Since the El Primero Calibre 3600 became a staple of Zenith’s Chronomaster collection last year they’ve slowly been updating and revamping various versions of the timepiece to include the modern movement. Now it’s the turn of the open heart model known imaginatively as the Zenith Chronomaster Open.
Compared with the pre-existing Open edition, the case of the new watch has been reduced in size down to 40mm as opposed to 42mm. It reflects the recent upswing in the popularity among collectors for retro styles, which tend to favour smaller sizes. As part of the downsize, the edge has a more pronounced bevel, giving the piece a more angular appeal. The case is available in stainless steel or rose gold and if precious metal is your preferred material, you’re in luck because Zenith have also announced a series of Chronomaster Sports in gold as well.
However, it’s the dial which is the focal point of the revamped Chronomaster Open collection. Unlike the previous open model it now features the signature tri-colour subdials that are a reference to the original A386. It’s cool that the tone of the steel visible through the open heart aperture at 3 o’clock matches the typical light grey of the small seconds subdial. On steel the main dial can be black or white but in rose gold it’s only available in white.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that the small seconds subdial is still present on the new watch as it was simply removed on the previous Open version. In order to facilitate this, the open heart aperture is covered with a hesalite crystal that forms the base of the small seconds. Meaning that you can see the star-shaped escape wheel through it without compromising on the chronograph’s base functionality. In addition to these changes, the window no longer has a metallic border, giving it better integration into the overall display.
It now houses the calibre El Primero 3600, although it has been adjusted specifically for the open worked aspect of the design. So, technically it’s called the El Primero 3604 but in terms of specs there’s no difference. A 1/10th of a second chronograph function with a central chronograph hand, small seconds, a 60-minute counter and a 60-second counter. Plus, the 60-hour power reserve is great.
My only issue with this watch is I’m not sure that it’s necessary within the Chronomaster range (I’m slightly less zealous about it than our editor, who would say it’s not necessary ever). I feel like an open heart is a feature that inherently works better on complications like a tourbillon and isn’t a natural fit for a chronograph. That being said, it does give us a glimpse of the El Primero below and that’s always welcome. As for price the steel models are £8,300 and in gold it’s £17,800.
Price & Specs:
Model: Zenith Chronomaster Open
Reference: 03.3300.3604/21.M3300 (stainless steel case, black matte dial, metal bracelet)
03.3300.3604/69.M3300 (stainless steel case, silver matte dial, metal bracelet)
18.3300.3604/69.C922 (18k rose gold case, silver matte dial, blue calfskin leather)
Case/dial: 40mm diameter, stainless steel or 18k rose gold case, matter black or silver dial
Water resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: El Primero 3604 automatic, automatic column-wheel chronograph (able to measure and display 1/10th of a second), 35 jewels
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 60h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, central chronograph hand that makes one turn in 10 seconds, 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, 60-second counter at 3 o’clock
Strap: Metal bracelet or blue calfskin leather
Price/availability: £8,300 (stainless steel editions) and £17,800 (19k rose gold editions)
More details at Zenith.