Watches Wednesday: Zenith Revives the El Primero Chronomaster A385
13 January 2021

Watches Wednesday: Zenith Revives the El Primero Chronomaster A385

Zenith resuscitates one of its earliest El Primero chronograph watches from 1969. In fact, it was the world’s first automatic high-frequency chronograph that came in 3 steel models. Amongst the trio was the A385, a tonneau-shaped steel chronograph with a “smoked” brown gradient dial which again made it the first ever in the watch industry. The A385 was so superior that even when it was strapped to the landing gear on an Air France Boeing 707 aircraft from Paris to New York, the timepiece was in perfect working order, withstanding drastic temperature fluctuations, air pressure changes, and wind force.

Zenith Heritage El Primero Chronograph Models

Now, fast forward 50 years later, and the A385 makes its comeback as a Chronomaster Revival model. But guess what, it’s not just a refreshed model, but is actually a reproduction of the original 1969 model, what the Manufacture has called “an exercise of reverse engineering”. The 37mm tonneau-shaped stainless steel case is retained, along with its pump-style pushers. What’s new, is the utilisation of the domed sapphire crystal instead of acrylic glass.

Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Revival A385 Steel Bracelet

Zenith also keeps the original “smoked” ombré brown dial, with its red chronograph central second hand and silvery-white chronograph counters, making it exactly like the original. The only way you’d be able to tell the difference is to flip it over onto its caseback because you’d find it to be completely see-through with the El Primero 400 chronograph movement in full view, as opposed to the closed solid steel case back on the original. Ensuring that the Chronomaster Revival A385 is kept as close to the original, it’s available in a light brown calf leather strap that will develop a patina over time (see top photo), or in the steel “ladder” bracelet (a modern remake of the signature Gay Frères bracelets found on the early El Primero watches).

The Chronomaster Revival A385 is now available at all Zenith boutiques and authorised retailers globally.


Images courtesy of Zenith