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Zenith launches two jeweled versions of its blockbuster Chronomaster Original, the brand’s retro-inspired chronograph designed to commemorate the groundbreaking Zenith A386 steel El Primero from 1969.

The latest iteration offers the watch with either a multicolored mother-of-pearl dial or taupe tri-color dial, each set with fifty-six diamonds on the lugs. Both steel-cased watches remain 38mm in diameter, enhancing their unisex appeal.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Original, now available set with diamonds and a mother-of-pearl dial.

The model with the tri-color dial exhibits its grey and blue hues rendered in mother-of-pearl. Zenith uses four different colors of mother-of-pearl, including a white mother-of-pearl for the dial, two shades of blue for the chronograph counters and grey mother-of-pearl for the ongoing seconds.

The second version of this latest Chronomaster Original offers three tones of brown in the same signature layout against a satin-white dial. Both dials are set with diamonds for the hour markers.

Zenith pairs both models with soft calfskin leather straps in either light blue or taupe with tone-on-tone stitching to matching the respective dials.

Inside Zenith retains the the El Primero 3600, the latest version of Zenith’s famed high-beat chronograph caliber with column wheel. While the new movement beats at the same high frequency of 5Hz (36,000 vph) as its predecessors, the new generation displays 1/10th of a second chronograph on the dial with the central chronograph hand rotating once every ten seconds. The caliber also now offers a full sixty hours of power reserve.

Prices: $12,800 (brown dial with taupe calfskin leather strap) and $13,000 (blue dial with light blue calfskin leather strap).

 

We continue to highlight a few of our favorite watches from among the more than fifty watchmakers that have created timepieces for the Only Watch charity auction, which commences Saturday, November 6, in Geneva. Christie’s will auction these incredible watches to raise funds that benefit research in the battle against Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.

While you may have seen a few of the watches set for auction earlier this year when Only Watch announced them, we thought you’d enjoy seeing many of these inspired designed again just ahead of the event.

Click here for details about the Only Watch world tour, which begins September 22.

Today, we highlight the offering from Zenith, which has teamed with artist Felipe Pantone for a spectacular special edition of its Defy 21 Double Tourbillon, which here is cased entirely of transparent sapphire crystal ­– a first for any watch in the Zenith Defy collection.

This watch, based on one of Zenith’s most complicated chronographs, is regulated by two independent tourbillons. They operate at five hertz (for the timekeeping function) and fifty hertz (for the 1/100th of a second chronograph). Pantone has transferred his own style to Zenith’s movement’s decoration and the open dial.

As Zenith explains, it has coated the bridges to reflect a gradient of metallic rainbow tones, marking the first time we’ve seen three-dimensional PVD with silicon particles as a surface treatment on a tourbillon chronograph movement. This produces an-eye-catching spectrum of colors. Zenith then fixes its movement within a case given the same rainbow effect. The caseback sports a similar rainbow PVD coating on the bridges, where “Unique Piece” is engraved on one of them under the blackened star-shaped winding rotor.

Pantone then distorts the central hour and minute hands to resemble lightning bolts. Echoing the movement, Zenith applies a rainbow gradient of colors in PVD to the hands, while each of the applied hour markers is filled with a different color. Zenith and Pantone create a crazy moiré optical effect on the dial, produced by thin alternating white and black using fine laser-engraving and precise lacquering techniques.

Finally, Zenith will package the watch in a special box resembling an art book and add an original signed artwork by Felipe Pantone.

Only Watch auction estimate: CHF 180,000 – 220,000.

Zenith began celebrating El Primero’s fiftieth anniversary in 2019 with a series of Revival models. These have included the El Primero A386, A384 and A385 Revival models, among others, up to the most recent Chronomaster Revival Safari. With all these releases, the Le Locle-based watchmaker has kept the Revival series dial and case designs largely true to their historic proportions and, often, their original hues.

But as Zenith admits, none of these Revival models filled a void within its collections for a ongoing, steel-cased Chronomaster El Primero A386 model. Remember that the first A386 Revival from 2019 was cased in gold. And while the hot steel-cased  Chronomaster Sport Zenith debuted early in 2021 has seemingly met the demand for a new, sportier Chronomaster El Primero chronograph, customers in search of a steel-cased, dressier El Primero A386 have been waiting since 2019. 

