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.
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)
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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