The Great Escape: Presenting the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition
The release of the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition almost reads like a Hollywood script. It’s got all the ingredients for a crowd-pleasing blockbuster.
Group Captain Ramsey in the movie The Great Escape says, “Colonel Von Luger, it is the sworn duty of all officers to try to escape. If they cannot escape, then it is their sworn duty to cause the enemy to use an inordinate number of troops to guard them, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability.”
As the dramatic entrance made by the quartz crisis in 1970s got its grip around Zenith, narrowly escaping that was a prototype watch. We all know the story of Charles Vermot and its importance to the brand. Lots of watches or prototypes from the quartz crisis era had been presumed lost or missing for Zenith. And just like the recently discovered and introduced Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”, there is another watch that the brand has found. Recently discovered by the brand’s team hidden inside the famed secret walled-off attic where Charles Vermot had once hidden all the plans and parts necessary to produce the El Primero movement is the blueprint for the latest release, the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition.
To reinterpret the quotation above, ‘it has become the sworn duty of all Zenith team members and lovers to try to find the watches that escaped. Back in the day if these watches could not escape, then it was their sworn duty to cause the quartz enemy to use an inordinate number of releases to counter the horological feat of Zenith watches, and their sworn duty to harass the enemy to the best of their ability by releasing editions that are as cool as the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition.
We have said this in our earlier articles on the brand, but we believe that Zenith is going through a resurrection. 2019 was a banner year as 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 has been hitting it out of the park this year, with back to back great releases, whether be the introduction of a new collection (DEFY Midnight), expanding of an existing collection (Elite), and re-issues of vintage icons (Revival A384). Add to this mix the new El Primero A3818 Revival and the aforementioned Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”, and what you get is a really cool lineup of watches.
The Great Escape
Following hot on the heels of all these releases is the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition, that quite like the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” release, is surrounded in a fair bit of mystery and hype of its own.
In this new release Zenith uncovers a never-before-seen prototype dial of its most iconic chronograph, hidden inside a small, unassuming and unlabelled box found in the Attic of the Manufacture. Featuring the signature El Primero tri-colour dial look of the A386, this prototype made use of three different shades of blue. Using the blueprints of the original, the new watches are produced as ‘Revival’ pieces, and offered in a 38mm stainless steel case with pump-style pushers and faceted lugs in an exact reproduction of the A386 from 1969. Even the movement, the high-frequency automatic chronograph with column wheel calibre El Primero 400 has been retained.
Watch Ya Gonna Do About It
We like a fair few things about this release and for our buck, if we had to choose between one of Zenith’s recent releases, we would definitely go for this one. Featuring an awesome dial, cool movement, and above all a kick-ass backstory, and a fairly competitive price for all of that (12’900 AUD), it really is a wonder of a release.
Like all of their recent “revival” models, the new release features an exceptional in-house developed and manufactured movement that’s cut from the same cloth as the first automatic chronograph, the El Primero.
The reference 03.Z386.400/60.C843 features the calibre El Primero 400 which is a self-winding automatic movement with column-wheel chronograph 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, and a peripheral tachymetric scale. Additionally, like the recent El Primero A384 and A3818 Revival models, this new watch features a date aperture at 4:30.
The movement is cased inside a 38mm diameter stainless steel case with a water-resistance of 50m (5 ATM). This case frames the beautiful white-lacquered dial with three shades of blue concentric-circled counters. These three shades of overlapping blues on the sub-dials are simply mesmerising. Legibility is further enhanced by the use of faceted rhodium-plated and Super-luminova® SLN C1 coated indices along with white faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova®SLN C1 hands.
The watch package is completed by a blue alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining and a stainless steel pin buckle.
The Last Samurai
There’s good news for Zenith fans on both sides of the spectrum – on one side, for all of those who were hoping for a non-limited version after last year’s limited edition releases, this is the good news. Last year on El Primero’s 50th birthday, Zenith released a commemorative limited edition — 50 pieces each — trio of El Primero A386 Revival pieces in white, rose, and yellow gold. These watches are being offered in steel and will not be limited edition, just available on-line and at the manufacture only.
On the other end of the spectrum, anyone that feels that the brand has been slightly overstepping and releasing a plethora of ‘Revival’ cases, this is the last one. To put this into perspective, in terms of overall ‘Revival’ family, Zenith currently offers 4 other Revival options: Chronomaster Revival A3818 ‘Cover Girl’, Chronomaster Revival Shadow, Chronomaster Revival El Primero 384, and the El Primero Revival A384 Edge of Space Limited Edition in partnership with Bamford watches and MR PORTER. The last one is the second collaboration after 2019’s Solar Blue. Making this edition more significant is that it will be the final version of the A386 available with the original “Revival” case.
Covid-19 has forced brands to adapt and evolve. Typically being a manufacture edition, the new watch would have only been available to clients at the Zenith Manufacture in Le Locle, but now owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition will be exclusively available on the brand’s newly launched e-commerce platform.
We are pleased to note that the brand is willing to change with changing times, offering its new blue sub-dialled release online to chase some enthusiast’s blues away.
We also appreciate that the watch is being presented in a special packaging. The box has been intentionally designed to mimic a book that can be displayed on a bookshelf and bears a blueprint of the Zenith manufacture on its cover. The overall packaging will also include a comic book about Charles Vermot by renowned Swiss cartoonist Cosey, as well as a reproduction of the vintage dial found in the attic. It’s always good, especially for collectors, when exclusive watches are made available in interesting and unique formats. I for one would be very interested to look at the reproduction of the vintage dial found in the attic.
Blue and sexy, and oozing oodles of charm and masculinity, this latest release is another feature in the chequered brand’s cap. If finances allow, to help you plan your own Great Escape from the monotony of similar looking chronographs, here’s the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition.
For more information on this Revival Manufacture Edition and other Zenith watches, please head to their website here.