The new 38mm Zenith Chronomaster Original, here with a steel case and bracelet.

Zenith this week launches the Chronomaster Original to fill that void. The five watches in the new collection (four are steel-cased, one is cased in gold) retain the most identifiable aspects of the much-loved El Primero A386 from 1969, including a 38mm round and bezel-free steel case with a domed crystal, pump-style chronograph pushers, faceted lugs, and brushed and polished surfaces.

Zenith however updates several key elements of the now familiar Chronomaster Revival profile.  First, Zenith replaces the retro 1960s ladder bracelet found on the recent Revival models with a new, richly-finished solid-link bracelet.

Practical scale

More notably however Zenith updates the tachymeter scale, replacing the original 1/100th-of-an-hour calculation scale with a 1/10-of-a-second chronograph scale. This allows instantaneous reading of a 10th of a second using the chronograph seconds hand.

Within the case Zenith fits the primary reason for this change of tachymetric scale : the latest version of the El Primero caliber, dubbed the El Primero 3600. Also found powering the new Zenith Chronomaster Sport (and originally seen in an earlier, very limited Chronomaster 2), the caliber of course retains the El Primero’s signature high frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 VpH).

Thus, with a central chronograph seconds hand that rotates once around the dial in exactly ten seconds,  the movement offers a true 1/10th-of-second indication in conjunction with the new scale. And now that the scale frames the dials of both the Chronomaster Sport and this new Chronomaster Original design,  Zenith now offers two ongoing collections with this most practical utililization of its high-speed El Primero caliber.

In addition to its new application, the new El Primero 3600 features a newly blued column wheel and “new architecture” that Zenith says is more efficient than earlier El Primeros. The new efficiency also influences the caliber’s power reserve, which is now rated to sixty hours.

The new El Primero 3600 caliber offers a 1/10th-of-second-display from the 36,000-VpH escapement as well as an extended power reserve of 60 hours.

Zenith is offering the new Chronomaster Original in three models. One model, sold on a steel bracelet or a blue calfskin strap, features the well-known Chronomaster tri-color dial configuration. Another model features a so-called ‘reverse panda’ black dial with silver chronograph registers and is sold on a steel bracelet or a beige calfskin strap. Intrestingly, these two models use a rhodium-plated central seconds hand rather than the red central seconds hand found on the tri-color dial versions. The third model is cased in gold and features the tri-color dial design. The logo on each new model has been updated to the Zenith’s more contemporary script.

Both steel-bracelet models are priced at $9,000 while both strap models are priced at $8,400. The third model ($19,100), cased in rose gold with a silvered dial and tri-color subdials, is offered on a brown calfskin strap.

  

Zenith’s newest Revival, the Chronomaster Revival Safari, reinterprets the historical Zenith A384 chronograph from 1969, but instead of the original’s 37mm steel case we now have a micro-blasted 37mm titanium case.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Safari

The watch’s deep matte green dial with contrasting black registers and tachymeter scale is new, while the beige SuperLumiNova on the applied baton markers and hands is distinctly vintage.

The rubber strap takes on the same khaki-green tone as the dial, and is fixed to a matte micro-blasted titanium pin buckle. Price: $9,000.

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Safari”

(Reference: 97.T384.400.57.C856, a boutiques & e-commerce edition.)

Movement: El Primero 400 automatic chronograph with column-wheel, frequency of 36,000 Vph (5 Hz), a power reserve of 50 hours. Functions: Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Date indication at 4:30.

Case: 37mm micro-blasted titanium, 50 meters of water resistance

Dial: Khaki green with black counters, tachometer scale, hour-markers and hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with beige SuperLumiNova.

Bracelet: Khaki green “cordura effect” strap and white stitching. Micro blasted titanium pin buckle.

Price: $9,000.

