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Zenith Chronomaster Original: Rebirth of a Legend

Zenith Chronomaster Original: Rebirth of a Legend

Zenith is relaunching its legendary A386 as the Chronomaster Original, giving it a permanent place in the collection. The original Zenith A386 was one of the first stainless-steel watches to be equipped with the El Primero calibre. This was the first automatic chronograph movement to use a high frequency of 5 Hz. Zenith already presented a reinterpretation of this watch in 2019, however this was only available in precious metal. Now, however, we have a series production with a steel case. The new Zenith Chronomaster Original is available in three versions, which differ in terms of their dials, case materials, straps and bracelets.

The history of the Zenith El Primero A386

Although automatic movements became increasingly popular from 1940 onwards, no watch manufacture had yet succeeded in developing a self-winding chronograph. In 1962, Zenith took on the task. However, the innovative calibre was to fulfil even more specifications. It had to be able to measure tenths of a second in order to become the most accurate automatic chronograph of the time. For this, the frequency of the balance had to be 5 Hz, which led to other difficulties. Nevertheless, Zenith succeeded in creating such a movement, which henceforth bore the name El Primero – meaning, of course, “the first”. The Zenith El Primero A386 became the first watch to be equipped with this special movement.

Case & Materials

Zenith Chronomaster Original in Steel

Zenith adheres almost entirely to the lines of the original when it comes to the design of the case. Accordingly, the watch has a stainless-steel case with a diameter of 38 mm and no bezel. This is complemented by pump-style pushers and faceted lugs.

Meanwhile, raised, domed sapphire crystal protects the front. Unlike the Zenith A386, the brand has opted for a visible caseback, which reveals the mechanics within. Last but not least, the El Primero Chronomaster Original has water resistance to 50 m.

Zenith Chronomaster Original in Gold

The two stainless-steel versions are also joined by this piece, which comes with a case made of 18-carat rose gold. The case diameter here is also 38 mm. Apart from the material, however, this case is no different from the other two. For this model, though, Zenith has given it a slightly different dial.


The three versions also come with three different dials. The white dial is the most authentic, as it presents the counters in shades of grey and blue. There is also a black inner scale around the dial, which divides the dial into 100 time units. Similarly, the white tenths of a second scale allows the elapsed time to be read in fractions of a second. For this purpose, Zenith has decided against the blade-shaped chronograph hand of the A386 and included a straight red hand.

The second variation has a “reverse panda” dial and dispenses with coloured counters in favour of the black and white look. In contrast to the above variation, the trapezoidal date window at 4:30 also remains black. The indices and main hands are coated with beige Super-LumiNova, while the chronograph hand shines in white.

The dial of the Chronomaster Original with a gold case has coloured counters on a white background. The indices and main hands are different; here, they are gold-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova. The hands of the subdials also appear in the same shade. Interestingly, the chronograph hand remains red, while the date window between 4 and 5 o’clock is white.

The Movement

While the exterior of the watch is inspired by the historic A386, the interior is equipped with the modern El Primero 3600 calibre, which of course offers the high frequency of 5 Hz, enabling the measurements to a tenth of a second. The manufacture does not skimp on technology either, and employs a blued column wheel to control the chronograph. It also has a power reserve of 60 hours. The movement is visible through the caseback, through which the winding rotor with the Zenith star is directly noticeable.

Bracelets & Straps

The Chronomaster Original with a white dial is available with either a stainless-steel bracelet with a double-folding clasp or a blue calfskin strap with a triple-folding clasp. Similarly, the “reverse panda” version comes with the same stainless-steel bracelet or a beige calfskin strap. The rose-gold case, meanwhile, is only available with a brown calfskin strap with a rose-gold, triple-folding clasp.

Price & Availability of the Zenith Chronomaster Original

The new Zenith Chronomaster Original is now available in Zenith boutiques, at selected jewellers, and on the Zenith website. The two editions with steel bracelets cost 8,800 euros, or 8,300 euros with the leather straps. Finally, the Chronomaster Original in the gold case is available for 18,600 euros.


BRAND Zenith
MODEL Chronomaster Original
REFERENCE White dial:
Black dial:
Gold case:
CASE MATERIAL Stainless steel or 18 carat rose gold
DIMENSIONS Diameter: 38 mm
Height: 12.60 mm
WATER RESISTANCE 5 bar (~50 m)
DIAL White with coloured counters or black with silver counters
Stainless steel bracelet with stainless steel double folding clasp
Blue/brown calfskin strap with stainless steel triple-folding clasp
Gold case:
Brown calfskin strap with rose gold triple-folding clasp
MOVEMENT El Primero 3600
MOVEMENT TYPE Self-winding
FREQUENCY 5 Hz (36,000 vph)
FUNCTIONS Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date
PRICE Steel case, steel bracelet:
EUR 8,800
Steel case, leather strap:
EUR 8,300
Gold case:
EUR 18,600