Zenith El Primero A384 Revival Review

by Chamath Gamage
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Earlier this year, during LVMH watch week in Dubai, Zenith released a variety of watches for both ladies and gents. We already looked at the Elite Classic range here. One of the pieces that stood out from this relase was the El Primero A384 Revival watch. The A384 Revival was originally released in 2019, however this year, they have gone back to a full retro look for the watch by releasing it with the exclusive bracelet that the original El Primero A384 made its appearance in. 

In 1969 when the A384 was being designed, Zenith had to come up with a new case layout in order to be able to fit the el primero movement. The Zenith A384, alongside A385 and A386, were the first watches to feature the El Primero movement. Along with new case design, the Swiss watch manufacturer sought to go for a new bracelet design too. This is where the famed Gay Frères specialist company came in, to not only create a bracelet that was unique at the time, but also perfectly compliment the El Primero A384’s avant-garde design. What was created by Gay Frères was an open design bracelet, termed “ladder” bracelet. The bracelet was not only comfortable to wear but also gave it a dressier look compared to the conventional steel and sports bracelets at the time. 

Stainless steel “ladder” bracelet

With the return of this bracelet on the El Primero A384 Revival watch, it goes back to the origins of the timepiece and completing the once retro look it had. 

The design of the Zenith El Primero A384 Revival Watch has tried to stay true to the original piece as much as possible, while using the latest materials and technology to give it the modern finish. The A384 Revival piece has the same dial features, including the three counter layout (30 minutes at 3 o’clock, 12 hour at 6 o’clock and constant seconds at 9 o’clock) along with the date window between 4 and 5 pm. Minute details such as the size and shape of the date window have been kept the same as original, showing how careful Zenith was to keep everything faithful to the original timepiece. 

The A384 comes with a panda dial look, with the counters being done in black against the white lacquer of the dial. The outer ring of the dial which features the tachymeter ring has also been done in black, to emphasise the black and white contrast further. A single touch of colour has been added to the dial, with the chronograph seconds hand being coloured in red. This is a nice effect as it breaks up the two-tone contrast and brings more attention to it. 

A few modern touches are used on the A384 revival watch, which includes the use of modern Super-LumiNova on the hour, minute and chronograph second hands and also the hour indexes. Also differing from the original piece, Sapphire crystal has been used for the dial and case back on the revival.

The gorgeous A384 dial comes housed in a 37mm trapezoidal style case, which measures roughly 12.6mm thick. Much like the original, the stainless steel case on the revival has been given a brushed finish. This finish also matches and compliments the brushed finish on the Gay Frères ladder bracelet nicely. 

The movement inside the Zenith A384 Revival is faithful to the original, with the latest El Primero 400 calibre being used. The El Primero 400 is an in house column-wheel chronograph automatic movement that has the standard 36, 000 VPH frequency of El Primero movements. It is one of the purest forms of the El Primero movements, housing 278 components and coming with a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. It comes with a water resistance of 5 bar (50 meters).

How does it wear?

Even though the case size is 37mm, it surprisingly doesn’t look that small, especially on a 6.5inch wrist. This is thanks to the shape design of the case, which overall makes the watch appear larger. It sits comfortably on the wrist, which is further complemented by the ladder-style bracelet. This bracelet is indeed very stylish compared to its modern compatriots. With hollowed links, it adds less weight to the bracelet as well making it not so bulky and heavy on the wrist. 

The watch can be seen from some distance thanks to the panda style dial. However, most watches these days utilise this design for a noticeable effect. What sets the Zenith A384 and its Revival piece is the combination of the Panda dial along with Gay Frères ladder bracelet design. The watch is the more sporty type. However, this doesn’t mean it can’t be used as a dress piece. The steel finish along with panda dial can complement nicely with most formal attires. Where this piece feels at home though is as an everyday watch—something you can wear to the office, and casual wear. 

The original A384 was only produced between 1969 to 1971, with roughly only 2700 pieces produced. With the revival of this piece in its original iconic ladder bracelet, fans of the original timepiece will have a chance to own a part of Zenith’s history, with a watch that housed the very first El Primero movement.

Zenith El Primero A384 Revival Specification :

Model Reference: 03.A384.400/21.M384
Case Diameter: 37mm
Dial: White-lacquered dial with black-coloured counters
Case-back: Transparent Sapphire Crystal
Movement: El Primero 400 Automatic
Power Reserve: Min. 50 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes and chronograph. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, Tachymetric scale and date indication at 4:30
Water Resistance: 5 ATM / 50 meters

Australian Retail Pricing : $12,200.00

Availability : June/July 2020

Local Authorised Dealers :

  • Brisbane – Hardy Brothers and The Hour Glass
  • Melbourne – Monards (Collins Street and Crown Casino) ,Gregory Jewellers and The Hour Glass
  • Sydney – Hardy Brothers and Swiss Concept
  • Perth – Barbagallo Watch
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