 

 

Zenith expands its Revival collection of retro-inspired releases with the new Chronomaster Revival A3817,  a faithful  reproduction of a 1971 Zenith El Primero chronograph notable for its pyramid-pattern “shark tooth” seconds scale.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival A3817.

The original tonneau-shaped A3817 chronograph, with a three-color dial that mimicked the dials on better-known, round-cased El Primero A386 Zenith revived in 2019 and 2020, has been a design Zenith enthusiasts have long sought at auction. Zenith made only 1,000 of the watches in 1971, which only enhanced their desirability among collectors.

Zenith has built its Chronomaster Revival A3817 using the same 37mm angled tonneau-shaped case (with pump-style pushers) as the original. The watchmaker explains that it utilized original blueprints so it could preserve the watch’s original proportions and finishes.

The new watch echoes its 1971 forebear with a white lacquered dial set with chronograph subdials of grey and blue, with a running seconds counter at 9 o’clock. And of course the dial stands out among Zenith chronographs for its 1970s ‘shark tooth’ seconds track, which Zenith faithfully reproduces. Finally, Zenith includes an outer tachymeter scale, as on the original, that serves as a pulsometer.

The primary technical and aesthetic differences between this homage and the original design are most visible when turning the watch over. There, you’ll see a sapphire caseback instead of a solid steel caseback, allowing a clear view of  the new-generation El Primero 400 high-frequency automatic chronograph caliber.

Zenith offers the Chronomaster Revival A3817 with either a steel “ladder” bracelet that is a modern remake of the Gay Frères bracelets Zenith used in the early 1970s on many of its early El Primero watches, or with a light brown calf leather strap.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival A3817 is priced at $8,400 and is available at Zenith Boutiques as well as on its online shop. The strap version is sold separately for $7,900.

 

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival A3817

(Reference 03.A384.400/3817.M3817)

Movement: El Primero 400 Automatic, 36,000 Vph (5 Hz), Power reserve of 50 hours.

Dial and Functions: White-lacquered with three different-colored counters, hours and minutes in center, small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Tachometric scales, pulsometer scale, date. Hour markers and hand are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with beige SuperLuminova.

Case: 37mm steel, water resistant to 50 meters.

Bracelet: Stainless steel “ladder” bracelet and double folding clasp.

Price: $8,400 (bracelet), $7,900 (strap).  

 

Zenith reinforces its Defy to create Defy Extreme, a new three-model collection that boasts an arsenal of components aimed at protecting the watch’s unusual dual-escapement El Primero 9004 movement from shock and moisture.

The new Defy Extreme extends the ongoing theme of the Defy El Primero 21 collection, a series of skeletonized, often colorful, high-speed (36,000 vph) timekeepers paired with an extra-fast (360,000 vph) chronographs, cased together in highly technical ceramic, titanium, carbon or steel dress.

Three Zenith Defy Extreme models are available. All are cased in sandblasted titanium with blue, black or rose-gold colored plates and matching accents.

With the new collection, Zenith has a true high-impact sport option for Defy fans wary that the existing Defy 21’s two escapements and its contemporary open work design leaves it vulnerable to physical stress and extreme elements.

Essentially, Zenith has toughened Defy’s specifications, starting with the case.

Defy Extreme’s 46mm case size is larger than the 44mm case Zenith uses within the existing Defy El Primero 21 collection. Zenith has reinforced the new case by adding extended pusher protection and a screw-down crown that, when combined with a thicker clear sapphire caseback, doubles the water resistance from the existing Defy rating of 100 meters to 200 meters for the new collection.

The new case is also rife with new angles, edges and lines. Even between the two crystals you’ll find elements that, as Zenith puts it, exude “robustness.”

Most notably, Zenith has a placed a twelve-sided ring just underneath the bezel and on the twelve-sided caseback.  The architectural ring nicely frames the dial while also adding another layer of shock protection to the movement. It serves to remind the wearer that Zenith has built an extra level of security into the Defy Extreme.

Three models

Zenith is making three Defy Extreme models, all cased in micro-blasted titanium. Two matte-finished titanium models (both $18,000) differ with a blue or black-colored mainplate and pusher protectors with matching rotor finishes, while the third model ($22,000) glows with rose gold bezel ring and pusher protectors on the titanium case and rose-gold-hued main plate and accents.

