Zenith Introduces the Chronomaster Revival A3817

Tri-colour in tonneau.

Having remade its most famous vintage El Primero chronographs, namely the A384, A385 and A386, Zenith is now turning to a more obscure corner of its archives to bring back the El Primero A3817. Best described as a tri-colour A386 dial within the A384 tonneau case, the A3817 released in 1971 as a limited run of 1,000 watches, making one of the rarest vintage first-generation El Primero models.

Like Zenith’s other remakes, the modern-day Chronomaster Revival A3817 stays true to its vintage inspiration in dimensions, design, and movement.

Initial thoughts

The A3817 has always been one of my favourite El Primero models. I’m surprised it took as long as it did for Zenith to reintroduce the A3817, but glad that it did.

Zenith is one of the best in the business when it comes to vintage reissues – evidenced by the remakes released for the 50th anniversary of the El Primero in 2019, as well as reinterpretations like the Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”.

In the same vein, the Chronomaster Revival A3817 remains faithful to the original. In many ways, the vintage A3817 represented the best of the iconic 1969 El Primero models, merging the tonneau case with the striking tri-colour dial.

Like the earlier remakes, the A3817 was revived by examining historical blueprints and reverse engineering vintage examples. Consequently, the remake is spot on in reproducing the look and feel of the original. The case is the same diameter and finished identically, and the dial is a dead ringer for the original. That said, the faux-vintage beige Super-Luminova on the dial comes across as a tad affected.

At US$8,400 on the “ladder” bracelet and a bit less on the strap, the Chronomaster Revival A3817 costs US$200 more than the A384 and A385 remakes.

That’s a small premium given the tri-colour dial, which makes the A3817 remake the El Primero in the current line up, at least within the Revival collection. It’s earned a spot on my wishlist, that’s for sure.

Tri-colour in Tonneau

Though the tri-colour sub-dials are its calling card, the A3817 actually features several details that separate it from other Zenith chronographs with the same sub-dial style.

For one, the running seconds counter at nine o’clock has its scale and hand in blue, which differentiate it from the chronograph sub-dials that have the same in white.

More obviously, the chronograph seconds track on the perimeter of the dial is repeating pyramid, or “shark tooth”, scale.

The “shark tooth” scale is made up of 300 lines, allowing for measurement of elapsed times with resolution of up to 1/10th of a second, as the seconds hand can be stopped on either a hashmark or in-between two of them, with each representing a 1/10 of a second step. That’s made possible by the high-frequency El Primero movement that beats at 36,000 beats per hour, or 5 Hz, which 600 beats per minute.

Lastly, the dial features a double scale on its outermost edge, both a tachymeter and pulsometer, which can measure speed over 1,000 km or a pulse rate respectively. This double scale makes the A3817 unique amongst Zenith’s remakes.

The rest of the watch sticks just as closely to the original. The case has the same 37 mm diameter, and is slightly taller than its progenitor at 12.6 mm due to the display back. Even the case finishing is retained, including the polished faceted sides and lugs, along with the all-important radial brushing on the bezel.

Powering the watch is the El Primero 400, which is almost identical to movement inside the vintage original. While fundamentally the same, the calibre has been gently upgraded over the years to be slightly more robust and easier to service. And as is the case with Zenith’s other remakes, the A3817 is available on a “ladder” bracelet, a replica of the Gay Frères bracelet offered with the original.

Key facts and price

Zenith Chronomaster Revival A3817
Ref. 03.A384.400/3817.C855 (strap)
Ref. 03.A384.400/3817.M3817 (bracelet)

Diameter: 37 mm
Height: 12.6 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)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Leather strap with pin buckle or “ladder” bracelet

Limited edition: No
Availability: At Zenith boutiques and online shop
Strap – US$7,900
Bracelet – US$ 8,400

For more, visit Zenith-watches.com.



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Hands-On: Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium

Good looks and a smoked blue dial.

Launched just earlier in the year, the Longines Avigation BigEye in titanium is a follow up to the original, which was historically faithful in terms of the design. The new titanium version, however, is more compelling.

The titanium BigEye retains the same design, but gets a new look with the blue dial and titanium case. Both substantially change its look and feel for the better, while retaining the usual affordability of Longines’ many remakes.

