While Zenith has paid tribute to many of its emblematic historical references, including gold versions of the A386 in its Chronomaster Revival collection that debuted during the El Primero’s 50th anniversary, a steel re-edition as part of the permanent Zenith collection has long been something that Zenith collectors and chronograph aficionados have been eagerly awaiting.
But beyond a modern reinterpretation of this enduring staple among chronographs, Zenith has gone a step further with the Chronomaster Original, which masterfully retains the singular and enduringly relevant design of the A386 while packing the performance of the 21st-century version of the El Primero boasting 1/10th of a second precision and time measurement.
Upon a first glance, the Chronomaster Original, and the A386 it’s based on, appear nearly identical. The 38mm round bezel-less steel case with a raised and domed crystal, the pump-style chronograph pushers, the faceted lugs, and the mix of radial brushed and polished surfaces throughout are indistinguishable between the past and present models.
The steel bracelet has been reimagined, foregoing the open “ladder” design of the 1960s for solid links that are sumptuously chamfered and decorated in the same fashion as the case.
Undoubtedly, the most visually distinctive design element of the A386 is its dial. Its unique aesthetic language includes the emblematic tri-color chronograph registers in shades of grey and blue, the trapezoid date window at 04:30 and the red chronograph second hand. All these intrinsic parts have been passed down to the Chronomaster Original, with a few subtle updates to match the boost in performance.
The black inner scale surrounding the dial of the A386, once used to calculate time spent working using a 1/100th of an hour time division system, finds a new purpose in the Chronomaster Original, with its 1/10th of a second chronograph hand making a rotation around the dial in 10 seconds, totaling 100 measurable time units.
Substituting the tachymeter scale on the outer circumference on the dial, a 1/10th of a second chronograph scale takes its place, allowing for the measurement and reading of elapsed time in precise fractions of a second.
The Chronomaster Original is equipped with the latest version of the El Primero caliber, dubbed the El Primero 3600. With its high frequency of 5 Hz (36’000 VpH), the movement can precisely offer a true 1/10th of a second indication. Its autonomy has also been rendered more efficient, with an extended power reserve of 60 hours.
Visible through the sapphire display back, the new architecture features a sleeker and more open design, revealing a blue column wheel and open rotor marked with the five-pointed star Zenith.