Zenith is supplying each watch with three different straps with quick strap-change mechanisms: A micro-blasted or polished and satin-brushed titanium bracelet, a rubber strap with a folding buckle matching the case and, in a first for Zenith, a Velcro strap that can be easily adjusted.

The El Primero 9004 movement inside the Defy Extreme is equipped with two regulating organs and escapements, one beating at 5Hz for timekeeping, and the other at 50Hz for the chronograph .

 

iW spoke with Zenith CEO Julien Tornare during LVMH Watch Week 2021 in January. He detailed how Zenith developed the hot new Chronomaster Sport and why the watch is an especially important launch as Zenith continues expanding its appeal globally in 2021 and beyond.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Sport.

IW: How important is the Chronomaster collection to the Zenith identity?

Julien Tornare: It is clear that Chronomaster is a key product collection for us. You may remember that in 2017 we launched the new Defy, and not everybody was pleased that we were emphasizing that Defy collection. At the time I had issues with the Chronomaster collection because it was going in too many directions at once. This made some people confused. It had a variety of size, shape, colors, and it was too much of a patchwork.

But Defy was selling well; we have been fortunate. Defy was giving the brand fresh air, exactly what we – with Mr. Biver – wanted at that time. And it gave me time to sit back with my friend Romain Marietta (products development, heritage director at Zenith) and think about the key design elements for Zenith, specifically for Chronomaster. We started to show some new designs in 2019 with the 50th anniversary celebration of the El Primero.

Of course we were scheduled to launch the new Chronomaster Sport this past June. Plus, we were to launch a new classic version later during 2020. So now we are on a slightly delayed schedule.

Are you pleased with the reaction to the new Chronomaster Sport?

We knew that we would bring back an iconic watch with the Chronomaster, which many people were waiting for.  We expected a good reaction, but put the reaction since it was launched has been incredible. We did not expect the enthusiasm to such a great extent.  I am very happy and proud and I congratulate our entire team.

The morning after we launched the new Chronomaster Sport I had messages from all over the world. I had so many retailers I have known call and say they needed this new Chronomaster.

Does the Chronomaster Sport complete the collection?

Now it is very clear what Chronomaster is.  We have the Revival, we have the Chronomaster Sport, and coming up next we’ll have the Classic side. This repositions Chronomaster very clearly for us. Chronomaster for me is the past and present.  And Defy is the present and the future. So they are connected and complementary.

How did you approach development of the Chronomaster Sport?

We looked at three pieces in 2018 to help us design the new Chrono master sport.

The Zenith A277 was made in 1965, four years before El Primero. But you can already see this sporty influence on the new watch, especially with the sporty bezel and a bracelet. Then, a few years after that, we launched the Luka. This was also a big deal for us. Here you see it again the black bezel, the sporty chronograph look, and the same basic bracelet.

And finally, we looked at the Rainbow, which was also very important for us in the 1980s in the 1990s. That case, and again with the sporty bezel, were influential.

Three historic Zenith watches informed the new design.

All three of these watches help us create the new Chronomaster Sport.

Of course we added the Zenith three-color chronograph counters.  We worked on those colors to have them elegant and more beautiful­ – not too flashy.  The blue and the grays are quite light and very slightly shiny.  The watch is 41mm in diameter and 13.6mm thick, so still elegant and not too thick. Easy to wear.

The new El Primero 3600 caliber offers a 1/10th of second display from the 5 Hz (36’000 VpH) escapement, as well as an extended power reserve of 60 hours.

And you used a new movement inside?

Of course, we worked on the movement, which is the El Primero 3600.  The upgrades from the earlier El Primero include the column wheel in blue, which makes it clearly visible.  We added ten hours to the power reserve to reach a total of sixty hours of power reserve.

And for me a real chronograph should be one-tenth of a second, like the El Primero. When you get 36,000 vph, which is 5 Hz, you can measure one-tenth of a second exactly.  With 3 Hz and 4 Hz you measure the one-sixth or the one-eighth of a second, which is not really how we measure any event. And here we really wanted to show off our ability to measure one-tenth of a second.

