Boy, I’m really starting to wonder what else is up in that Zenith attic in Le Locle. Physical evidence of DB Cooper’s whereabouts? John Lennon’s missing Patek Philippe 2499? Fresh on the heels of the El Primero Chronomaster “Shadow” — a modern revival of a prototype discovered in the now-legendary storage space above the brand’s manufacture, Zenith is back with another revival uncovered from the same horological trove: a blue prototype dial thought to be intended for the original A386 from 1969. It certainly does get one wondering how many other treasures might have been stashed up there alongside the original tooling for the El Primero movement once famously hidden away by Charles Vermot in what could very well be one of the most “punk rock” rejections of authority the Swiss watch industry’s ever experienced.
Model: Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition (ref. 03.Z386.400/60.C843)
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Case Material: stainless steel
Movement: El Primero 400 high-beat automatic column-wheel chronograph
Frequency: 36,000 VpH (5 Hz)
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Strap/Bracelet: blue alligator strap with rubber lining, secured by pin buckle
Price & Availability: $9,200
Differing from the standard El Primero Chronomaster, whose tricolor gray-to-blue register layout is more or less a visual household name now, the new Manufacture Edition adopts an all-blue gradient pattern, with the lightest of the three registers rendered in blue at 9 o’clock, moving to a dark blue at 3 o’clock. But the registers aren’t the whole story here — this new reference is built atop a faithful “revival” of the original 38mm A386 case from 1969, which, until now, hasn’t exactly been commercially available. Zenith did re-issue the A386 in this case last year for the El Primero’s 50th Anniversary, but much to the chagrin of many collectors, it was only available in precious metal or in a box set — neither of which could be obtained for less than $20,000. So, while this isn’t technically the original A386 gray-black-blue dial from 1969, this online exclusive in stainless steel is awfully close, and its price of a little over $9,000 USD should be welcome news to Zenith collectors the world over. Sure, it’s still a bit of a tease, but its unique origins and distribution strategy (more on that in a moment) make it absolutely worth a second look for those still holding out for the non-limited revival of the 38mm A386 in steel.
One neat detail with this particular release is that the watch ships in special packaging designed to mimic a book of blueprints of the Zenith manufacture. Inside, you’ll also find a reproduction of one of the original “attic-found” vintage dials, along with a comic book illustrating the mischievous actions of Charles Vermot (by none other than Swiss cartoonist Cosey). Once again, the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition has a price of 8,900 CHF, which is around $9,200 USD at the time of this writing. One interesting purchasing caveat is that, as a “manufacture” piece, this edition was originally only slated to be available to visitors of the Zenith manufacture in Le Locle, but given the current state of closures throughout Europe and the rest of the world, it will be rolled out across Zenith’s e-commerce platform until the brand’s physical museum and retail channels re-open for business later in the season. Learn more at zenith-watches.com.