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Zenith A384 Revival 1

Back To The Beginning

Zenith A384 Revival 1

For the 50th anniversary of the El Primero, Zenith’s most emblematic movement, the watchmaker released the El Primero A384 Revival.

The 37mm steel chronograph, with its white lacquered dial and black counters, is an exact reproduction of the timepiece that introduced the first automatic chronograph movement to the world.

Zenith A384 1971 publication material
At the time of  its first release in January 1969, the El Primero was considered groundbreaking. Until then, no other automatic movement was configured to integrate a column-wheel and horizontal clutch, nor were other movements designed to beat with frequencies as high as 5 Hz. These features were what lent the timepiece the ability to measure elapsed time up to 12 hours and with an accuracy of up to 1/10th of a second.

Zenith was heralded as a pioneering leader in the watchmaking industry, but in a dramatic twist of fate, the first quartz movement was introduced later the same year.

The company was sold to a new owner in the United States who decided that the best way to deal with the quartz crisis was to focus on quartz. Instructions were given to shut down Zenith’s Swiss manufacture, and to sell all the equipment in it.

Charles Vermot, one of the watchmakers who had helped develop the El Primero defied the orders. Instead, he dismantled all the equipment used to produce the movement, and stored them in the company’s attic.

It wouldn’t be until a decade later, when Zenith was resold to Swiss owners, that the El Primero was revived. Thanks to Vermot stealing away the equipment, there was no need to re-engineer the production of a chronograph. He had also kept meticulous notes, which eliminated the need to repeat the research and development of the El Primero.

Through the years, there have been many iterations of timepieces that housed the movement. But the El Primero A384 Revival is the most fitting way to celebrate reaching the movement’s half-century mark.

Zenith A384 Soldier
Just like the original, the timepiece has a black tachymetric scale and a red central chronograph hand that doesn’t have Zenith’s signature star-shaped counterbalance. The subdial for small seconds is found at 9 o’clock, while the 30-minute and 12-hour counters are found at 3 o’clock and 6 o’clock, respectively. The chronograph functions are triggered by the same kind of pump pushers found on the first A384, and the date aperture is still found nestled between the 4 and 5 o’clock markers.

The only aspects of the 2019 model that are unlike the original is the sapphire crystal protecting the dial and used in the caseback, and the Super-LumiNova® that coats the hands and hour markers.

The Zenith A384 Revival is available with a rubber-lined leather strap, or a stainless steel ladder bracelet.

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