The New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385 for the LVMH Digital Watch Week 2021

The New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385 for the LVMH Digital Watch Week 2021

In a nutshell: Nostalgia seems to be the main driver behind the resurrection of the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385 and for a lot of us without bottomless-pitted incomes, this is a fantastic offering that ticks the right boxes: it’s available — so non-limited and unlike certain other steel sports watches — and it’s not expensive considering what it’s providing; it’s got a smashing dial; and it’s got a great linage and history. 

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How Does It Do

2019 was a banner year for Zenith. It marked the 50th anniversary of their famed El Primero. In honour of that, the brand released a fair number of limited edition iterations. Continuing this into 2020 Zenith further introduced the non-limited version of the El Primero A384, a watch series that originally ran from 1969 to 1971 only. Then they also added the El Primero A3818 Revival and the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” to that long list. The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385 for the LVMH Digital Watch Week takes this re-inventing journey into 2021. 

The A385 scores the most as an excellent horological package that is thankfully not a limited-edition run and doesn’t cost an arm and a leg.

At a glance it’s what we have come to expect from Zenith chronographs, and it is in this familiar comfortable architecture language that the watch speaks loud and clear owing to the gradient dial.

New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385

Why

Because 1969 was a landmark year for both Zenith and the watchmaking industry and the A385 is a great reminder of that. Because as irresistible as they may be, not all of us can afford an H. Moser & Cie fumé dial timepiece. Because according to the brand, the A385’s predecessor “was possibly the first “smoked” dial ever to be made in the watch industry and certainly the first for Zenith”. Because inside it is ticking a modern albeit the ‘El Primero’ name-bearing calibre. And because even if you ignore all the above reasons why it’s a stellar release to mark the LVMH Digital Watch Week 2021, you can’t simply deny the charm of a distinguished looking chronograph

New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385

When and Where

Monday (or rather Tuesday AEST) 25th January at the LVMH Digital Watch Week 2021. Global, non-limited edition release, retail price for the ref. 03.A384.400/385.C855 is 11’400 AUD on leather strap (or 12’200 AUD on bracelet). Contact an authorised retailer in Sydney or The Hour Glass in Melbourne

Who Is It For

Honestly, if you got a spare 12k, and you are into watches, then it’s for you. With it’s angular case and yet wearable 37mm diameter, it’s for everybody, and more importantly, given the light brown ‘smoked’ gradient-effect dial, for both the sexes as well

New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385

Basic Specs

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.

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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.

New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385

Missing

This is a personal peeve – 4.30 window apertures should be disavowed by the industry. Also, it just doesn’t seem to be at home with any one dedicated purpose. It doesn’t fit the language of a traditional dress watch. It’s meant to be a sports watch but with only 50m water resistance, it falls short

What Stands Out

A lot of things are exciting about this watch release: it’s got a great pedigree, amazing movement, classic looks, non-regular (non-circular) case, a burst of red in the middle of the gradient dial, an iconic bracelet designed by a famous bracelet designer, and the legacy that has been in the making for 52 years.

New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385

Final Bell

There were three aspects that speak the most:

  • One, the heart inside the machine. There are not many movements in the watchmaking industry that are known to most watch enthusiasts. The El Primero defies the odds
  • Two, the bold and almost daring case design — for 1960s anyhow — in the form of an angular tonneau case that is most wrists’ friendly at 37mm
  • Three, the bracelet. Again, just like the movement, not many bracelet 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
New Zenith Chronomaster Revival El Primero A385

And if by chance you are still not convinced, add the value of the historic Zenith “Operation Sky” mission that made headlines back then. In order to prove that a mechanical movement was superior to the revolutionary new  quartz movements of the time, the original “A385 was strapped to the landing gear of an Air France Boeing 707 on a flight from Paris to New York to test its resistance to external aggressions such as drastic temperature fluctuations, wind force and changing air pressure. Upon landing, the watch was still functioning perfectly”. 

This is one offering that no matter what your personal design tastes are, you simply can’t ignore it’s relevance in the world of horology. And for me, this is what makes this profession and hobby great. 

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To find out more about Zenith watches, please head to their website here. All images unless otherwise stated are ©Zenith. All rights reserved.