Zenith Introduces the El Primero A386 Phillips Limited Edition

A retro pair.

In a first for watchmaking, an establishment watchmaker has collaborated with an auctioneer in creating a pair of limited edition wristwatches, resulting in the El Primero A386 designed by Phillips.

The tie-up has resulted in a pair of watches, one in steel with a “tropical” dial, and the other in striking black and gold – with the total number made being just 69, a nod to the year of the El Primero’s launch. The two watches are actually part of the same creative process that spawned the platinum El Primero A386 One-Off that will soon be sold for charity.

Aurel Bacs and Alex Ghotbi of Phillips were responsible for conceiving the look of both watches. According to Phillips, the duo imagined being designers of the brand-new El Primero in 1969, rather than looking back from today and creating a modern remake.

The yellow gold El Primero is consequently a combination that was common back in the day – think Rolex Daytona “John Player Special” though never produced by Zenith.

And the steel version is not actually a “tropical” dial, rather it is a reference to the brown colours fashionable in design and apparel during the 1960s. Hence it has its sub-dials in three shades of brown, a riff on the “tricolour” registers of the original A386.

And the steel watch comes with a bonus: a steel “ladder” bracelet with straight end links that’s a replica of the same found on the original A386.

Key facts and price

El Primero A386 Phillips Limited Edition
Ref. 30.P386.400/27.C841 (yellow gold)
Ref. 03.P386.400/07.C840 (steel)

Diameter: 38mm
Height: 12.6mm
Material: 18k yellow gold or stainless steel
Water resistance: 50m

Movement: El Primero 400
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph, date
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Calfskin with pin buckle, additional steel bracelet for steel model

Limited edition: 49 in steel, 20 in 18k gold
 Only at Phillips
Price: 9,900 Swiss francs in steel, and 19,900 francs in gold

For more information, visit Phillips.com.

Correction November 28, 2019: The price of the watch in steel and gold is 9,900 and 19,000 Swiss francs respectively, and not 8,000 and 20,000 Swiss francs as stated in an earlier version of the article.

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Introducing the Winners of the 2019 Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève

The year's highlights.

This year’s GPHG saw a total of no less than 196 watches entered into the running for one of the night’s awards. The jury, presided over by Aurel Bacs, then pre-selected 84 models, divided into 14 categories. The latter included four new awards – the Iconic Watch, Diver’s Watch, Calendar and Astronomy and Horological Revelation.

The outcome is similar to last year’s, with a strong ratio of independents among the winners. Out of 18 watch awards, eight were awarded to independents including Kudoke (Petite Aiguille), Ming (Horological Revelation) and newcomer Genus, (Mechanical Exception), while virtuoso watchmaker Voutilainen scooped two awards (Men’s Watch and Artistic Crafts).

The biggest winner of the evening was Audemars Piguet who took home three awards including the top prize – the Aiguille d’Or – for its Royal Oak Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin.

The watch is the world’s thinnest automatic perpetual calendar at just 6.3mm in height, achieved primarily by using a modified ultra-thin cal. 2120 as a base with a smartly designed perpetual calendar module on top that has an integrated end-of-month cam on the date wheel and a 48-month wheel with a novel geometry.

Elsewhere, having lost to Genus in the Mechanical Exception category, Vacheron Constantin clinched the Innovation award with its Traditionnelle Twin Beat Perpetual Calendar. The watch addresses the problem of having to reset a perpetual calendar that has lain dormant. It utilises two balances oscillating at a frequency of 5Hz and 1.2Hz respectively. In active mode (5Hz), the watch runs as usual with a four-day power reserve, while in standby mode (1.2Hz), the watch receives just enough energy to keep the calendar indications running for up to 65 days, thanks to a differential on top of the barrels that allow them to unwind at two speeds.

The complete list of winners are as follows:

  • Aiguille d’Or: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak Selfwinding Perpetual Calendar Ultra-Thin
  • Ladies’ Watch: Chanel J12 Calibre 12.1
  • Ladies’ Complication: MB&F Legacy Machine FlyingT
  • Men’s Watch: Voutilainen 28ti
  • Men’s Complication: Audemars Piguet Code 11.59 Minute Repeater Supersonnerie
  • Iconic Watch: Audemars Piguet Royal Oak “Jumbo” Extra-thin
  • Chronometry: Chronométrie Ferdinand Berthoud Carburised steel regulator
  • Calendar and Astronomy Watch: Hermès Arceau L’heure de la lune
  • Mechanical Exception: Genus GNS1.2
  • Chronograph: Bvlgari Octo Finissimo Chronograph GMT Automatic
  • Diver’s Watch: Seiko Prospex LX line diver’s
  • Jewellery Watch: Bulgari Serpenti Misteriosi Romani
  • Artistic Crafts: Voutilainen Starry Night Vine
  • Petite Aiguille: Kudoke 2
  • Challenge Watch: Tudor Black Bay P01
  • Innovation: Vacheron Constantin Traditionnelle Twin Beat perpetual calendar
  • Audacity: Urwerk AMC
  • Horological Revelation: Ming 17.06 Copper
  • Special Jury Prize: Luc Pettavino, Founder and Organiser of Only Watch

For more, visit GPHG.org.


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