Zenith can now showcase three different watches with chronograph hands rotating around their dials at three different rotation speeds.

What were the biggest challenges to making the new Chronomaster Sport?

We wanted to keep the identity of our caliber very clear.  I also told Romain that I want it to be most comfortable watch available in the industry.

I still believe that is very important to put any watch on your wrist to see how it feels. I am too often disappointed by the way certain watches feel on your wrist. This new watch is smooth as silk.  It is super easy to wear.

I wanted a very simple way to measure the one-tenth of a second. And with one of the very first samples, like took it home and gave it to my ten-year-old son.  And he looked at it and he could explain how it worked. I wanted this watch to be that easy to read.  On many watches it is easy to get lost, especially if you’re not familiar with watches.

Of course, here we have a counter for the seconds, a counter for the minutes, and the one at 9 o’clock for the small seconds.

Can you tell us more about other 2021 Zenith debuts?

The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385.

Our new brown-dialed A 385 Revival watch is also quite interesting. We have done some research, and it seems that this original watch in 1969 is the first gradient type dial. When we launched the A384 Revival in August 2019 it became immediately a bestseller, in part because of its original 37mm size. 

You might remember that ten or twelve years earlier we had lunched this in a larger size (42mm) which I thought lost the proportions of that original. At 37mm you get perfect proportions.

The new Zenith Pilot Type 20 Silver Chronograph.

Will we see additional sports watches from Zenith?

Yes of course. Overall, we have a Revival, the soon-to-be released Classic, and then the Sport. This is a very clear organization within the Chronomaster collection. There’ll be additional sport variations.

How did you choose the newest Zenith ambassador Aaron Rodgers?

In 2019 I went to the United States several times to meet various possible ambassadors. I was in search of someone who could represent the philosophy of ‘time to reach your stars’ for the Zenith. And I didn’t want a celebrity who would just show up on the red carpet with the watch.  I wanted someone who could talk about his or her story and who could explain what kind of a star he or she has been following over the years to reach an objective. We have done this in China and Japan, and in Europe.

It’s more about the personality. I met actors and singers and other sports celebrities, but when I met Aaron Rodgers I thought he was just a great guy. He’s a good spirit. Nothing to prove anymore.

NFL great Aaron Rodgers is the new Zenith brand ambassador for the U.S.

Can you preview any additional watches for 2021 from Zenith?

We will have the third category of the Chronomaster collection.  This will be about elegance, thinness and an A386 spirit, because Chronomaster would not be complete without that particular offering as well. Also look for a new Defy. That will be an amazing watch also. For the United States that will be a big one. 

And of course we do not forget high complications within the Defy collection. This year we will present some of our iconic high complications – and in a crazy material. This will be in a very small edition and it will include an experience that I can almost guarantee none of the future owners have done in their lives.  It will allow him to really feel what a high complication is in real life.

The new Zenith Defy Urban Jungle.

Will we see new watches for women?

I don’t like to talk about women’s watches particularly at Zenith because we focus on making beautiful, authentic watches with our own movements with our own philosophy, and then make them beautiful. 

We don’t really separate them as men’s watches or women’s watches.  I think we make beautiful watches that can be worn by men and by women. Diamonds are used sometimes yes, and in some parts of the world diamonds are very popular among men, and in some others less. If you look at the Chronomaster Sport, it is a typical 41mm watch that can be worn buy a man or woman.

At Zenith we like to live in a balanced way between the past, present and the future.  Between tradition and innovation. And it is clear that we are gaining market share in terms of vintage.  You just need to follow the recent auctions.  We have launched the Zenith Icons program to great success. Chronomaster Sport is bringing a contemporary dynamic into the collection. This will live perfectly alongside the vintage, or Revival, collection, as well as the more classic directions that you will soon discover.

 

As its first 2021 debut, Zenith launches Chronomaster Sport, an evolution of the bedrock Chronomaster, the Le Locle watchmaker’s most direct link to its historic El Primero automatic chronograph, which debuted in 1969.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Sport.

