Introducing the Zenith x SJX Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”

Reimagining the disco-era G383.

I’m pleased to announce the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”, a collaborative edition loosely inspired by the disco-era El Primero G383, but reimagined with lots of lume – the dial is disco at night and also in the day.

Update: Sold out, thank you for the interest.

A brief background

Zenith is a brand that appeals to me on an intellectual level because it’s historically significant for its chronometers and chronographs, but also on a personal level, simply because the brand makes watches that are both appealing and affordable. So it was a no-brainer for me to work with Zenith – since it meant I could create my fantasy El Primero.

One of my favourite vintage Zenith models is the G383, a truly funky watch with a design that is unmistakably of the late 1960s and 1970s – the dial is over the top and truly disco.

The El Primero G383 of 1969

But a one-for-one vintage remake has never interested me (plus I’m not a fan of the tiny lugs of the G383). So in early 2020, I got in touch with Romain Marietta, Zenith’s head of product development, and together we spent several months refining the concept, creating the Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”.

(Full disclosure: The several months spent tweaking the idea produced more than one outstanding design, so a variant is a possibility.)

At the same time, the Poker Chip will also be more accessible than our past editions. It’s as affordable as Zenith watches typically are – in fact it costs just 10% more than the Chronomaster Revival A386 in steel – but will also be available more widely.

Unlike our SJX Editions by Habring2 and Kudoke that were available only on SJX Watches and sold out almost instantly, the Poker Chip is a collaborative effort between us and Zenith. It is still a limited edition, but it will also be available at Zenith boutiques, after an initial period of exclusivity for us – click here to order.

The “poker chip”

Like our past editions, the Poker Chip was conceived to be easily recognisable as a Zenith, but immediately distinct from the brand’s other designs – extracting a great idea from history and reimagining it for today.

So the classic 38 mm El Primero case of 1969 is retained, but it’s micro-blasted titanium for the first time (the other models with the same case are in steel).

By the same token, the dial design goes back to the very beginning of the El Primero. Launched in 1969, the G383 sports a wildly sectored layout in black, white, and gold that evokes a poker chip.

Unique amongst vintage El Primero models in terms of style and also notably rare – only about 200 were made – the G383 is relatively obscure today, perhaps because the extravagant look is not for everyone, especially with its unusual lugs.

Reinterpreting

The modern-day Poker Chip transforms the aesthetic of the original into something that is striking in its contemporary style, but once you recognise the historical inspiration, the disco-era flavour is apparent.

Rendered in dark grey, the dial is sectored into matte black segments with Super-Luminova patterns on top, reproducing the layout of the vintage original – but in lume.

Because of the generous Super-Luminova on the dial, the “poker chip” motif is apparent in both day and night – though I do think it’s more striking in the dark.

And for maximum effect at night, the watch is delivered with an additional strap of fabric impregnated with Super-Luminova – so the entire strap glows. Credit for the glow-in-the-dark strap goes to Romain and his team.

Because the dial is coolly excessive, the case was made restrained, while remaining a twist on a vintage classic. Like the Chronomaster Revival models – and the vintage El Primero A386 – the case is a compact 38 mm but made minimalist.

It’s micro-blasted titanium, giving the case a fine, dark grey finish that’s then enhanced with a coating that increases its wear resistance and also helps prevents fingerprints from showing.

The sapphire crystal is domed

And the crown bears the Zenith star logo in relief

Inside the case is the El Primero 400, a movement that’s basically the same as that found in G383 and all the other El Primero models of 1969.

Zenith had already launched a new version of the El Primero movement when this project started last year, so there was a choice of movement. We decided to go for the original El Primero for two reasons.

One is the fact that I expect the original El Primero to gradually become less common as the latest versions of the movement become more widespread throughout the Zenith line up. And the second is the gentle irony of having reimagined the aesthetics of a vintage watch but retaining the same movement.

Payment and delivery

Limited to 200 pieces, the Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip” is priced at US$10,000 or SGD14,500, with payment via credit card or wire transfer. The watches will be shipped from Singapore in the third and fourth week of November. (Prices include shipping and insurance worldwide, but the buyer is responsible for duties and taxes.)

