Monochrome Watches
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Zenith Chronomaster El Primero C.01 – Members Only

Silicon Valley collectors get their very own customised Chronomaster El Primero.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 3 min read |
Zenith Chronomaster El Primero C.01

It’s becoming more and more frequent for watch brands to create special, exclusive editions for bona fide collectors. A collector’s club based in Silicon Valley is the latest recipient of a customised Zenith watch for its members. With such a high concentration of IT companies and the looming presence of Apple, it would be fair to deduce that most techie guys in Silicon Valley stick to techie gadgets when it comes to wrist wear. Obviously the collector’s club founders – Gabe Reilly and Asher Rapkin – spotted a niche in this high-tech oasis for good old mechanical watches and created the club Collective. As fans of Zenith’s El Primero, which incidentally celebrates its 50th anniversary this year, the founders decided to kick off their members-only club with 50 customised watches of Chronomaster El Primero.

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero C.01

What’s different about the Chronomaster El Primero C.01?

The Collective club has gone for the smaller 38mm steel case as opposed to the 42mm – selecting the same case size as the original 1969 model. The case, with a height of 12.45mm, features the familiar alternating polished and satin-brushed surfaces of other El Primero watches but has bespoke satin-brushed pushers to match the lugs. The real customisation tweaks though have to do with the dial.

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In keeping with Silicon Valley style mandates, where the dress code is strictly informal, the watch is deliberately low-key and laid-back. Think along the lines of those sleek white Apple gadgets and you’ll get the idea…

Gone are the colourful sub-dials and red central chronograph hand and instead, the watch presents an almost monochrome appearance. The dial features a matte white background with subtle light-grey accents on the minute track and sub-dials. All the printing on the dial is also picked out in grey and for those of you who have a phobia to date windows, this too has been suppressed. According to the brand, this decision was taken in the name of balance.

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero C.01

The applied and facetted hour markers and hands are familiar, but the lume (Super-LumiNova C1) on the tips of the markers and down the hands glows a cool shade of blue in the dark. Like the hour and minute hands, the chronograph hand is also rhodium-plated to blend into the soothing colour scheme. Incidentally, the C.01 in the name of the watch indicates that it is the launch piece for Collective members.

El Primero high-frequency movement

Underneath the sapphire crystal on the reverse side is an El Primero 4601 automatic column-wheel chronograph movement running at 36,000vph/5Hz with a robust power reserve of 50 hours. Although you can’t see it in the pictures provided, the case back will feature an XX/50 and C.01 engraving.

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero C.01


The last detail to set this watch apart from the crowd is the tough and long-lasting Cordura fabric strap “to provide the watch with a more industrial feel” and underline the tool watch aesthetic pursued in this collaboration.

Limited to 50 pieces exclusively for members of the Collective club, the watch has a retail price of USD 6,850. More details at

3 responses

  1. Again, I am no collector or customer of high end watches, but as an enthusiast, it irritates me to see all these “special edition”, new coming out every second day, with no actual horological, mechanical, performance merit, just a different colour, so they spend half a day “inventing” it, and designated to be sold only in one district of Santiago de Chile, just make the collectors wet their trousers like children at school who has the rarer matchbox car and who has more matchbook cars. I spoke to a collector once, focusing on actual advancements in the crafts, and he said the same thing, it’s all about limited editions.

  2. Though I do agree this kind of “special/limited editions” will never be a real advancement, they also mean chances of a few more pop or quirkiness I may want but can’t get from the serial production models. As long as the brands still keeps on new innovations/designs, I won’t mind they also offer a lot of limited editions.

  3. What is the point of putting the caliber 4061, that of the new Open models, therefore with all the skeletonized escapement, on a watch with a closed dial that does not allow you to see it?!?!?!
    The most absurd thing I’ve ever seen.


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