As Zenith keeps commemorating their 150th anniversary, more and more special editions and novelty timepieces are being released. This time we focus in on the new “El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Tour Auto Edition”.

Video courtesy of: Zenith

And the choice of this particular watch wasn’t just by chance. It was specifically picked as a homage to a development that began 46 years ago, when Zenith released the world’s first integrated chronograph caliber. This movement has managed to accomplish a status that all mechanical movements can only aspire to obtain, as a luxury workhorse. A moniker it has earned by being installed in so many other watch brands that can’t deny the efficiency and reliability of the “El Primero”.


Image courtesy of: Zenith

This year’s edition of the “Tour Auto Optic 2000” will occur from April 24 through April 30, 2017. The Zenith brand became the sponsor in 2015, as another watch manufacture by the name of Hublot was bowing out. And before Hublot had been there, Audemars Piguet was the sponsor. So, this race has already been given “time” by three different horology brands. And each year the race has been held, their sponsors have issued a commemorative special edition timepiece, to mark the occasion.

Video courtesy of: Zenith

The 42mm is made of a brushed finish stainless steel case with a transparent case back, which features a “Tour Auto” logo engraving on its sapphire crystal. There are two push-pieces to activate the chronograph functions, with its setting and winding crown in between. Also was equipped with long lugs for a comfortable wrist fit and a domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides. Water-resistance on this watch can reach up to 100 meters (330 feet).


Image courtesy of: Zenith

Time is exhibited on either a: brushed rhodium grey dial or a slate grey velvet-finish dial; and both are decorated with vertical blue, white, red stripes that is a clear homage to the French flag. We recall that these “Open Tour Auto” races always take place on a new route each year and this year it’s being held in France. There are steel applied hour index markers and a tachymeter scale circling the outer rim of the dial near the bezel. Also features two sub-dials: a 30-minute counter at the 3 o’clock position and a 12-hour counter at the 6 o’clock position.


Image courtesy of: Zenith

The stainless steel and rhodium-plated hands and hour index markers have been filled with a luminescent coating, for an enhanced legibility. And at 11 o’clock we encounter an opening in the dial that reveals some parts of the movement. We’ve seen partially open-worked dials before, but here it was added due to its car theme; and placed there to resemble a “raised car hood”.


Image courtesy of: Zenith

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Open Tour Auto Edition

This “Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Open Tour Auto Edition” (References below) is powered by a self-winding mechanical movement, caliber 4061 with 31 jewels, 282 components and 36,000 vph. Power reserve on this timepiece can last up to 50 hours, when fully wound.


Image courtesy of: Zenith

Mounted to the watch is either a: blue calfskin leather strap with protective rubber lining; or a grey strap decorated with the red, white and blue stripes; while both are secured to the wrist by a stainless-steel triple folding clasp. The version of this watch with the blue strap and brushed rhodium grey dial is a limited edition of only 500 manufactured pieces.


Image courtesy of: Zenith

Ref#: 03.2044.401/01.C746 – brushed rhodium grey dial & blue strap


Image courtesy of: Zenith

Ref#: 03.2046.4061/91.C769 – slate grey velvet-finish dial & grey strap


Image courtesy of: Tour Auto

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Zenith, Chronomaster, El Primero, Tour Auto, Motorsports, Luxury Watches

Written by Mauro Az