7.900,00 CHF / 7.800,00 €