Amidst all the new watches of 2021 comes quieter news of the discontinuation of the 38mm case size Zenith Chronomaster El Primero and the release of a very limited 38-piece final edition. I’ve always had an appreciation for the classically sized 38mm-case Chronomaster El Primero (formerly El Primero Original 1969), and it’s a shame to see it go. That said, maybe some consolidation of the increasingly large roster of Zenith chronographs isn’t all bad news.
I am glad that the Chronomaster 38mm Final Edition has a traditional dial (as opposed to the openwork model from 2017) but the brand didn’t go into vintage reissue mode. Rather, there is an opaline off-white dial with a “blood red” take on the 9 o’clock running seconds subdial that I haven’t seen before. The chronograph registers at 3 and 6 o’clock are in blue and gray, while the chronograph hand is also done in blood red.
Zenith uses the El Primero 4061 movement here, which is the no-date model, and I think the type of enthusiasts who will pick up one of these 38 pieces likely will likely appreciate this choice. Of course, it operates at a frequency of 36,000 vph and has a 50-hour power reserve.
The 38mm-wide case should be just around 12.45mm-thick and has 100M of water resistance, as is the case with previous iterations. I believe the lug-to-lug height for this soon-to-be-gone case is just around 46mm, which is more than one would guess for a 38mm, but it makes for a very wearable watch. Of course, I’m going by memory from the last time I wore a 38mm El Primero, but I have done so on several occasions. I actually quite like sub-40mm chronographs and own an old Omega Speedmaster ReducedRef. 3523.80.00 that is 39mm and pretty perfect.
The 38mm Chronomaster Final Edition is going to come with three calf-leather straps in red, blue, and gray that match the subdial windows. There will also be a steel bracelet option that includes those three leather straps, though I am not certain about the exact number out of 38 that will have this bracelet option. Price for the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero 38mm Final Edition will be $8,800 on the three leather straps and $9,850 on bracelet with the three leather straps, as well. The 38 pieces will exclusively be sold through Zenith retailer timelessluxwatches.