The Zenith Chronomaster collection has already seen a couple of stunning new timepieces added in 2021 in the form of the Chronomaster Sport and Chronomaster Sport Rose Gold, both inspired by the first steel timepiece from Zenith to house the legendary El Primero movement, the A386. Something that has been missing from the range though is a genuine heritage tribute piece that accurately captures its style, or at least that was the case until Zenith announced the new Chronomaster Original.
The new piece has a stainless steel case measuring 38mm in diameter, harking back to the A386’s vintage dimensions and providing a slimmer alternative to the modern Sport’s 41mm. The vintage inspiration is also displayed by the lack of a rotating bezel and the use of a raised, domed crystal. As a sucker for vintage design, I really like the case, which is rounded out by the chunky, pump-style pushers and fluted crown.
But wait, you might be thinking this sounds strangely familiar and you wouldn’t be wrong – Zenith have already released a heritage tribute to the A386 that sported this same case. Where this new piece differs from the revival model is the updated dial and movement.
Speaking of the dial, it drifts from vintage accuracy – while the tri-colour, tricompax layout may look identical to the A386 with a cursory glance, up close you’ll notice some differences. The tachymeter scale around the circumference has been swapped out for a 1/10th of a second chronograph scale, matched by the inner black scale. The reason for this change is to show off the technical innovations of the updated El Primero movement and for the same reason the red chronograph hand has been adjusted from a broad paddle shape to a thin line, which allows for greater precision.
In addition to the (mostly) heritage dial there is an alternative on offer as well, eschewing the light grey, dark grey and blue subdials in favour of a reverse panda, re-colouring the entire dial black with white subdials. A third variation takes the heritage version of the dial and puts it in a more luxurious gold case, as opposed to the other two in steel.
Regardless of case and dial choices, the movement inside is the same: the El Primero 3600 automatic chronograph calibre, Zenith’s most advanced version of the legendary movement. At this point we’ve seen this calibre plenty of times and there are no changes here. It has a high frequency, at 5Hz, in addition to an impressive 60-hour power reserve and, as the dial indicates, it can time up to 1/10th of a second. It’s a great movement and I’m glad it hasn’t been affected by the reduction in case size.
Fundamentally, the Chronomaster Original is more or less the same as the modern Chronomasters we’ve come to love, simply reimagined in a vintage style with vintage proportions. For the full vintage look you can choose to pair it with a leather strap, or you can opt for a modern steel bracelet. Price wise, it’s £7,100 for steel on strap, £7,500 for steel on bracelet or £16,000 for the gold version, which begs the question why you’d ever choose the gold when the steel is not only more stylish but also vastly more accessible.
Price & Specs:
Model: Zenith Chronomaster Original
Reference: 03.3200.3600/69.M3200 (stainless steel case, silver dial, stainless steel bracelet)
03.3200.3600/69.C902 (stainless steel case, silver dial, blue calfskin strap)
03.3200.3600/21.M3200 (stainless steel, matt black dial, stainless steel bracelet)
03.3200.3600/21.C903 (stainless steel, matt black dial, beige calfskin strap)
18.3200.3600/69.C901 (18ct rose gold, silver dial, brown calfskin strap)
Case/Dial: 38mm diameter, stainless steel or 18ct rose gold, silver or matt black dial with three-coloured sub dials
Water resistance: 50m (5 bar)
Movement: El Primero 3600 calibre, automatic, 35 jewels
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz)
Power Reserve: 60h
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds at nine o’clock, central chronograph hand that makes one
turn in 10 seconds, 60 minute counter at six o’clock, 60 second counter at three o’clock, date
Strap: Calfskin leather or stainless steel bracelet
Price/Availability: £7,100 / CHF 8,400 / $8,400 (stainless steel/blue or beige calfskin strap)
£7,500 / CHF 8,900 / $9,000 (stainless steel/stainless steel bracelet)
£16,000 / CHF 18,900 / $19,100 (rose gold/brown calfskin strap)
More details at Zenith Watches.