Zenith has reintroduced its legendary A386 as the Chronomaster Original, giving it its place in the collection. The original Zenith A386 was one of the first stainless steel watches to feature an El Primero movement. This is the first automatic chronograph movement to use a high frequency of 5 Hz. Zenith has reinterpreted this watch for 2019, but it is only available in precious metals. However, now we have a range of steel shells. The new Zenith Chronomaster Original is available in three versions that differ in dial, case material, strap and bracelet.
History of Zenith El Primero A386Although automatic movements have become increasingly popular since 1940, no watch manufacturer has yet successfully developed a self-winding chronograph. In 1962, Zenith took over the task. However, the innovative movement was made to meet more specifications. It had to be able to measure tenths of a second to be the most precise automatic chronograph of its time. For this, the frequency of the balance must be 5 Hz, which leads to other difficulties. Nonetheless, Zenith succeeded in creating such a movement, which has since been named El Primero - meaning "the first", of course. The Zenith El Primero A386 became the first watch to be equipped with this special movement.
Cases and MaterialsZenith Chronomaster Original Stainless SteelIn terms of case design, Zenith follows almost exactly the lines of the original. Therefore, this watch has a stainless steel case with a diameter of 38 mm and no bezel. Pump push rods and faceted lugs complement this.
Meanwhile, a raised domed sapphire crystal protects the front. Unlike the Zenith A386, the brand opted for a visible caseback, revealing the mechanics inside. Last but not least, the El Primero Chronomaster Original is water resistant to 50 m.
Zenith Chronomaster Original GoldThe piece also joins two stainless steel versions, which come with a case made of 18-karat rose gold. The case here is also 38mm in diameter. However, aside from the materials, this case is no different from the other two. For this model, however, Zenith gave it a slightly different dial.
dialThe three versions also come with three different dials. The white dial is the most authentic as it presents the counter in shades of grey and blue. There are also black inner graduations around the dial, dividing the dial into 100 time units. Likewise, the white scale for tenths of a second allows elapsed time to be read in fractions of a second. For this reason, Zenith decided to ditch the A386's blade-shaped chronograph hands in favor of straight red hands.
The second variant has a "reverse panda" dial without the coloured chronograph counters and instead has a black and white look. Contrary to the above changes, the keystone date window at 4:30 also remains black. The hour-markers and main hands are coated with beige Super-LumiNova, while the chronograph hands shine in white.
Chronomaster Original's gold case dial with colorful counters on a white background. The index and main hands are different; here, they are gold-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova. The hands of the sub-dial also appear in the same shade. Interestingly, the chronograph hands are still red, while the date window between 4 and 5 o'clock is white.
sportsWhile the exterior of the watch is inspired by the historic A386, the interior is equipped with a modern El Primero 3600 movement, which of course offers a high frequency of 5 Hz, enabling measurements to be accurate to a tenth of a second. The manufacturer doesn’t skimp on technology either, and uses a blue column wheel to control the chronograph. It also has a power reserve of 60 hours. The movement is visible through the caseback, through which the winding rotor with the Zentraedi star is directly visible.
The Chronomaster Original white dial is available on a stainless steel bracelet with a double-folding clasp or a blue calfskin strap with a tri-folding clasp. Likewise, the "Reverse Panda" version comes with the same stainless steel bracelet or beige calfskin strap. Meanwhile, the rose gold case is only available with a brown calfskin strap and a rose gold tri-fold clasp.
BRAND ZenithMODEL Chronomaster OriginalREFERENCE White dial:03.3200.3600/69.M320003.3200.3600/69.C902Black dial:03.3200.3600/21.M320003.3200.3600/21.C903Gold case:18.3200.3600/69.C901CASE MATERIAL Stainless steel or 18 carat rose goldDIMENSIONS Diameter: 38 mmHeight: 12.60 mmWATER RESISTANCE 5 bar (~50 m)DIAL White with coloured counters or black with silver countersSTRAP/BRACELET Steel case:Stainless steel bracelet with stainless steel double folding clasporBlue/brown calfskin strap with stainless steel triple-folding claspGold case:Brown calfskin strap with rose gold triple-folding claspMOVEMENT El Primero 3600MOVEMENT TYPE Self-windingPOWER RESERVE 60 hoursFREQUENCY 5 Hz (36,000 vph)FUNCTIONS Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date