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Zenith - El Primero Revival A384

Zenith El Primero Revival A384

Zenith chooses New York for global unveiling of El Primero Revival A384.

Last week in New York, Zenith Watch Company celebrated the 50th anniversary of one of the most famed watch movements in the world: El Primero. It also used the occasion as the global launch of the El Primero Revival A384 watch that pays tribute to the first watch to house the El Primero movement in 1969.  That innovative El Primero movement was the world’s first automatic mechanical column-wheel chronograph with a high frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour, able to measure time intervals to an astonishing 1/10th of a second.

The new timepiece unveiled In New York is highly affordable at $7,600 and is not a limited edition (as are the other El Primero Revival watches that were unveiled earlier this year to honor the movement’s five decades in existence) so that it can be more accessible to the public. The new watch, the result of more than a year of intense research and design, is the result of a combination of studying and digitalizing the original watch, as well as discussions with eight of the members of the original El Primero team. 

According to Julien Tornare, CEO of Zenith, he met several times with eight watchmaker, product specialists and others who had worked at Zenith in the late 1960’s and who had a hand in creating the incredibly innovative El Primero movement that was, in 1969, housed in the A384 watch with integrated bracelet. 

El Primero Revival A384

© Zenith

Looking at archives and original models was one thing, but Tornare wanted more; he wanted to understand what went into the making of the original.  “I managed to get eight of the people originally involved in the project to come together and share their stories about the making of that movement,” says Tornare.  “I learned a lot. One thing they all shared was that at the time Zenith was willing and eager to push the boundaries in order to develop something special. Each time they shared their ideas to have a high-frequency chronograph movement, they were told they couldn’t do it. But their perseverance demonstrates how creative and innovative the brand was even then.”

El Primero Revival A384

El Primero, 1969 © Zenith

Zenith El Primero A384 Revival

The new El Primero A384 Revival watch pays homage to the incredible success of the El Primero movement – which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Like the original watch, this stainless steel model measures 37mm in diameter and is a nearly identical replica of the original in terms of design.  The movement, however, is an updated El Primero 400 Automatic column-wheel chronograph, and the crystal is now sapphire instead of the original acrylic glass. Additionally, whereas the original version had a metal caseback, the new piece is fitted with a transparent sapphire crystal case back for viewing of the 278-part movement that beats at 5 Hz and offers 50 hours of power reserve. 

El Primero Revival A384

El Primero Revival A384 © Zenith

The case shape and the dial, though, recall the original. The dial is white with black chronograph subdials and features the small seconds at 9 o’clock. Additionally, the chronograph has a central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter and 30-minute counter. On the outer ring of the dial there is a tachymeter scale. A date indication resides at 4:30. The watch is water resistant to 10ATM and features SuperLuminova SLN C3 hands and markers.  Perhaps most impressive is the ladder style bracelet that accompanies the watch. It is built like the original, with open space between the links to emulate a ladder. The vintage appeal of this bracelet completes the watch, which is also offered on a black leather strap for those who prefer it. 

“This is the new direction for the brand. For now the Defy is the futuristic, innovative line, and the El Primero and Chronomaster Elite will each have their own distinct looks and directions, with El Primero being classic in styling,” says Tornare. “This will be evident when you see the new products for 2020.”

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