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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

This summer Zenith launched the Chronomaster Original, the successor of their iconic Zenith A386. On one of those sunny days of the Swiss spring, we had the chance to preview the watches at a lovely Zurich terrace. 

The Zenith A386 made its debut in 1969 as one of the first steel watches to be equipped with the revolutionary El Primero calibre – the world’s first automatic high-frequency integrated chronograph movement. Today the El Primero is still the benchmark of precision among automatic chronograph movements.

Zenith celebrated the 50th anniversary of the El Primero in 2019 with a limited re-edition of the A386 watch. The three old-new versions shine in the same original design and with the El Primero 3019 PHC (400) calibre inside but in three different golds (the original was steel). All of them are limited to 50 pieces each. We tested the pink gold version in the Viennese summer – discover more here

In the same year – as part of the celebration – Zenith co-created together with Phillips Watches a platinum version with lapis-lazuli dial. The unique A386 reference made in conjunction with the expert team of the auction house. Aurel Bacs (auctioneer and exclusive watch consultant) and Alexandre Ghotbi (Head of Watches for Europe and Middle East) worked with Zenith’s creative and product development team to come up with an A386 version that stands out from the set produced thus far. 

Zenith Chronomaster Original

In June 2021 Zenith presented the successor of the A386, the Chronomaster Original finally in live – beautiful view, perfect weather and great timepieces welcomed us on the terrace of the Le Bijou at the Limmatquai in Zurich. The new Chronomaster preserves the enduringly relevant design of the A386 with the 21st century version of the El Primero calibre inside. With its high frequency of 5 Hz (36’000 VpH), the movement is able to precisely offer a true 1/10th of second indication.

Zurich view
Zurich view from the top of the Le Bijou

Apart from the signature steel with tri-colour dial configuration, the Chronomaster Original is available in two other versions: a steel case with a “reverse panda” black dial with silver chronograph registers, and an 18k rose gold version with the tri-colour dial.

The Chronomaster has 38mm round bezel-less steel case with a raised and domed crystal, pump-style chronograph pushers, faceted lugs and the mix of radial brushed and polished surfaces throughout the watch. The stainless steel bracelet has solid links that are chamfered and decorated in the same fashion as the case. There are also leather straps to complete the look of the timepieces.

Zenith Chronomaster Original
Zenith Chronomaster Original, steel, black dial
Zenith Chronomaster Original
Zenith Chronomaster Original, movement side
Zenith Chronomaster Original
Zenith Chronomaster Original, steel, black dial

The dials of these watches are really distinctive – the tri-colour chronograph registers in shades of grey and blue, the slightly trapezoid date window at 04:30 and the red chronograph second hand. The black inner scale surrounding the dial has a new purpose in the Chronomaster Original, with its 1/10th of a second chronograph hand making a rotation around the dial in 10 seconds, totalling 100 measurable time units. Substituting the tachymeter scale on the outer circumference on the dial, a 1/10th of a second chronograph scale takes its place, allowing for the measurement and reading of elapsed time in precise fractions of a second. For reading the 10th of a second, the paddle-shaped seconds hand of the original A386 has been replaced with a straight, red-lacquered hand.

Zenith Chronomaster Original
Zenith Chronomaster Original, rose gold version with the tri-colour dial.

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