Collaborations between watch brands and retailers can often be some of the most natural partnerships that exist within this industry. Rather than trying to combine two distinct design languages or overtly reminding people of the inspiration behind the co-branded watch, most retailers simply have an idea for a new colorway or an extension to an existing line, and this means that the resulting watch is usually something that both looks good and feels natural, rather than being a bit too on-the-nose when it comes to its intended design inspiration. As one of the world’s leading luxury timepiece retailers, Watches of Switzerland Group is no stranger to collaborating with brands to produce exclusive limited editions, and a similar statement could be made about Zenith, which frequently teams up with various entities to create unique renditions of some of its most famous models. Based upon one of the most iconic chronographs of all time and featuring a fresh colorway with gray and blue accents, the new Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition is the result of these two legendary industry names working together and the combined experience creating collaboration pieces that each one brings to the table.
Crafted from stainless steel, the case of the new Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition will be instantly familiar to anyone who has previously handled the inaugural Chronomaster Original model that debuted last year in 2021. A highly accurate yet modern rendition of the famous Zenith A386 that was one of the original trio of El Primero models released in 1969, the 38mm case stays true to the sizing of the vintage version; however, it benefits from modern enhancements such as a scratch-resistant sapphire crystal protecting its dial and a display caseback to offer a few of its automatic chronograph movement. Just like the vintage A386 from 1969, the case of the Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition offers a fairly traditional shape with a rounded profile and thick lugs that gently taper down to wedge-cut tips. The top surfaces of the lugs offer a distinct radially brushed finish, while the sides are high-polished, with a sharp bevel separating the two contrasting surfaces. On the right-hand side of the case resides a signed winning crown at the 3 o’clock location, which is flanked by a pair of pump-style chronograph pushers that offer access to the chronograph functions, while still allowing the watch to be water-resistant to 50 meters
While the case of the Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition may be familiar to some, the dial of the new model offers a fresh take on Zenith’s iconic tricolor chronograph design. Set against a matte white surface are the model’s signature trio of overlapping registers in three different graduated shades of gray. Each one of the registers receives a thin blue hand, which matches the contrasting 1/10th of a second scale that surrounds the applied luminous hour markers along the periphery of the dial. Sitting in the center is a trio of hands, with the hour and minute hands receiving luminous centers for added visibility, while the centrally-mounted chronograph hand appears in blue to match the indicators for the registers and the various other dial accents. As this model is an El Primero at its core, it features the obligatory 4:30 date window, while the Zenith logo and “El Primero” branding sit below the 12 o’clock marker, along with the “36,000 vph” inscription that denotes that this model uses the brand’s legendary high-frequency chronograph movement.
Powering the Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition is the brand’s El Primero 3600 automatic movement, which is the latest version of Zenith’s iconic self-winding chronograph caliber that can trace its origins directly back to 1969. Running at a frequency of 36,000vph (5Hz) and offering the ability to measure times down to 1/10th of a second with a 60-hour power reserve, the time of day is displayed by the normal hour and minute hand, with the corresponding running seconds indicated by the register at 9 o’clock. With that in mind, the Zenith El Primero 3600 features a centrally-mounted chronograph hand that makes one full rotation every 10 seconds to enable its signature 1/10th of a second timing capabilities, while the actual elapsed seconds are tracked by the register at 3 o’clock and the accompanying minutes are displayed by the sub-dial at the 6 o’clock position. Fitted with a skeletonized star-shaped oscillating weight, the Zenith El Primero 3600 represents the latest version of one of the most famous and important movements in watchmaking history, while the new model itself is completed by a matching stainless steel Chronomaster Original bracelet that has brushed side links, high-polished centers, and a latching fold-over clasp.
The new Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition almost seems like a watch that already should exist, which is ultimately a good thing since it means that the model offers a cohesive design that effortlessly fits in with the rest of the models that Zenith has put forward over the years. With that in mind, its white, gray, and blue color profile offers a fresh take on a classic and it seems modern and contemporary, while still embracing the watch’s inherently vintage-leaning overall design. Available exclusively from select Watches of Switzerland Group showrooms and boutiques, along with the retailer’s websites (Watches of Switzerland and Mayors Jewelers), the Zenith x Watches of Switzerland Group Chronomaster Original Limited Edition will be accompanied by an official retail price of $9,500 USD and production will be limited to just 100 pieced worldwide. For more information, please visit the brand’s website.