To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the “El Primero” movement, Zenith is reissuing a nearly exact replica of the original version, which debuted back in 1969. This timepiece will be part of a limited edition box-set that will included two other watches, while also leaving room for the future. This new “Zenith El Primero A386 Revival” is a wish come true for many true horologists, yearning for a piece of history.

Video courtesy of: Zenith

As aforementioned the “El Primero” movement debuted back in 1969 and has never ceased to evolve since its invention, inspiring new creations and becoming an archetype prized by connoisseurs. Until now Zenith had never reissued a faithful version to their original model. But, after half a century they have finally included a perfect re-edition of the “1969 El Primero Chronograph” in the first compartment of this anniversary box-set.


To recreate the most accurate chronograph in the world (which is the only one capable of measuring short times to 1/10th of a second), Zenith’s engineers and designers went thru a reverse engineering process. An authentic copy of the brand’s museum was entirely laser-scanned to restore each component. The only differences were swapping the original solid case back for an exhibition case back, which allows to view the inner workings of this historic movement; plus an updated crown logo.

Zenith-El-Primero-Revivial- CASE-Back

Zenith has even added an actual die of the chronograph’s coupling-wheel bridge, which is one of the most emblematic components of the El Primero movement. This die is actually an invitation to the limited edition purchasers to visit the Manufacture in Le Locle, where they’d get two hand-stamped coupling-wheel bridges. One will be on the purchaser’s box; while the other will be engraved alongside their name and placed as a historical testimony on the entrance wall of the famous attic chosen by Charles Vermont.


It is quite a prestigious and unique honor to have one’s name engraved at the official Zenith factory, especially in this historic attic. Let us remind you that Charles Vermont was the Zenith watchmaker who saved the essential elements to produce the El Primero calibre from destruction by secretly keeping them in that same attic, during the quartz crisis in the early 1970’s. If it were not for him the El Primero renaissance, which began in 1984 may have not been possible.

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Charles Vermont * Image courtesy of: Zenith

The 38mm case is made of stainless-steel and features all of the original models curves and finishing touches. They have preserved the case bands and the distinctive lugs, which have been a mainstay on this model throughout most of its iterations. It also comes equipped with two mushroom-style push-pieces to operate the chronograph functions.


As aforementioned it is a faithful reproduction, except for the exhibition case back and updated setting-crown logo. Zenith has also swapped the Plexiglas for a sapphire crystal, but it is still domed like on the original. Water-resistance on this watch is capable of reaching up to 100 meters (330 feet).

Zenith-50-Years-of-El-Primero-Anniversary-Set-El-Primero-A386-Revival- Crown

Time is exhibited on a white dial with still applied hour index markers, followed by small black printed seconds and minute markers. Subsequently there are two rings reaching out towards the inner flange: a black ring with white minute index marker, with Arabic numerals for every 5-minute increment; followed by a white tachymeter scale with black numerals. There is also a date aperture between the 4 and 5 o’clock positions.


It also includes three sub-dials with the signature “El Primero” blue, grey and silver hues: a 30-minute counter at the 3 o’clock position in blue; a 12-hour counter at the 6 o’clock position in grey; and a sub-seconds at the 9 o’clock position in silver. The central hour/minutes baton-style hands and syringe red seconds/chronograph hand are all also faithful reproductions of the original A386.

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Zenith El Primero A386 Revival

The “Zenith El Primero A386 Revival” (Ref#: 03.A386.400.69.C815) is powered by the self-winding automatic in-house mechanical movement, caliber El Primero 400 with 31 jewels, 278 components and 36,000 vph. Power reserve on this timepiece can last up to 50 hours, when fully wound.


Zenith caliber El Primero 400

This is a current version of the El Primero column-wheel chronograph movement with several updates compared to the original 1969 model, which came with caliber 3019 PHC that placed the date window at the 4 o’clock position.


Zenith caliber 3019 PHC

Mounted to the watch is a black leather strap, secured to the wrist by a stainless-steel buckle. This watch is not sold separately, it is part of a limited edition box-set of only 50 manufactured series. For more up to date information visit the official Zenith website here.

MSRP: $50,000.00 USD

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Zenith, El Primero, A386, Revival, Anniversary, Luxury Watches

Written by Mauro Az