After having brought back the A384 and A386 for the 50th anniversary of the El Primero in 2019, Zenith has finally remade the last of the three original, 1969 El Primero chronographs. Like the earlier two re-editions, the Chronomaster Revival A385 is faithful to the original, retaining both the proportions of the case and dial – while also boasting a historically-correct movement, an accomplishment exclusive to Zenith since its never stopped making the calibre.
As it was with the vintage originals, the A385 remake has the same the tonneau-shaped case found on the A384, but stands out with its smoked dial finish, a defining feature of the original, which also has a cool backstory. In 1970, an original A385 was fastened to the landing gear of a Boeing 707 operated by Air France on a flight from Paris to New York – and the watch kept perfect time on landing.
Being a spot-on reissue means the A385 is unimaginative, but that precisely what makes it appealing. In fact, it’s difficult to not like the watch, which retains all of the qualities of the original – from design to landmark movement – while being reasonably priced, as Zenith watches most often are.
And the icing on the cake is the dial finish, a warm tone sets it apart from the many El Primero re-editions, most of which are dressed in plainer colours. The smoked, coffee-colour dial also evokes the faded, “tropical” look desired on some vintage watches. While “tropical” dials have been remade frequently by many brands, amongst them Longines and Panerai, it’s uncommon for Zenith.
Starting at US$7,700 for the version on a strap, the A385 is in line with Zenith’s other El Primero chronographs, which are honestly-priced in the first place. And for an additional US$500 you get a steel bracelet modelled on the vintage “ladder” bracelet made by Gay Frères that is synonymous with the vintage El Primero. Not only does the bracelet replicate the look, it is also lightweight and slightly dinky, as the original was.
Details done right
Zenith has become proficient in faithful vintage remakes, partly by relying on technical drawings for the vintage originals.
The 37 mm case of the A385 is practically identical to the original, right down to the radial brushed finish on the front. Zenith got most of the details right, though the watch has a modern presence with a solid construction and neater finishing. The crystal is now scratch-resistant sapphire, while the case back has a porthole in the centre to show off the movement – the El Primero 400, a gently upgraded version of the original launched in 1969.
Perhaps the most striking amongst El Primero remakes, the dial is similarly faithful to the original, though not quite identical. In photo at least, the dial colour appears more caramel than the original, which has more grey undertones.
Key facts and price
Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385
Ref. 03.A384.400/385.C855 (strap)
Ref. 03.A384.400/385.M385 (bracelet)
Diameter: 37 mm
Material: Stainless steel
Water resistance: 50 m
Movement: El Primero 400
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date, and chronograph
Frequency: 36,000 beats per hour (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours
Strap: Leather strap with pin buckle or “ladder” bracelet
Limited edition: No
Availability: At Zenith boutiques, retailers, and online shop
Strap – US$7,700; or S$11,600
Bracelet – US$ 8,200; or S$12,400
For more, visit Zenith-watches.com.
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