May 10, 2023
by Ariel Adams
At a glance, the Chronomaster Sport collection is Swiss Zenith Watches’ answer to the mega-popular Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. Since the debut of this collection in 2021 with the all-steel model (covered on aBlogtoWatch here), Zenith has had a venerable hit with one major selling point being availability.. Zenith priced its steel version with ceramic bezel within a stone’s throw of what Rolex was charging for its steel Daytona with a ceramic bezel watch. It was smart marketing. Today, I look at an even more elevated grouping of Zenith Chronomaster Sport watches that include the two-tone reference 51.3100.3600/69.M3100, the all-gold with white dial reference 18.3101.3600/69.M3100 and the all-gold with black dial reference 18.3101.3600/21.M3100.
These watches too are in their own way an “answer” to products that Rolex sells but with lots of Zenith branding. I think the one important point that allows these watches to remain both relevant and interesting in contrast to the Rolex Daytona is Zenith’s history with Rolex. What few enthusiasts recall today is that, for about a decade, Rolex Daytona watches included a Zenith El Primero automatic chronograph movement. It wasn’t until Rolex introduced its own in-house chronograph movement in the early 2000s that the Daytona stopped using the El Primero. So, to have a Zenith watch that is inspired by the El Primero is very much an exercise in playing with the brand’s own DNA.
Accordingly, these Chronomaster Sport watches contain the in-house Zenith automatic caliber El Primero 3600 chronograph movement. This is just an update on the classic 1/10 of a second chronograph, 5Hz (36,000 bph) El Primero movement. The dial includes the time, date, and 1/10 of a second 60-minute chronograph (which, of course, is a bit different from the Rolex Daytona and other three-subdial chronograph movements that typically have 12-hour chronograph dials). The movement has a power reserve of 60 hours and is built from 311 parts being nicely displayed through the sapphire crystal exhibition caseback.
The Chronomaster Sport watch dials represent Zenith El Primero heritage with the three-color overlapping subdials. While from a distance, the watch has a Daytona-esque vibe to it, once you get up close and personal with Chronomaster Sport, you realize that it is very much a Zenith in most respects (we can forgive the “iconic-looking” tachymeter scale bezels) ranging from the dial elements to the case shape. The cases are 41mm-wide with 100 meters of water resistance. Overall, Zenith did a really nice design job of combining its own personality with the feel of a 1990s Rolex Daytona. Wearing these watches is accordingly very pleasing and remarkably conservative given what most people think about many of today’s Zenith watches.
What these three watches also have in common is 18k gold — steel and gold for the reference 51.3100.3600/69.M3100 and solid 18k gold for the other two models. The gold bracelets are not finished like the steel ones (they look similar but feel different when held) and, in my opinion, have a more luxurious jewelry feel to them. Zenith bevels the edges with polishing on the bracelet links (both the steel and gold pieces) which appreciably adds to their visual appeal. The feeling on the wrist for these heavy gold models is elegant and meaningfully substantial. Personally, I like the size which seems like a good blend between classic and modern in proportion.
Over the dial is a box-style sapphire crystal which lends a more vintage-style to the overall design. Again, this is Zenith being inspired by not modern Daytona watches, but rather those from the past which actually contained Zenith El Primero movements. That few people are able to acquire reasonably priced Rolex Daytona watches with Zenith movements means that these new Chronomaster Sport watches are an excellent new opportunity to own a great type of watch-wearing experience. Unlike with most other chronograph watches, you also get the 5Hz accuracy as well as the rapidly moving 1/10 of a second chronograph hand, which is fun to play with and view.
Visually, I like these gold and two-tone Chronomaster Sport watches even more than the all-steel versions (which currently also offer new model with a tri-color blue, gray, and black ceramic bezel). There are plenty of other steel sports watch chronographs on the market for me to want to chase a modern Daytona look. With these gold models, Zenith captures some of that unmet Daytona demand, but also invokes its past relationship with Rolex and creates a modern watch that really wants to live in the 1990s. I dig it. Price for the Zenith Chronomaster Sport watch in steel and 18k gold is $17,000 USD, and the all-18k gold model has a retail price of $38,200 USD. Learn more at the Zenith watches website here.