Review: the new Zenith Chronomaster Original with Black Tricolour Dial

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Ever wondered what is the ideal Chronograph watch that you can share with your partner whose not into watches while satisfying the purist in you? Enter the latest iteration of Zenith Chronomaster Original with the sleek black tricolour dial.

“Wow! May I wear it for the weekend?” That’s what she said! Eventually, the Zenith was taken away from me. Well, here’s our input of it after having it on the wrist of both my girlfriend and I.

Review: new Zenith Chronomaster Original with Black Tricolour Dial

The Zenith Chronomaster Original with Black Tricolour Dial with calfskin strap is set for a retail price of SGD 14,000 (as reviewed) while the one with metal bracelet retails for SGD 14,800. Prices are inclusive of GST.

First Impression/The Case

When the Chief Editor passed me the watch, it reminded me of the first luxury watch that I was lusting after when I first started working. It was the Zenith El Primero 410 Singapore Edition, in Blue. I was smitten but too broke to afford it. Now, I can relive my dream with the latest iteration of the Zenith Choronomaster Original with Black Tricolour Dial. As I don it on my wrist, that magical feeling reignited, it’s as if I’ve gotten back to my first love that has gotten away but this time round, she’s became more attractive but simpler while complimented with a strong history of the Zenith’s A386.

Perfect on her wrist, as it is on mine.

Apart from the emotions that I had, this is another watch that we would recommend as a couple sharing watch. Following up last week’s post on Furlan Marri, should a collector like to move on from a quartz piece to the history filled El Primero movement, look no further than the Zenith Chronomaster Original. The 38mm round bezel-less steel case with raised sapphire domed crystal is big enough to command sufficient presence on my 6.25 inch wrist but also small enough to accommodate my girlfriend’s 5.75 inch wrist without it looking vulgar.

The gorgeous pump-style chronograph pushes, faceted lug along with the mix of radial brushed and polished surfaces makes the watch indistinguishable between the A386 and the current Chronomaster Original making it an iconic statement piece that’s easily identifiable.

The Dial

The Chronomaster Original now reinterprets the iconic tricolour dial in black, a first for this case style since 1969. This tricolour variant is one that collectors should go for as it makes the dial more intriguing with an array of colours such as the central red chronograph second hand and the tricolour counters that makes the black dial more dramatic.

The team at Zenith were not sloppy with the introduction of the new black dial. They ensured that other elements on the dial was inverted from white to black and vice-versa, including the date wheel in the trapezoid window at 04:30, as well as the 1/10th of a second and 10-second chronograph scales.

With the above being said, we felt that the attention to details is amazing and cannot help staring at it while getting lost in the beauty of the dial. Admittedly, we find the array of colours mutually complimenting and intriguing at the same time. It constantly made us wonder how does one make 6 colours get along so well without it being jarring to the eye.

The Movement

Rolex once had the El Primero movement cased in their Daytona 16520 for more than a decade prior to going in-house. This shows that the El Primero movement is certainly attested even by the well revered Rolex. In the case of the Chronomaster Original, it features the iconic El Primero 3600 movement that beats at 36,000Vph which then enables the 1/10 of a second chronograph indication.

The sapphire display back provides an unobstructed view of the movement revealing a blue column wheel and open rotor marked with the five-pointed star Zenith.

The Chronomaster Original’s central red chronograph second hand completes one rotation of the dial in 10 seconds, a resolution which is easier to make a measurement than the classical 60 seconds. This is a feature that from our knowledge is rarely available for watches within this price range. On top of having a high-beat movement that enables the above features, the El Primero 3600 movement has a very weekend proof 60 hours power reserve, regular readers of my article would know that the “weekend proof” power reserve is one of my pet peeve.

Above all, the El Primero movement is also vaunted as the world’s first automatic chronograph movement which the word “El Primero” literally translates as “The First” in Latin. That alone is already one of the biggest selling point of this amazing movement.

The Strap

The Zenith El Primero as reviewed is on a calfskin leather with folding clasp, there is a variant in steel bracelet with polished centre links. The bracelet has been redesigned, replacing the open “ladder” design of 1969 with solid links.

Personally, we prefer the calf skin as it gives the Chronomaster Original a more vintage vibe while looking less chunky.

As much as we like the watch and strap combo, if we would have to nitpick, it would be that the watch does not have a quick release for easy change of strap. The watch seems like strap monster where it would look great in a variety of different straps in various colours to match our clothes.


There are several watches that are like the El Primero that is history filled while staying relevant in the current times. Furthermore, the considerations for the comparisons also the possibility to share watch with our significant others.

First up, it is the Omega Speedmaster Professional where just like the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Original, it is a heritage filled icon where it is also affectionately known as the Moonwatch. (literally almost typed MoonSwatch instead… I guess Swatch really did a good marketing campaign for it!) The Moonwatch now comes with the updated 3861 movement that is very similar in terms of architecture to it’s iconic 321 movement. Finally, due to the recent hype from the MoonSwatch, we seen more individuals of the fairer gender rocking one partly due to the extremely friendly lug to lug dimension.

Second candidate for comparison is the Rolex Daytona Ref 126500LN. Just as we were mentioning that one of the previous generation features the El Primero movement, won’t it be a pity that we miss out on it? Just like the aforementioned watches, the Rolex Daytona is an icon in the watch world where it is deem the dream watch for many as it is still very much unattainable for most of us from the ADs.

Image courtesy of

Other than the jarring fact that it is an almost unattainable status symbol, the Daytona is donned on the wrist of many iconic individuals from Paul Newman to the gorgeous Rosie Huntington-Whiteley. The Daytona is a reference to the famed 24 Hours of Daytona endurance race since 1962 where Rolex is the current sponsor for the iconic race where the race winner will receive… You guessed it! A Rolex Daytona.

Concluding thoughts

We felt that the Zenith Chronomaster Original is a watch that one should seriously consider getting. It will certainly make a great first watch for a collector starting out on their collection due to the heritage and the amazing high-beat movement. The proportion of the watch certainly enables one to wear it for any occasion from a black tie event right down to getting satay from Newton Hawker Centre.

Finally, for the bros out there with a strict CFO… Here’s a reason why you should get it and we have even gotten the excuse for you (You’re welcome, it’s our pleasure) “Baby, here’s a watch that we can finally share! It certainly look better on your wrist than mine!”


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