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1969 Meets 2021 With the 38mm Zenith Chronomaster Original

The Zenith Chronomaster Original featuring its iconic tri-colored dial.
The Zenith Chronomaster Original featuring its iconic tri-colored dial. Image used with permission by copyright holder

1969 was an iconic year across the world. The Beatles played their last public performance on the roof of Apple Records in London. In France, Concorde conducted the first supersonic test flight. 350,000 rock fans descended upon a New York farm named Woodstock and in July, Neil Armstrong and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin became the first humans to set foot on the Moon.

Emerging from Le Locle, the cradle of Swiss watchmaking, Zenith debuted the A386, a watch with few influential or iconic equals over the last five decades. This summer, Zenith finally released its successor, the Chronomaster Original.

While Zenith paid tribute to the emblematic A386 with gold versions in its Chronomaster Revival collection for El Primero’s 2019 50th anniversary, a steel re-release has long been something that collectors and horological aficionados have been awaiting. 

The two versions appear nearly identical, showing off the same lunar gray, charcoal, and blue dials upon a white face, a subtle homage to the Space Age’s defining colors. Each features a quintessential 38mm round, bezel-less steel case with a raised and domed crystal, three pump-style steel push buttons, radial-brushed and polished surfaces and faceted lugs. The A386’s steel bracelet, though, forgoes 1969’s open “ladder” design for solid links. 

Zenith is taking the Chronomaster Original into the 21st century inside and out. All of the A386’s intrinsic parts are passed down to the Chronomaster Original, with subtle updates to boost performance including 1/10th of a second precision and the most recent El Primero 3600 time measurement.   

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It’s not uncommon for a watch style to become classic, but it’s rarer for a watch movement to gain fame. After more than 50 years, the A386’s El Primero calibration – the world’s first automatic high-frequency integrated chronograph move — remains legendary, appearing not only in Zenith watches, but in Ebel, Dunhill, DuBois et Fils, TAG Heuer, and Daniel Roth.

Alongside its original tri-color dial, the Chronomaster Original is available in two other versions: An 18k rose gold-housed version (with the same tri-color dial), and a steel-cased “reverse panda” black dial and silver chronograph register.  

In many ways, such an update, both internally and stylistically, is the perfect tribute to a watch that, in 1969, was years ahead of its time. The collection is available now at Zenith Boutiques, online and authorized retailers around the world; www.zenith-watches.com.

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Matthew Denis
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Matt Denis is an on-the-go remote multimedia reporter, exploring arts, culture, and the existential in the Pacific Northwest…
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