October 14, 2019
by Rob Nudds
What happens when you bring together one of the world’s premier fashion retailers, one of the world’s finest customizers, and one of the world’s most esteemed watchmakers? As much as that sounds like the opening to a rude joke, it’s a serious question to which we first saw an answer last year when Mr Porter, Bamford Watch Department, and Zenith collaborated to create the Zenith Solar Blue. This year, this dynamic triumvirate is sticking to the celestial theme with the new Mr Porter × Bamford Watch Department × Zenith El Primero Revival A384 Edge of Space Limited-Edition watch. The Edge of Space Limited Edition is one of the grittiest pieces ever produced by the brand (quite literally), thanks to its rough, bead-blasted exterior and solemn gray/blue dial.
This model and this partnership came at the perfect time to bring together a lot of the threads of LVMH’s disruptive 2019 strategy. The revival of the A384 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the El Primero movement was inspired, and last year’s partnership with Mr Porter was a clear winner amongst fans of the vendor. Bamford’s unique position as LVMH’s go-to customizer seems set for the long haul. This model, which brings the trio together, could probably look like anything and still sell, such is its cross-appeal. And while this doesn’t look like any A384 I’ve ever seen before, it comes off looking stark, futuristic, utilitarian, and brutally self-confident. In short, I want one.
Fiona Firth, Buying Director for Mr Porter, says, “Following on from the success of last year’s ‘Solar Blue’ Limited Edition, we are excited to launch our next exclusive collaboration with Zenith and Bamford Watch Department — the ‘Edge of Space,’ which takes inspiration from Zenith’s archive and weaves iconic elements into the El Primero A384. The result is supremely modern and unique.”
This watch is a veritable “who’s who” of Zenith’s history. Several design elements from previous models crop up in the design of the Mr Porter × Bamford Watch Department × Zenith El Primero Revival A384 Edge of Space Limited Edition, including a tachymeter lifted from a 1984/86 El Primero, and subdials derived from the caliber 146-HP from 1970. My only complaint with this aesthetic is not the size or placement of the date window (both are great, in my opinion) but the color (black print on a white background instead of the other way round) doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, to my eyes. Sure, it makes the date stand out more, but I don’t think flipping the colors would have sacrificed legibility and might have caused less of an interruption to an otherwise exemplary dial.
Housed in an achingly cool 37mm × 12.6mm titanium micro-blasted case, the Mr Porter × Bamford Watch Department × Zenith El Primero Revival A384 Edge of Space Limited Edition boasts an open caseback showing off Zenith’s famous El Primero 400 caliber, which operates at 36,000vph with a power reserve of 50 hours. This means that the chronograph layout on the dial has the minute counter at 3 o’clock, the 12-hour counter at 6, and the going seconds at 9. Mounted centrally are the hour and minute hands, topped by the chronograph seconds hand. The watch is water-resistant to 50 meters and employs sapphire crystals on both the front and the back of the case. In low light conditions, high-quality Swiss Super-LumiNova SLN C1 gives off a blue glow.
Just 50 of this “stellar” timepiece will be produced, and those extremely limited models will hit the shelves on November 18th, 2019. The reference number for the Mr Porter × Bamford Watch Department × Zenith El Primero Revival A384 Edge of Space Limited Edition watch is 97.A384.400/27.C821, and it will retail for $8,600. Learn more at zenith-watches.com.