Already sporty in its historical guise, the new 41mm steel Zenith Chronomaster Sport more directly –and boldly – displays its split-second timing abilities with the added utility of a wide black ceramic bezel etched with 1/10-of-a-second measurement marks.

The new bezel enhances the visibility of the timing function, linked to the El Primero’s 36,000 vph frequency, beyond even the clean black ceramic bezels found on the existing Zenith Chronomaster 2 limited edition references. As far as we’re aware, the new Chronomaster Sport is the only production sport watch that offers a 1/10-of-a-second timing scale linked to its central chronograph hand. When activated, the hand rotates once around the dial in ten seconds.

 

To underscore the robust nature of the new Chronomaster Sport, Zenith here uses the El Primero 3600, the movement Zenith debuted in that earlier Chronomaster 2. The caliber, with a newly blued column wheel and “new architecture,” is more efficient than earlier El Primeros, according to Zenith, and offers a higher power reserve, now rated to sixty hours. Zenith has affixed a new skeletonized rotor to the movement, visible through a clear sapphire caseback.

The new El Primero 3600 caliber offers a 1/10th of second display from the 5 Hz (36,000 VpH) escapement, as well as an extended power reserve of 60 hours.

The new dial

In addition to adding a wide ceramic bezel with 1/10-of-a-second scale to the front side of the new Chronomaster Sport, Zenith has also enhanced the collection’s dial and bracelet to differentiate it from previous Chronomaster offerings.

Both dial options, matte white and black, appear to contrast more starkly with the three subdials. The steel case, with familiar pump-style pushers, now links to an integrated steel bracelet similar to those conceived by Gay Frères, which has historically supplied many of Zenith’s metal bracelets. Zenith also offers a sharp-looking blue or black rubber strap option with a steel deployant buckle.

As noted, Zenith is offering the Chronomaster Sport with either a white dial or black dial in two references.  Whether the black or matte white dial, both with signature El Primero tri-color chronograph registers are blue, anthracite and light grey, each graduated to sixty.

Price: $10,000 (steel bracelet) and $9,500 (strap)

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Sport

Movement: Zenith El Primero 3600 automatic, frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz), power-reserve of 60 hours.  Functions: Hours and minutes in the center. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, 1/10th of a second Chronograph. Central chronograph hand that makes one turn in 10 seconds, 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, 60-second counter at 3 o’clock.

Case: 41 mm stainless steel with black ceramic bezel, water-resistance to 100 meters.

Dial: White or black matte dial with three different applied colored counters, hour-markers and hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLumiNova

Bracelet: Steel, blue or black rubber bracelet. Double folding clasp with security mechanism. 

Price: $10,000 (steel bracelet) and $9,500 (strap)

 

Zenith reaches back to 1969 once again with its latest Revival debut, the Chronomaster Revival A385, a near-exact 37mm reproduction of the original El Primero chronograph from 1969.

The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385.

As one of very first automatic chronographs, and the very first operating at a high frequency of 36,000 vph, Zenith’s A385 debuted alongside the Zenith A384 and A386. The A385 was notable for its smoked brown gradient pattern, which Zenith revives on this new release.

To accurately echo the original, Zenith says it conducted a “reverse engineering” of the 1969 watch to create the new model. As a result, each part of the A385’s 37mm tonneau-shaped stainless-steel case (even its pump-style pushers) mimics the original. The only differences here are the domed sapphire crystal, which replaces an acrylic version, and a clear sapphire back that replaces instead the original’s closed solid steel caseback.

Marketing materials for the 1969-1970 Zenith El Primeo launches.

The clear back offers a view of the newer El Primero caliber, Zenith’s 400 chronograph movement with column-wheel, that powers the watch.

Smoking Dial

But it’s the dial here that draws eyes, and Zenith has nailed the attractive brown gradient dial, which notably features a vignette effect that blackens towards the edges. This colorful slight of hand appears to deepen the dial, mimicking the light-bending effect of a domed crystal, but without the dome.

To further deepen the nostalgia, Zenith adds the same red chronograph central second hand and silvery-white chronograph counters found on the original model.

