Recently, Watchadvice did a piece on the revival of the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”. As the story goes, the designs of the “Shadow” timepiece were hidden away in the attic of the Zenith Manufacture By Charles Vermont. Almost like a time capsule created by Charles Vermont in the 1970s Quartz era, many of its secrets are still being uncovered today. More than one discovery was made as the Zenith team were going through the attic last year, which coincidentally also happened to be Zenith El Primero’s 50th anniversary. In the small, unassuming box that was found by the team, contained many dial concepts, which included the Zenith Chronomaster Revival.
Another dial that was found seemed to be a prototype of the signature El Primero tri-colour dial of the A386. The original A386 that was released in 1969 was an iconic timepiece for Zenith. It was arguably one of the first self-winding chronograph models, potentially alongside the Calibre 11 and the Seiko 6139. Roughly 2500 pieces of the original A386 was released between 1969 and 1971. This makes this watch quite sought after as well, as they are hard to come by. Zenith also released the A384 and A385, but the A386 was the only model to feature a tri-colour dial layout.
Before Zenith designed the final tri-colour dial for the A386, they would have created different prototypes featuring different dial colours. This is what they found in the attic of the Zenith Manufacture; a different dial colour configuration of the original A386 dial. No official records were found signifying the designs of these dials, but nonetheless, the prototype models exist. It’s hard to know for sure without any design drawings whether the different colour variation was meant to be an alternative to the original A386 dial or was intended for a different model altogether.
The beauty of the blue tri-colour and the identical design of the original A386 dial compelled the current Zenith watchmakers to bring this prototype to life. Back in 2019, Zenith released the El Primero A386 Revival with the original tri-colour dial of the 1969 timepiece. This new prototype tri-colour blue dial will use the same revival watch, with the addition of the new dial.
What makes this revival timepiece unique, however, is that this piece is part of the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition, which for the A386 is the final version available in the original “Revival” case. Using the blueprints to the unique A386 model, Zenith has kept the details of the Revival piece as faithful to the original as possible, including the 38mm stainless steel casing, pump-style chronograph pushers, faceted lugs, flat bezel and box-shaped sapphire crystal. The Chronomaster Revival “Manufacture Edition” has a white-lacquered dial with rhodium-plated hour markers and like the original, a date window placement at 4:30 position.
The movement beating inside the Chronomaster Revival “Manufacture Edition” is much of the same movement used in the original 1969 A386, with some modern improvements made. The El Primero 400 Automatic keeps the high beat frequency of 36, 000 VpH (5 Hz) and produces a power reserve of approximately 50 hours.
This Manufacture revival edition piece was only ever intended to be an exclusive timepiece, which can only be purchased by visitors of the Zenith Manufacture. However, given the current situation of the pandemic, this is not possible. This is why Zenith is making this Manufacture Edition available on e-commerce, which will give customers a chance to purchase the watch until the Zenith Manufacture is re-opened for public visits and tours. Zeniths new E-commerce website will be gradually introduced to the public, starting with Italy, France and Switzerland in May. The United Kingdom, United States, Spain and Germany will be added to the E-commerce platform shortly after.
The watch comes in a unique package, that mimics a book which can be displayed on a bookshelf. The cover of this book/package features a blueprint of the Zenith Manufacture. Along with the watch, a comic book will be included as well, which draws attention to the portrayal of Charles Vermont by the renowned Swiss cartoonist Cosey. A reproduction of the vintage A386 tri-colour colour dial found in the attic will be included as part of the unique package as well.