The Poker Chip will be exclusively available from SJX Watches for a month – order it here – and then subsequently from Zenith boutiques around the world, as well as its online store.

Update: Sold out, thank you for the interest.


Specifications and price

Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”
Ref. 97.G383.400.38.C880

Diameter: 38 mm
Material: Titanium, micro-blasted
Crystal: Sapphire
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: 19/16 mm in black fabric with titanium pin buckle, additional strap in luminous fabric

Limited edition: 200 pieces
Availability: Sold out
Price: USD10,000, or SGD14,500

Prices include shipping and insurance worldwide, while the buyer is responsible for duties and taxes. Payment can be made via credit card or wire transfer.

Click here to order.


 

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Blancpain Introduces the Air Command Chronograph in Titanium

With a blue dial.

Resurrected two years ago with modern materials and tech, the Air Command was originally a 1950s wristwatch reputedly created for the US Air Force that was never serially produced, resulting in just a dozen examples made.

With the success of the vintage-looking 2019 remake, Blancpain has followed up with the regular-production Air Command Flyback Chronograph in a modern palette, with a blue dial and a case in either titanium or red gold.

Initial thoughts

The Air Command reissue of 2019 was a hit. The 500-piece run sold out quickly and and now sells for slightly above the original retail price – a feat for a modern-day Blancpain.

Unsurprisingly, Blancpain has stuck to the same successful formula with the new Air Command, which retains the same case and design, but manages to look quite different (and will no doubt feel different thanks to the case metal).

The dial is finished with a “sunburst” brushing that gives it a metallic glint

With its livelier colours, the latest version is arguably more striking than the original remake. At the same time, it avoids the pitfall of trying too hard to look vintage, as was arguably the case with the original limited edition.

And the gold version makes sense as well. The Air Command is clearly a luxury-sports watch rather than a military-issue instrument, so 18k gold feels right at home with the design. For those who find titanium too dull or too affordable, the gold version is certainly the one to go for.

Notably, Blancpain has done away with one of the coolest features of the limited edition – the propellor-shaped rotor in 18k red gold. That certainly helps set the limited editions apart from the new Air Command that is regular-production.

The new version has to make do with a rotor that’s still 18k gold but plain

The Air Command starts at US$18,500 in titanium, which is almost identical to the price of the limited edition in steel. It’s arguably a better value proposition than the original given the case material.

Striking blue

The key difference between the new version and the 2019 limited edition is aesthetics. While the original was clearly retro – it combined a matt black dial with faux-vintage lume – the new Air Command is modern.

It has a metallic blue dial with radial finish that gives it more reflectivity. At the same time, it has fresh green Super-Luninova, steering away from the mock-aged look found on the limited edition.

Despite being large at 42.5 mm, the watch has a well-proportioned dial. That’s in part due to the tachymeter on the outer section of the dial as well as the countdown bezel, which shrinks the central portion of the dial, allowing the sub-dials to be properly sized.

But a more important reason for the excellent layout is the large movement, which clocks in at 31.8 mm wide. The movement is impressively high-spec: it features a vertical clutch and column wheel, flyback function, as well as a non-magnetic silicon hairspring attached to a free-sprung balance that beats at a high frequency of 5 Hz, or 36,000 beats per hour.

The finishing is typical of Blancpain, neat and clean with refined details. It’s a mix of machine- and manually-executed finishes. Notably, some of the bevelling on the bridges is mirror finished and rounded, indicating it was completed by hand.


Key facts and price

Blancpain Air Command Flyback Chronograph
Ref. AC02-12B40-63 (titanium)
Ref. AC02-36B40-63 (gold)

Diameter: 42.5 mm
Height: 13.77 mm
Material: Titanium or 18k red gold
Crystal: Sapphire
Water resistance: 30 m

Movement: F388B
Functions: Hours, minutes, and chronograph 
Winding
: Automatic
Frequency: 36,600 vibrations per hour (5 Hz)
Power reserve: 50 hours

Strap: Calfskin with pin buckle

Availability: At Blancpain boutiques and retailers
Price:
Titanium – US$18,500
Gold – US$29,100

For more, visit blancpain.com.


 

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