New watch release, the Zenith El Primero A384 Revival

New watch release, the Zenith El Primero A384 Revival

Zenith at the inaugural edition of the LVMH Watch Week in Dubai earlier this year, released a number of watches such as the DEFY Midnight and the revamped Elite collection among others. At this event they also introduced the watch we are looking at today, the new El Primero A384 Revival watch.

2019 was a banner year for Zenith. It marked the 50th anniversary of their famed El Primero movement. In honour of that, the brand released a fair number of limited edition iterations. Continuing this into 2020, Zenith is now introducing the non-limited version of the El primero A384, a watch series that ran from 1969 to 1971 only. 

Retro-mania

Nostalgia seems to be the driver of the current wave of new releases by watch companies, at least the LVMH Group.

TAG Heuer last year released their 50th anniversary Monaco 1969-79 that really embodied the magic that was the 70s with its colour language. And now Zenith, another LVMH member, releases this new El Primero watch, whose case design and visual aesthetics should appeal to anyone looking for a dose of retro vibes.

A lot of things are exciting about this watch release: it’s got a great pedigree, amazing movement, classic looks, non-regular (non-circular) dial, a burst of red in the middle of the dial, a famed bracelet designed by a famous bracelet designer, and the legacy that has been in the making for 51 years.

Cut from a different cloth

A bit of history before we delve into the current model. 

There were three aspects that set the original watch apart.

One, the heart inside the machine. There are not many movements in the watchmaking industry that are known to most watch enthusiasts. El Primero is one such movement. A384 was the first model to be equipped with this groundbreaking movement when it was first launched in 1969.

Two, a bold and new, almost daring case design, in the form of an angular tonneau case. 

Three, the bracelet. Not many bracket makers are famous in the world. Gay Frères is an exception. Zenith used his expertise to create an original and exclusive bracelet — the “ladder” bracelet — that not only complimented the new case design but also featured a new — unusual for the times — open design that boasted superior comfort and a dressier look. In short, it was a classic three-link bracelet design but with gaps in the middle that give it a ‘ladder’ look.

All this set the original Zenith A384 apart.

Zenith El Primero A384 Revival
Image courtesy ©Zenith

Suggestions 

We wish it was a bit more at home with one dedicated purpose. It doesn’t fit the language of a traditional dress watch and while it’s meant to be a sports watch it only has 50m water resistance. In our opinion it should have been resistant up-to 100m or more. 

Also, the end links of the bracelet just don’t align with the lugs. When it comes to the bracelet width and lug width, there is a lack of coherency in style and texture (lugs are polished whereas the end links are brushed). 

Regardless, we acknowledge that the watch is nonetheless still a Zenith watch with a very trustworthy movement. There are five aspects we really dig about this new release.

What we do love about the new A384 Revival

The Dial

The panda dial with a white lacquered face and black-coloured sub-dials that feature concentric circles is a thing of beauty.

It’s clean, offers great legibility, and visually is one of the most striking chronograph dials out there. 

Zenith El Primero A384 Revival
Image courtesy ©Zenith

Legibility

We love the angular date window and the rectangular feature of the seconds hand in red that is without the usual Zenith star.

Both hour markers and hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova®SLN C3 for added legibility.

These are small details, but on an uncluttered dial such as this, really stand out.

The Size

It is a relatively small 37mm, especially if you look at the present day watch trend of oversized watches (including Zenith’s own 45mm Pilot’s watches).

But this smaller size is a bonus given not many new small sized chronographs are available in the market today. It is not just the diameter, but also the thickness of only 12.6mm that is a bonus here.

This opens up the retail market for Zenith as it is a section of the industry that is often overlooked, but people with small wrist sizes, and women, could really appreciate this. 

The Movement

The new watch uses the Zenith calibre El Primero 400 which is a self-winding automatic movement with column-wheel chronograph comprising of 278 parts and beating at the frequency of 5Hz (36’000 A/h) allowing for a decent (min.) 50 hour power reserve.

The movement helps with depicting the following functions: hours and minutes in the centre, small seconds at 9’o clock, a central chronograph hand, a 12-hour counter at 6’o clock, a 30-minute counter at 3’o clock, a tachymetric scale and a date indication at 4:30. 

Originality

Last but not least is the integrity of keeping this revival exactly like its original.

I appreciate that Zenith has made efforts to keep this one as identical to the 1969 version as possible.

This is something which is very important to collectors, and am sure will be appreciated.

This reminds us of the disappointment TAG Heuer fans expressed in forums on finding out that the 50th anniversary Monaco didn’t feature the originals’s piston pushers. Zenith has avoided that pitfall and retained the cushion-shaped case that looks like a monolith from the industrial age, and compliments the piston pushers.

Zenith El Primero A384 Revival
Image courtesy ©Zenith

Watch Ya Gonna Do About It? 

The Zenith El Primero A384 Revival reference 03.A384.400/21.M384 comes in a new 37mm brushed & polished stainless steel case and costs 8’400 CHF.

At this price-point and size, Zenith has presented a good looking utility watch that can also transform into a sports watch.

While the recently released DEFY Midnight collection is celestial inspired, the Elite collection is more of a traditional dress watch, the Pilot Type 20 Rescue is more of a masculine and rugged watch, the new A384 Revival is a visually bold design that can be seen from a distance, and the red seconds hand is a great touch.

It is very much from the era it belonged, and as much as I am not in favour of every second watch release being a limited edition, this one should have been to make it more exclusive.

That said, Zenith has given the option to everybody to buy one, rather than releasing it just for the collectors.

If we were to pick a chronograph watch and say this is the perfect watch for anyone with small wrists, we would highly recommend the new Zenith El Primero A384 Revival.

For more information of these watches and other Zenith watches, head to their website here