The El Primero chronograph calibre is at the centre of many a legendary sports watch, some of which even have the Zenith name on the front. It’s a racing calibre by birth and the high-frequency movement has been tearing along since 1969. Which, let’s be honest, means it could use an update. Hence, Zenith’s new Chronomaster Sport collection.
At the centre of the new collection is the El Primero 3600. It’s been used in a few limited editions in the past, including the 50th anniversary piece, but this marks the first time it’s been used in the regular collections – and a possible prelude to it inching out the original, watch by watch. Given it’s a dramatic upgrade, that’s not a bad thing.
The chronograph is driven directly off the silicon escape wheel, which means that it can measure 1/10th of a second increments. It’s an impressive feat for any chrono, more so one that’s now in regular production.
Then there’s the new 41mm stainless steel case which has already been nicknamed the Zenith Daytona. You can see why: a trio of subdials with a contrasting bezel. Even the hands are similar. That’s all a bit unfair though – and a bit unimaginative.
The subdials are laid out completely differently to the Daytona and looks-wise the overlapping, differently-coloured counters make for a substantially different style. The pump pushers here have a more vintage feel and it has no crown guard, making for a slightly more elegant overall design. Would I buy one instead? No, but that’s simply because flipping a Daytona is basically free money.
More importantly perhaps, all the design touches are rooted in the history of the chronograph. The subdials are taken from the 1969 El Primero A386 (which Zenith recently revived) and the overall look was taken from the De Luca of the 1980s. In short, yes there are some cursory resemblances to the Daytona, but the Chronomaster Sport has the heritage to show it’s very much its own entity.
There are two versions of the new Chronomaster: one with a white dial and one with a black, both with a black ceramic bezel. Both are available on a rubber strap or stainless steel bracelet. Of the pair, the obvious winner is the white dial, though honestly the more I look at the black the more I find myself considering it. I’ll have to let you know for sure once I’ve tried both of them on.
Stay tuned for that.
Price & Specs:
Model: Zenith Chronomaster Sport
Ref: 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 (white matte dial, stainless steel bracelet)
03.3100.3600/69.C822 (white matte dial, blue rubber bracelet with Cordura effect)
03.3100.3600/21.M3100 (black lacquered dial, stainless steel bracelet)
03.3100.3600/21.C823 (black lacquered dial with black rubber bracelet with Cordura effect)
Case/Dial: 41mm diameter, stainless steel, black polished ceramic bezel
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: In-house El Primero 3600 calibre, automatic, 35 jewels
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Power Reserve: 60h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, central chronograph, 60 minute counter at 6 o’clock, 60 second counter at 3 o’clock
Strap: Stainless steel bracelet or blue rubber bracelet with Cordura effect or black rubber bracelet with Cordura effect
Price/Availability: £7,900 (rubber strap) and £8,300 (stainless steel bracelet)
More details at Zenith.