Zenith offers the Chronomaster Revival A385 in two options. One is equipped with a steel “ladder” bracelet, a modern remake of the Gay Frères bracelets Zenith utilized on those original models. The second option is a light brown calf leather strap that will develop a patina over time.The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385 is available at Zenith Boutiques and online shop, as well as at authorized retailers. 

Price: $7,900 (leather strap) and 8,400 CHF (approximately $9,500) for steel bracelet model.

 

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385

Reference: 03.A384.400/385.M385 (steel bracelet), Reference: 03.A384.400/385.C855 (calf leather strap)

Case: 37mm steel with sapphire back, 50 meters water resistance.

Movement: El Primero 400 automatic column-wheel chronograph with 36,000 Vph (5 Hz), power-reserve of 50 hours.

Functions: Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at 9 o’clock. Chronograph: Central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Tachometric scale. Date indication at 4:30.

Dial: Smoked brown gradient dial with white-colored counters. Rhodium-plated, faceted hour markers and hands, coated with beige Super-LumiNova.

Bracelet: “Ladder” bracelet with stainless steel double folding clasp, or light brown calf leather strap with protective rubber lining and a stainless-steel pin buckle.

Price: $7,900 (leather strap) and 8,400 CHF (approximately $9,500) for steel bracelet model.

 

Zenith continues to place its Defy collection on the cutting edge of high-end, serially produced horology with the addition of the Defy Classic Carbon, which finds the automatic Zenith Defy Classic cased in solid carbon fiber and connected to the wrist with a fully integrated carbon fiber bracelet.

The new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon.

The carbon fiber packaging means that the new model weighs a wispy sixty-five grams, about half the weight of an equivalent 41mm Defy Classic with a titanium case and bracelet. Like other Defy Classic models, Zenith fits the watch with its Elite skeletonized movement with a silicon escape wheel and lever.

While carbon fiber is not unheard of today as a case material in high-end watchmaking, the addition of a carbon fiber bracelet is rare and seen only on pricey, extremely limited editions such as Bulgari minute repeater or a Richard Mille offering.

Zenith explains that the new bracelet required new expertise at cutting, molding and milling the carbon fiber so that it highlights its layers, known technically as strata. The Le Locle watchmaker is touting this knowledge as another aspect of its ability to create serially produced watches infused with new materials (at least within watchmaking) and avant-garde techniques.  

Unexpected

The lightness and the marbled, layered look of a carbon fiber bracelet looks unusual and feels unexpectedly light on the wrist, especially when it clasps a highly complicated automatic watch. While I haven’t worn the new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon, my experience briefly wearing Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon in 2018 was educational in this regard.   

The material is warmer and almost friction-free on the skin, quite unlike the sensation when wearing a steel watch or a gold watch. As an added bonus, the layering of the carbon fiber within such construction results in a different visible pattern every time. As a result, each Zenith Defy Classic Carbon will exhibit a unique appearance.

Zenith has created an all-carbon bracelet with carbon clasp for the new watch.

Zenith also offers a black rubber strap with a carbon and titanium folding buckle for those who prefer a more familiar attachment to their watch. While the price difference between the rubber strap and the carbon fiber strap is high, only one model will suffice for those in search of the truly unusual, and potentially ground-breaking, with their haute horology.

The Zenith Defy Classic Carbon with carbon bracelet is price at $19,500. The model with the black rubber strap is priced at $11,600.

 

Specifications: Zenith Defy Classic Carbon

References: 10.9001.670/80.M9001 (carbon bracelet) and 10.9000.670/80.R795 (rubber bracelet)

Movement: Zenith Elite 670 SK, automatic, 28,800 VpH, 48-hour power reserve, special oscillating weight with satin-brushed finish.

Case: 41mm carbon with sapphire caseback, water resistant to 100 meters, 65-gram total weight (watch with carbon bracelet).

Dial and functions: Openworked with hours and minutes in the center, central seconds hand, date at 6 o’clock, hour-markers and hands ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C3.

Bracelet: Full carbon. Also available on rubber bracelet, with carbon folding buckle.