This year’s biggest horological anniversary might be the 50th birthday of the Zenith El Primero. The incredible movement and the watch that introduced it to the world – the A386 – changed the game entirely back in 1969. Sure, there were other automatic chronographs unveiled that year, but Zenith’s was the only one to feature a high-speed 5 Hz (36,000 vph) escapement for greater precision and accuracy. It has gone on to become one of the most storied movements of the 20th century and, despite briefly going out of production, it’s been a mainstay in Zenith’s arsenal for almost its entire lifespan.
The big question was how Zenith would celebrate such an important anniversary. Back in January they showed us a box set of El Primeros that shows off the various incarnations of the movement from over the years, but fans have anxiously been awaiting that special standalone anniversary piece. What Zenith is giving us is the El Primero A386 Revival, a faithful recreation of the watch that started it all, only rendered in a trio of precious metals (white, rose, and yellow gold). The A386 Revival still measures up at 38mm across, still features a classic 5 Hz El Primero movement, and still has that distinctive tri-color dial. It’s a quintessential El Primero through and through, just in a slightly more luxe package. Each version is limited to just 50 pieces and they are going to be sold individually, not as a three-piece set.