The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385 is a faithful reproduction of one of the original three stainless steel El Primero models from 1969, which featured Zenith’s first gradient dial in a smoked brown tone and pronounced vignette effect that darkens towards the edges.
Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385
The Case and Dial
The new Zenith A385 revival is sized in the original 37 mm size and has a beautifully crafted case. Contrasting polished chamfered edge outlines the case, which curves symmetrically peaking at the center. Strong bold lines and sharp break edges in case design were synonymous with 70’s watch cases.
Grand Seiko re-marketed the concept with their branded ‘Grammar of Design’ – think 44GS and 62Gs. Zenith’s A385 has elements of the same design era but the revival piece shows greater quality in finishing and manufacturing.
Complete with the pump pushers and a replica of the original ladder bracelet, the A385 is as close as it gets to the original.
The dial features a fume brown base with contrasting white subdials. The fumè brown dial is somewhat reminiscent of vintage tropical dials and works particularly well with the vintage style ladder bracelet. Applied hour markers are filled with superluminova as with the hands. A central red seconds hand with a rectangular luminous well is the cherry on the cake.
Another benefit of the revival edition, apart from modern manufacturing and reliability, is the open caseback. The domed sapphire front with double sided anti-reflective gives the watch dial clarity and scratch resistance that the old hesalite did not.
Possibly the best looking automatic chronograph movement ever made – the El Primero is the essence of the Manufacture. The lateral clutch system reveals the gears beneath the rotor, actuated by a column wheel. The movement has a power reserve of 50 hours and has a high beat frequency of 36000 vph.
Unlike Omega’s Speedmaster 1861 or 3861 movement which uses the easier to produce cam-lever actuation mechanism, the El Primero uses a considerably more ‘premium’ column wheel mechanism. The benefits of the column wheel include more precise ‘start-stop’ actuation, and more importantly, looks and feels better.
The new Zenith A385 revival is a good looking timepiece with exceptional vintage pedigree and history. The dial is very well executed and the watch has a great movement to back it up. It is priced at US$7900 and US$8300 for the leather strap and bracelet models respectively. This variant dial color gives customers more choices and a unique look that’s iconic to Zenith.
While there are alternatives around this price range, the El Primero stands out among its competition. A historically accurate horizontal clutch chronograph, with column wheel, high beat, nicely balanced case and all round iconic design; it’s hard to beat.