Although it is often the colorful and outlandish watches that dominate conversations and social media, it is actually the more traditional and conservative models that end up being their respective brand’s best-sellers. Sometimes the most popular new releases are specifically the ones that don’t immediately jump off the page, and as its latest new release of 2023, Zenith has announced a model that seems like it already should have existed within the brand’s catalog. The Zenith Chronomaster Original is the modern interpretation of the ref. A386, which was one of the first round-cased steel El Primero models from 1969, and this latest new release presents its signature tricolor chronograph registers against a black dial, marking the first time that this colorway has been available within this classic fan-favorite case profile.
The new Zenith Chronomaster Original (ref: 03.3200.3600/22.M3200) is essentially just the black tricolor dial version of the existing white dial model. Swap out the creamy white dial surface for matte black, and you basically have the idea here, although having this rather obvious configuration be an option within the lineup simply makes a lot of sense. Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport series already gives buyers the option between white or black versions of its signature tricolor dial, and given that black is universally one of the most popular and versatile dial colors, it’s a bit surprising that the Zenith Chronomaster Original lineup didn’t already offer a black tricolor dial as an option.
Just like its white dial sibling, the new Zenith Chronomaster Original Black Tricolor Dial features a round 38mm stainless steel case with a signed crown flanked by a set of pump-style pushers on the 3 o’clock side. A domed sapphire crystal sits above the dial, while a second sapphire crystal is fitted to its screw-down display caseback, and as this new model is identical to the white dial variant from an external perspective, water resistance for this new black tricolor dial version comes in at the same 50 meters. Additionally, just like the white dial model, the new black dial version is available with either the collection’s three-link stainless steel bracelet or a two-piece leather strap, and the leather strap option is crafted from black Nubuck calfskin and fitted with a stainless steel folding clasp.
While the overall design and layout of the dial fitted to this new model is identical to its sibling, the use of matte black instead of white ultimately results in a noticeably different overall appearance. The tricolor trio of chronograph registers in two different shades of gray and blue has been carried over from the white dial model, as has the bright red centrally mounted chronograph seconds hand and the date window at the 4:30 position. While the new model also features a 1/10th of a second scale printed along the periphery of its dial, this detail now appears as a contrasting ring of white against the matte black surface, rather than offering the inverted aesthetic like the existing white dial model. The faceted rhodium-plated hands and hour markers have also been carried over from the white dial version, and just like the set fitted to its sibling, the hands and markers are finished with Super-LumiNova C1 for additional low-light visibility.
Internally, the new Zenith Chronomaster Original Black Tricolor Dial is powered by the same column wheel-operated El Primero automatic chronograph movement, which runs at a frequency of 36,000vph (5 Hz) with a power reserve of approximately 60 hours. The core architecture of this famous movement is very much a known quantity by this point, and its high-beat operation and additional scale along the periphery of the dial allow it to measure times down to 1/10th of a second. Whether or not the human hand is able to operate a mechanical pusher with such precision is a completely different story, although should your fingers be quick enough, the El Primero chronograph movement does offer a rather precise mechanical timing solution.
While our eyes may be most attracted to the vibrant and “out there” designs, the majority of people tend to stick to the classics when it is actually their own money on the line. A quick look at the cars on the road will confirm this mentality among buyers — you may see the neon green or orange on magazine covers, but the majority of the automobiles in any city seem to either be black, white, or silver (sometimes a decent amount of blue) — and the exact same statement could be said about watch dials. Having a black tricolor version of the classic stainless steel Zenith Chronomaster Original simply makes sense, and with an official retail price of $9,500 USD on the leather strap or $10,000 USD should buyers opt for the bracelet, the new black dial version costs the exact same as its standard white dial counterpart. For more information on the Zenith Chronomaster Original Black Tricolor Dial, please visit the brand’s website.