In the market for a chronograph? One that can accurately split the seconds? Despite the latest super-chronos unveiled at SIHH 2012, one calibre still stands apart - the El Primero, and the Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Chronograph is such a worthy addition to the series, you'd be horologically unbalanced not to consider it.
Zenith introduced the automatic chronograph El Primero calibre in 1969, and although the brand's design department may have gone aesthetically asunder in the past, most in the industry would agree, Zenith are back where they belong and have produced some of the best classically styled wristwatches unveiled during 2011. Transgressions, aside the brand have always respected, nurtured and refined the El Primero movement and if your wristwatch is powered by one, wear it proud - that's a little piece of horological history right there on your wrist.
The Chronomaster 1969 Chronograph continues the heritage, respecting the colours and styling of the 1969 models. On the dial, midnight blue and anthracite counters rest on a silvered dial, the red sweep seconds chronograph hand has the cool little Zenith star counterweight and faceted hour and minute hands and applied baton hour markers catch the light. The 42mm stainless steel case has vintage rounded pushers for the functions and no excess weight on the front and no unwanted podge on the sides, this is a neat and tidy case and this is a technical and very well behaved gents sports watch.
Of course the eye is immediately drawn to the cutaway section of the dial. This is not merely a look-see feature requiring the skills of a dial-maker, but one which requires re-working of the entire calibre by the brand's Master Watchmakers, otherwise you would be see only the mundane and very dormant base plate.
Inside is the newly developed El Primero Calibre 4061 which beats at a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour and has a power reserve of 50 hours. This is the first El Primero Chronograph to feature a dial opening, so as you'd expect particular attention has been given to the detailing and finishing of its components.
The Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Chronograph comes presented on a rubber-lined black alligator strap with either pin buckle or optional triple folding clasp.
The Zenith El Primero Foudroyante 1/10th Chronograph - the best El Primero Chronograph dial layout? .... you decide.
The Zenith Captain Winsor Annual Calendar - featuring the supremely simple annual calendar module designed by Ludwig Oechslin.