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Baselworld 2019: Meet the three 50th anniversary models of the Zenith El Primero chronograph

The limited edition El Primero Revival A386s are cased in gold and come with an incredible 50-year guarantee.

Baselworld 2019: Meet the three 50th anniversary models of the Zenith El Primero chronograph

The legendary El Primero chronograph celebrates its 50th birthday this year. (Photo: Zenith)

Sometimes you just got to give collectors what they want. Zenith knows this all too well. While its Baselworld 2019 lineup is studded with boundary-pushing technical exemplars like the Defy Inventor and the Defy El Primero 21, it made sure to include not one, but three anniversary models of the El Primero, the era-defining chronograph that put the watchmaker on the horological map in 1969.

Yes, the El Primero turns half a century old this year. Fittingly, the anniversary trio, called the El Primero Revival A386, is cloaked in resplendent gold casings – white, rose and yellow. Other than the new precious metal guises (El Primeros are typically cased in steel or high-tech materials), the watches remain faithful to the original.

Features such as the 38mm case diameter, the domed crystal, the tri-coloured counters, the tachymeter scale, the hands and markers, the pushers and the lugs – all recreate what was found on the OG.

Of course, some updates needed to be installed. The movement is the current generation El Primero 400, which was introduced a decade ago. Witness the workings of this high-beat (5Hz) engine through the open case back – another feature not found on the original.

If you compare the El Primero Revival A386 with the 45th anniversary version, the El Primero Original 1969 (released in 2014), you’ll notice subtle differences.

The latter was housed in a stainless steel case; its 12-hour chronograph counter overlapped the other two counters (it’s the reverse on the A386); and its chronograph seconds hand sported the Zenith star motif on the counterweight (this is absent on the A386).

Naturally, each of the A386 models come in a limited edition – 50 pieces only. But get this: They also come with an incredible 50-year guarantee. Does that make them eminently suitable as heirloom pieces? We think so.

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Source: CNA/ds