Initial thoughts

The new Avigation BigEye departs from the typical Longines formula for remakes, which to faithfully reproduce as far as possible, right down to the spotting on old dials. In contrast, the Avigation BigEye in titanium preserves the design of the remake, but renders the dial in a clearly modern texture and colour. And of course the case is titanium.

Notably, the new Avigation BigEye, along with other recent remakes like the Legend Diver in bronze, appear to mark a shift in Longines’ strategy for its historically-inspired watches. Instead of concentrating merely on one-for-one replicas, Longines is making them more interesting with modern colours and materials.

That’s a good thing, especially given the obvious fact that Longines’ designers have shown themselves to possess a good eye. They manage to tweak existing designs while preserving the spirit of the original, as demonstrated by the BigEye in titanium.

The result is a lightweight, and good looking watch. It does have the shortcomings of the steel version, namely the largish case and confusing minute register, but it is an appealing watch.

Granted, smoked blue is a fashionable dial finish today, but it still manages to stand out in combining a vintage design with this colour.

The design, dial finish, case material, and affordability makes it a strong buy. At a bit over US$3,200, the titanium model costs US$600 more than its steel counterpart, and is worth it.

Grained, smoked blue

The original Avigation BigEye is an old-school pilot’s chronograph with a black dial and large Arabic numerals. For someone who already watches in the same genre, the original doesn’t do much much differently.

That said, the remake’s dial stands out for its good proportions – the sub-dials are sized and spaced just right. That was true for the steel version and also on this titanium model.

But the BigEye in titanium stands out with its colour. The dial is a bright blue in the centre that darkens towards the edges, a finish variously known as fumé or dégradé that’s something of a fad now. Though not unique, it remains attractive, especially here where it’s matched with black registers that echo the dark edges.

Also notable is the surface: the dial has a granular finish, instead of the sunburst brushing that’s more common with a smoked finish. The finish goes well with the colour and semi-vintage style.

But the use of faux-vintage “lume” is questionable. The colours are clearly modern, so the parchment Super-Luminova on the dial and hands are out of place. In fact, the original steel model used Super-Luminova in its natural greenish-white colour, which would have worked better here.

The other shortcoming is the minute register at three o’clock. As on the vintage original, the hashmarks are graduated in segments of three minutes. Though the scale stays true to the historical inspiration, it is difficult to read being less intuitive than the conventional five-minute graduation.


The BigEye in titanium is sized like the steel version, which means it’s biggish and feels that way. A slightly smaller case would have been helpful, but the size is probably as small as it can be given the movement within, and the need to preserve the balance and proportions of the dial.

The case isn’t excessively large at 41 mm in diameter and 14.5 mm high, but the narrow bezel makes the dial look wider while the lugs are fairly long. At the same time, the domed crystal accentuates the height.

The case has good details given its simple form. The case middle is entirely brushed, but the thin, stepped bezel is polished, as are the crown and pushers. This gives the case some texture, preventing it from looking plain.

A screw-down case back with a retro airplane logo hides the L688 movement within. It is a variant of the ETA Valgranges A08.L01.

Based on the Valjoux 7750, the Valgranges family of movements were developed by ETA to fit larger cases. The A08.L01 is additionally upgraded, resulting in a longer, 54-hour power reserve. More notably, the cam found in the standard 7750 has been replaced by a column wheel.

The L688, however, is made by ETA exclusively for Longines, and further upgraded with a non-magnetic silicon hairspring.

All in all, it’s a reliable workhorse that’s been improved substantially, which means it offers strong value considering the price of the Avigation BigEye.

Concluding thoughts

Longines’ vintage remakes are all excellent value, but they are numerous and some are mundane. The Avigation BigEye in titanium is interesting in terms of aesthetics, while offering the same value. In fact, it arguably offers better value, being substantially more appealing in terms of design, while still being accessibly priced. The Avigation BigEye is one of the standout sports chronographs in its price segment.

Key facts and price

Longines Avigation BigEye Titanium

Diameter: 41 mm
Height: 14.5 mm
Material: Titanium
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: L688
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with 12-hour and 30-minute counters
Additional features: Silicon hairspring
28,800 beats per hour (4 Hz)
Winding: Automatic
Power reserve: 54 hours

Strap: Leather with titanium pin buckle

Availability: Longines’ online store, boutiques, and authorised retailers
US$3,225; or 4,960 Singapore dollars 

For more, visit longines.com.


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