Monochrome Watches
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The New Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

Zenith retains its winning formula and introduces a contemporary take on an elusive timepiece from the brand's past.

| By Denis Peshkov | 6 min read |

Zenith once again demonstrates its mastery of blending a contemporary collection with historically inspired timepieces, and the latest addition, the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar, is poised to receive well-deserved acclaim. In an impressive feat, the Le Locle-based manufacture introduces six new references, showcasing the beloved calendar complication alongside the high-frequency chronograph – a combination not seen in the brand’s catalogue for some time. What sets this release apart is the use of a compact 38mm case, crafted to mirror the exact blueprint and proportions of the original A386 from 1969 – and if your heart isn’t already racing to keep up with the El Primero’s beat, well, it should. The new Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar stands out as a beautiful series, and having had the opportunity to experience these watches firsthand, here’s our take on them.

Historical perspective

Interestingly, the El Primero calibre was conceived to incorporate the triple calendar and moon phase functions right from its inception. In 1970, a series of 25 prototypes was crafted as a proof of concept, utilising the same case as the A386 model. Zenith acquired one at Christie’s in May of 2012 for CHF 37,500, submitting the winning bid in recognition of its historical significance and perhaps considering the unknown number of the 25 prototypes produced still in existence. Zenith carefully examined this original timepiece, which provided the essential details needed to create modern homages. Another example of this Zenith El Primero Calendar reference 1205SP was sold by Phillips in 2015.

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An El Primero Calendar prototype – image by Phillips auction

According to Zenith, owing to the resounding success of the core chronograph version, a strategic decision was made to delay the release of the first El Primero triple calendar for a few years. This eventual release took the form of the 1972 Espada A7817, hailed as the world’s first automatic chronograph with a full calendar and moon phase.

The first “official” El Primero watch with calendar function, the Espada reference A7817 – image by Drout auction

In 1994, Zenith introduced the Chronomaster collection, a name rooted in the 1950s, offering a 39mm Chronomaster 410 automatic chronograph series with moon phase and calendar indications. Notably, this timepiece came with COSC certification. Despite the large quantities produced over the years (the iconic calibre 410 saw more than thirty years of regular production before retiring at the turn of the century), this model remains a highly sought-after collector’s item, attesting to its enduring appeal and significance.

The more modern Zenith El Primero 410, a limited edition of 500 pieces with a 42mm case

Among the more recent Zenith watches to house the iconic high-beat chronograph movement and the complete calendar complication, the 42mm Zenith El Primero calibre 410 took the stage. Launched in 2013 as a limited edition of 500 units, it was followed by a non-limited release with nearly identical looks and specifications, featuring slight modifications to differentiate it from the limited edition. Both references drew design inspiration from the 1970s prototype mentioned above. But even more than before, today’s new release is a respectful nod to Zenith’s legendary calibre and successful designs, a long-awaited and essential timepiece.

the new Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

As anticipated, the new watch is an evolution of the Chronomaster Original, which the brand introduced in 2021. This model, in turn, served as the rejuvenated 38mm El Primero and the heir to the iconic A386. With a diameter of 38mm and a thickness of about 13mm, the stainless steel case of the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar retains the round, bezel-less design that characterised the 1969 model and preserves the essence of its predecessor, with the signature sharp and sloped profile, pump-style chronograph pushers, faceted lugs, and a combination of radial brushed and polished surfaces. The raised and domed sapphire crystal adds a touch of vintage elegance to the overall design. While not overly intricate or complex, the case’s enduring aesthetic is a testament to its timeless appeal, remaining as attractive today as it was half a century ago.

The dial represents a harmonious fusion of elements from the Chronomaster Original and the 1970s triple calendar prototype, achieving a delicate balance between vintage-inspired aesthetics and modern execution, with chronograph registers deviating from the original scales found on the A386 thanks to the upgraded movement and functionality. Embracing the familiar Zenith moon phase with a triple calendar layout, the watch features the weekday aperture above the running seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, the month window positioned above the 60-second counter at 3 o’clock, the date in the customary trapezoid aperture at 4:30, and the 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, integrated with the moon phase indicator.

In keeping with the design of the Chronomaster Original, the tachymeter scale is omitted, and the outermost track is now dedicated to measuring elapsed time in fractions of a second. The innermost track, representing a 100-increment scale, is reminiscent of the A386 dial, serving as a distinctive reminder of the watch’s exceptional timing capabilities, and now it supports the 1/10th of a second, making the complication more legible by utilising both rings.

Zenith presents three captivating Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar variants, each imbued with its unique character. The first variant boasts a silvery white opaline dial base with black sub-dials (panda) and a black 1/100th of a second track. The second variant showcases an opaline slate-grey dial with silvery-white sub-dials and track (a winner), drawing inspiration directly from the prototype. The third variant, reserved for Zenith boutiques, introduces a sunburst olive green dial with silvery-white counters, reflecting a trendy aesthetic. All three variants share faceted rose gold-plated applied baton markers, rose gold tone faceted hands, and a polished disc depicting the moon in a gold-coloured finish. Indices and hour and minute hands are treated with Super-LumiNova SLN C1 for enhanced visibility in low-light conditions. The sub-dials feature a snailed texture, and the calendar indications utilise discs that harmonise with the base dial colours. Notably, the thoughtful arrangement of the sub-dials avoids overlapping, ensuring optimal readability despite the multitude of indications.

Powering the new Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar is the latest El Primero automatic high-frequency calibre 3610, beating at 36,000vph and offering a good 60-hour power reserve. The movement is showcased beneath an exhibition sapphire caseback, revealing an openworked rotor adorned with a Zenith star motif. This design allows a captivating view of the machine-decorated calibre with blued screws and a blued column wheel. The caseback is engraved with the 50m water resistance mention.

For versatility, the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar is available with either a three-link steel bracelet with finishes matching the case or a calfskin strap. The steel bracelet boasts rich satin brushing on its outer components and a mirror finish in its centre. The strap options include black for the panda dial, blue for the slate-grey dial, and green for the boutique edition dial, offering six choices for buyers. The stainless steel Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar on a bracelet is priced at CHF 13,400, while the strap-equipped references will be available for CHF 12,900.

For additional information, please visit zenith-watches.com.

https://monochrome-watches.com/zenith-chronomaster-original-triple-calendar-2024-el-primero-hands-on-review-specs-price/

3 responses

  1. Hi ! a newbie here ! whats does it mean Triple calendar ? Is it a annual calendar ? Is it a perpetual calendar ? or you have to chance the day and the montch each month ??

    Regards

  2. Hard to believe my first high end watch(~ 20 years ago) was a Zenith Chronomaster (triple calendar, SS bracelet) that cost $3000. And I still have it.

    5

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