Photos by Ariel Adams

For LVMH Watch Week 2024, Zenith has dropped quite a heavy hitter. When Zenith launched its Chronomaster Sport models in 2021, it was clear the brand had a hit on its hands. A slick, three-register chronograph with a new El Primero movement and 1/10th second timing? Forget about it. Sure, the black-bezeled debut models attracted as much criticism as praise for looking a bit much like the Rolex Daytona, but no one seemed to say it looked bad. In that same vein, you could say the all-new Zenith Chronomaster Sport in gold with a gem-set bezel is another shot across the bow at the good ship (Rainbow) Daytona. Once again, though, the Chronomaster Sport offers something a little bit different.

This isn’t the first gold Zenith Chronomaster Sport. Last year, the brand dropped a trio of rose gold models (including one two-tone model), and this model takes the full golds of those three and turns it up to eleven.  The biggest change, obviously, is the replacement of the ceramic 1/10th seconds bezel with 5 carats of baguette-cut gems. Coordinated with the tricolor chronograph registers, the bezel is segmented into three arcs: blue sapphires, black spinels, and grey sapphires. With diamonds at the would-be one-second intervals, the effect is impressive, with a bezel that plays with light and is a joy to glance down at. You lose the scaling that allows for the full utility of the 1/10th second timing afforded by the movement, but I’ll be honest and say I didn’t miss it much. 1/10th second timing has very little utility, especially for someone who’s never been particularly fast nor needed to time fast things; it’s a neat party trick, essentially. Here, it’s traded for something visual and compelling, if a bit flashy, and I found myself at ease with the omission of a scaled bezel. True, it would have made more sense to use 60 gems instead of 50 and maintain a semblance of functionality, but you can still use the diamonds as seconds markers and ballpark your timing.

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The case measurements remain the same: 41mm diameter, 13.6mm height, 46.2mm lug-to-lug, which sits right between the Daytona and the Speedmaster. It’s a happy medium, too, as I found the 18k rose gold to add some welcome heft to the watch, while the angles of the case and the fitted bracelet help it drape around the wrist more effectively. Though I’m not personally a fan of the polished links on the steel models, I did find them attractive here. The blend of brushing and polishing throughout lends a bit of restraint to this decidedly glitzy watch, but I think that some shine is called for in a gold watch. What I am a big fan of is pump pushers, which I think make much more sense on a chronograph than the Daytona’s screw-down pushers. In fact, screw-down pushers make no sense at all, seeing as the Zenith gets the same 100m water resistance as the Rolex.

While comfortable and beautiful, the bracelet suffers a bit for lack of features. Despite having introduced separate quick-release mechanisms for the Defy and Pilot lines, Zenith has yet to do so for the Chronomaster line; though I can’t imagine ever wanting to take it off the rose gold bracelet, not having the option would bother me. Further, the flip-lock clasp offers no quick-adjust mechanism, leaving owners to hold their breath and pray they don’t mar the clasp as they push the pins out. I’d like to see Zenith remedy these shortcomings quickly, as I think they potentially hold some buyers back from purchasing a Chronomaster instead of one of the other revered Swiss chronos.

While one may think that the sparkles of the bezel’s gems were the main attraction, it’s really the dial that hogs the limelight with this gold Zenith Chronomaster Sport. The layout is exactly what anyone expects from an El Primero-powered Zenith: tricolor 3-6-9 chronograph registers and a 4:30 date window set almost at the edge of the dial. But as with the bezel, Zenith has upped the ante. The hour markers are baguette-cut diamonds, the handset is gold-plated (and features the only lume on the entire watch), and the dial is a captivating gold meteorite.

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The meteorite of the dial is, in fact, traditional meteorite with a gold coating, and while that’s less cool than some wild gold meteorite, it’s still beautiful, and the meteorite patterning (Windmanstätten) will likely distract you from actually reading the time. Of course, as a father of two small children, every meteorite dial reminds me of Eric Carle’s art, like that in The Very Hungry Caterpillar. (The flip side of my sons poisoning my ability to appreciate beautiful things is that the older one just told me, “Sometimes I actually have dreams about watches.”)

The El Primero 3600 made its debut in 2019 for the El Primero’s 50th anniversary. It was first featured in the Chronomaster 2 El Primero Striking Tenth, but two years later was put into regular production and used in the Chronomaster Sport line. While any watch with the same 36,000 vph frequency could in theory measure 1/10 second, few actually offer such a display. While this particular model doesn’t give you the 1/10th second scale of the regular CM Sports, you can be assured that the hand still whips around madly thanks to a 100-tooth silicon wheel used to drive the chronograph hand. Other features of the impressive caliber include hacking, a quick-set date, and a power reserve of 60 hours. The chronograph mechanism features a column wheel and a lateral clutch, and the movement architects at Zenith have done a great job designing this watch to show off all the components, with the blued screws and column wheel standing out. To be honest, I spent almost as much time ogling the movement as I did the dial.

Just like the rest of the Chronomaster Sport line, the new model with gold and gems offers a brilliant addition to the Chronomaster line and a splendid option for those interested in a gem-set gold watch (chronograph or otherwise). The El Primero provenance, the matching of the registers and the bezel gemstones, and the riveting dial all deliver serious punch and appeal. As far as these things go, there’s really not much to dislike here. The Zenith Chronomaster Sport in gold with the full sparkle treatment (Ref. 22.3100.3600/69.M3100) is priced at 98,600 USD. For more information, please visit the brand’s website

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