To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the debut of Zenith’s groundbreaking El Primero automatic chronograph, Zenith last week debuted a near replica of its El Primero A384, the first watch equipped with the caliber. The original El Primero was the first automatic chronograph unveiled publically, the only high-speed version (36,000 bph) among the three unveiled that year, and the only caliber still in production.
The new watch, called the Zenith El Primero A384 Revival, reproduces just about everything from the original watch thanks to Zenith’s "reverse engineering" approach to the project. As a result, each component has been faithfully re-created. (Read more about the history of the El Primero –including how intrepid workshop foreman Charles Vermot single-handedly saved the El Primero from the trash heap – on Zenith’s dedicated site here.)
To do this, Zenith digitized each component, from the 37mm faceted steel case to the lacquered white and black ‘panda style’ tachymeter dial to the shape of the pushers. However, Zenith did veer from this replication process when it came to the crystal, the caseback and the movement itself. That’s why on the new model, Zenith uses sapphire crystal instead an acrylic glass, a display back instead of the solid steel caseback and the latest version of the El Primero 400 chronograph movement.
The caliber, which Zenith places into several models within its current lineup, still offers a frequency of 36,000 bph with a column-wheel chronograph mechanism.
Keeping with its retro appeal, the El Primero A384 Revival comes on a black alligator leather strap, though with a modern black rubber lining. An integrated metal “ladder” bracelet option is also available, mimicking the look of the one from the original 1969 El Primero A384.
You may recall that Zenith earlier this year began celebrating the El Primero’s 50th anniversary with a series of commemorative watches. In January, Zenith debuted a vintage-inspired El Primero box set. In March at Baselworld, Zenith enhanced the celebration with an El Primero A386 Revival series in three gold alloys. But unlike those gold-cased Revival models, this steel-cased A384 Revival will not be produced as a limited edition, but as an ongoing model. Price: $7,600.