Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” Review

by Chamath Gamage
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The Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”, a timepiece clouded in such mystery that its existence was all but forgotten, until recently. The story behind this timepiece goes back to 1970, where after the iconic El Primero movement was produced by Zenith, the manufacture also produced a prototype for a manual winding chronograph. This chronograph model was housed in a blackened steel case, which was quite rare during the ’70s. The manufacture produced only a handful of these concepts, with the watch never making it into full production. 

Soon after, the quartz crisis hit, which forced Zenith’s El Primero savior Charles Vermont to store all the plans and designs for mechanical watches including El Primero designs in a secret walled off attic in the manufacture. Just imagine though, if this beautiful all-black timepiece was never to be uncovered by the manufacture! 

Luckily this wasn’t the case, as in 2019 when Zenith began celebrating their 50th anniversary of the El Primero Chronograph caliber, the team at the manufacture decided to go through all the plans, designs, and parts that they found in the secret attic. Among the numerous items hidden away, was a box that contained the original prototype of this special black chronograph model. A model that hasn’t been seen by anyone since the early 1970s. 

The Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” project is a remake of the original 1970 model. Zenith, however, decided that instead of faithfully reproducing a replica of the original concept, they would instead opt to re-imagine what the timepiece could have been had it been produced for the public. 

Case:

Zenith has given the Shadow the 37mm case that was released last year for the faithful reproduction of the first watch fitted with El Primero movement: the A384. This casing has been designed with the same specs as the original A384 released in 1969. The case features an angular and tonneau shape with sharp and refined edges. 

While the dial certainly does stand out, the case finishing is a major highlight to this timepiece as well. Instead of having the traditional choice of stainless steel with a superficial layer of black coating, Zenith has decided to use micro-blasted Titanium. By going down this route, it gives the case a dark grey matte finish, while also being incredibly lightweight and highly durable. The matte finish means that it won’t reflect much light, giving it a certain appeal against the contrasting dial. 

The case is rated to 50m (5 bar) water resistance. The 37mm case seems like a great size for a chronograph and will certainly appeal to watch buyers as more people nowadays prefer to wear a little smaller on the wrist. Even though the lugs aren’t curved in for a snug fit, with a 37mm case size, wear-ability certainly won’t be an issue. Like the casing, the chronograph pushers and crown have also been done with a matte grey finish. 

Dial:

The Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow has a black and white look throughout the watch. The dial shows this to a complete extent with a perfect contrast being shown. 

Zenith has stayed faithful to the original concept plan of the 1970 model. Even though it’s a chronograph, Zenith has tried to keep the dial less busy as possible. They have removed the 3 o’clock and 9 o’clock hour markers, which if added, would intrude with the sub-counters. 

The minute track has also been removed, which is actually a nice touch and certainly opens up the space between the hour markers. This also allows the tachymeter scale on the outer part of the dial to be highlighted more. The hour, minute, and chronograph seconds hand has been kept to the concept design. The hands and applied rhodium-plated rectangular hour markers have been filled with white SuperLuminova, which emits a bright green glow in the dark effect. 

Zenith’s Chronomaster Revival Shadow comes with three sub-counters. These sub-counters are greyed out in the same tone that the tachymeter scale on the outer ring of the dial is done in. The counter’s themselves include a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and constant seconds counter at 9 o’clock. In keeping with the high-contrast theme, the markers and hands on the sub-counters are done in the same white tone as the SuperLuminova material on the hour indexes and hands. Another important factor is the exclusion of the date window. Zenith wanted to keep the dial relatively simple and having purely a chronograph feature with time, which they achieved with high-contrast. 

Movement:

Inside the Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow is of course the iconic El Primero movement. Unlike the 1970 concept version on which this watch is based, Zenith has opted to not use the manual-winding chronograph movement and instead, use the modern-day automatic El Primero 4061 movement. 

The El Primero 4061 movement stands out as being a fully integrated movement, and for having a very high beat frequency of 36, 000 Vph (5 Hz). The 4061 movement gives out a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. This movement has remained relatively unchanged since its inception in 1969 bar modern updates with materials and technology. There are not many movements out on the watch industry that can say their movements have been in continuous production and relatively unchanged for the last 50+ years.

The Zenith Choronomaster Revival Shadow comes with an open case back in which the El Primero 4061 movement can be seen. Zenith has hollowed out much of the rotor so that more of the movement underneath can be seen. The 4061 movement comes with updates such as silicon lever and silicon escape wheel. 

How does it wear?

For a case size of just 37mm and thickness of just over 11mm, Shadow wears great on a 6.5inch wrist. I was pleasantly surprised by how well this watch wears. Traditionally you would think a watch-sized at 37mm would be smaller on a 6.5inch wrist, but thanks to its case design ( no bezel and the sharp-shaped lugs) the Chornomaster Revival Shadow wears more like a 40mm watch.

When I first saw the press photos of the shadow back in April, I fell in love with the micro-blasted titanium case. With much anticipation, I waited patiently to receive the watch for a review. Safe to say after two months of wearing it sparingly, I still love the micro-blasted titanium!

During my time with the Watch, I found it to be is super comfortable on the wrist. The black cloth sail strap (inner leather) works well with the overall look of the shadow. As mentioned earlier, the dial is not cluttered by any means and time can be read easily. Chronograph pushers work seamlessly and the screw-down crown is easy to use to set the time. I love symmetry, and I think this watch has been executed superbly. 

Having no date window as well makes the dial less cluttered and well balanced with the three counters. As the name suggests (Shadow), this watch goes under the radar, but, enough to grab attention from watch collectors. During my time with the watch, when I wore this in public, I have received numerous comments on the watch, commonly asking what material is the case?! The only issue I had with the shadow was that I had a hard time putting it down and made all my other watches sit in a safe. I strongly think this will be a perfect candidate for a daily beater. If you are in the market for something different that pays tribute to an icon and if your wrist size is up to 7inches you can pull this off quite easily. Over 7inchs however, you may find this watch in the smaller size.

The Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow certainly has the monochrome look down pat, with its matte grey casing down to the high contrast black and white dial. A watch with deep history, Zenith has brought to life a timepiece that was only just a dream back in 1970.

Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” Specification :

Model Reference: 97.T384.4061/21.C822
Case Diameter: 37mm – Microblasted Titanium
Dial: Black and Grey
Case-back: Transparent Sapphire Crystal
Movement: El Primero 4061 Automatic
Power Reserve: Min. 50 hours
Functions: Hours, minutes and chronograph. Small seconds at 9 o’clock and Tachymetric scale
Water Resistance: 5 ATM / 50 meters

Australian Retail Pricing : $11,400.00

Availability: Available now

Local Authorised Dealers :

  • Brisbane – 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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