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Zenith Chronomaster 2 – The Next Big Step Forward for the El Primero

The latest generation El Primero 3600 calibre breathes new life and enhanced performance into a legendary movement.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 3 min read |
Zenith Chronomaster 2 El Primero

It’s been a busy year for Zenith as it celebrates the 50th anniversary of its legendary El Primero high-frequency automatic chronograph movement. Revivals like the A384 and A 386, customised editions for collectors, and now this Chronomaster 2 all form part of the festivities. The Chronomaster 2 Special 50th Anniversary Edition is a limited edition of 250 titanium watches (in blue and black) with a redesigned El Primero 3600 Calibre. A high-frequency movement capable of measuring 1/10th of a second like the 1969 version, the new generation El Primero 3600 calibre features a stop-seconds device and an increased power reserve of 60 hours. Expect to see it with different complications on other models in the very near future.

Zenith 50 Years of El Primero Anniversary Set
The Zenith Chronomaster 2 Striking 10th found in the El Primero 50th Anniversary set.

What’s the buzz about?

The new Zenith Chronomaster 2 is the modern, 21st-century take on one of the most iconic chronographs ever created.

Like the buzz generated around the 1969 El Primero, the big news regarding the Chronomaster 2 is not so much about the watch but the movement. Touted by the brand as the “biggest change to the El Primero since the beginning”, Calibre 3600 was introduced at the beginning of 2019 in one of the models (Chronomaster 2 Striking 10th) of the trilogy known as “50 Years of El Primero Anniversary Set”.

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Zenith Chronomaster 2 El Primero

Chronomaster 2

The Chronomaster 2 is the brand’s bet on anchoring the El Primero firmly in the 21st century – aesthetically and mechanically. The skeletonised dial and dimensions (42mm x 12.75mm) are more contemporary as is the case material, made from lightweight titanium. Finished with brushed surfaces and polished chamfers, the case exudes a sporty virile personality.

Zenith Chronomaster 2 El Primero

Zenith Chronomaster 2 El Primero

The distinctive El Primero counters – in blue at 3 o’clock (elapsed seconds), anthracite at 6 o’clock (elapsed minutes) and light grey at 9 o’clock  (running seconds), a signature element of the original A386 model – slightly overlap one another and are placed on the skeletonised dial. The date function appears at 6 o’clock with a darker background and the entire date disc is exposed on the dial. The rhodium-plated and faceted hour markers feature Super-LumiNova on their tips as do the central hour and minute hands.

Zenith Chronomaster 2 El Primero

What is different on the Chronomaster 2 compared to former Chronomaster models is the graduated bezel, available in either black or blue ceramic. The bezel is graduated from 0 to 10, which at Zenith means a high-precision measurement of the seconds. The Chronomaster 2 features the Striking Tenth concept. First introduced by Zenith in 2011, the Striking Tenth allows the red central chronograph hand to make a full sweep of the dial in ten seconds, not the conventional 60-second rotation. That’s six times the speed of a normal chronograph hand and allows each jump of the red chronograph hand to indicate successive tenths of a second on the 100 graduations of the flange and bezel. As you can see, there is no hours register on the dial because the Striking Tenth function does not count elapsed hours.

El Primero 3600 – the way forward

A modernised and entirely redesigned version of the El Primero high-frequency chronograph movement, there were some aspects of the original that had to be respected: an integrated construction incorporating a lateral clutch, column wheel and ball bearing-mounted central rotor, a high-frequency of 36,000vph, and the 1/10th of a second chronograph function. The specifications for the new movement stipulated modularity and optimised industrial production and called for the addition of a stop-seconds device and a more potent power reserve of 60 hours. The sapphire crystal caseback reveals parts of the automatic movement including the star-shaped oscillating weight.

Zenith Chronomaster 2 El Primero

Availability and price

The blue and black models of the Chronomaster 2 are fitted with a matching blue or black alligator strap with sporty grey stitching and a steel double folding clasp. Both models are limited to 250 pieces. It will retail for CHF 9,900.

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6 responses

  1. Love the brand and the movement, but the skeletonized versions are too similar to the modern Tag carreras (the skeletonized ones, I mean). Those are not for me (even though the price is quite fair).

  2. It reminds me of what you see when you take the lid off a jig saw puzzle, all the bits are there to see randomly. It’s a complete mess. I dont doubt that there is a good watch underneath, but why?

  3. I realize the Zenith chronograph is an iconic movement, but the brand simply must update it if they insist on 40mm+ cases. The subdials look disproportionately close together on such a large watch.

  4. I realize the Zenith chronograph is an iconic movement, but the brand simply must update it if they insist on 40mm+ cases. The subdials look disproportionately close together on such a large watch.

  5. Absolutely love these, totally different it’s siblings.

  6. Bought one and it rocks on wrist. Absolutely stunning and a favorite in my collection.

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