When I first tried on the Zenith El Primero Original 1969, with its 38 mm(based on the original 1969 dimensions), I wasn’t immediately blown away. While it was great to see a conservatively-sized , at first glance, the dial, with less real estate than its 42 mm contemporary brethren, seemed congested with its large intersecting tri-color registers.
Interestly, there is more conceptual depth to those boldly colored registers, long a trademark of the El Primero. The 60-second register at 9 o’clock is colored light silver to denote the ethereal, fleeting nature of time. At 6 o’clock, the 12-hour register is colored dark grey, a reminder of the long duration of time the column-wheel chronograph is capable of recording. Lastly, the color of the 30-minute blue register references a sort of middle ground; as an important unit of measurement for the chronograph, minutes aren’t as fleeting as seconds or imperceptible as hours.
Still, relative to theof the , the registers are quite large. This, along with the thick navy-blue border behind the minutes markings, a red chronograph seconds hand, and bold, faceted rectangular rhodium hour indexes, results in a dial much more sporty than subdued, staying true to the heritage of this line.