Zenith El Primero 'Cover Girl'
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Zenith El Primero 'Cover Girl'

Why We Love It

 

Easy...breezy...beautiful Cover Girl.

The histories behind 'nicknamed' watches is sometimes pretty unusual and obscure...and other times, its pretty much right on the nose.

The Reference A3818 is known as the 'Cover Girl' simply because it was featured as the cover image of Manfred Rössler's brilliant book, Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865. Yep, that's it.

Except it is also so much more.

The Reference A3818 features the same tonneau shaped case as popular the A384/A385 models (the former of which was just reissued for 2019), but is fitted with a brilliant sunburst blue dial with exotic chapter ring that positively jumps off the wrist. Powered by the legendary Calibre 3019 El Primero automatic chronograph movement, this is one of the rarest and most desirable executions from the 1970s.

This particular example is in untouched, unpolished condition with a lightly patinated dial featuring richly aged luminous indices and hands. Best of all, it comes fitted to a Gay Freres 'ladder' bracelet with correct (and virtually unobtanium) ZKM end links.

In short, this is the one you want.

 

 

The Story

For many years, the words El Primero held little meaning outside of high-intensity watch enthusiast and collectors groups.  But a few year ago, Zenith brought those words back into the fore with the release of their heritage piece, the El Primero Striking Tenth chronograph.  The piece was a success in it's own right and got a lot of attention in industry publications.  But it also marshaled the growing body of watch enthusiasts, urging them to look back at the history of the movement and the pieces produced around the legendary movement. 

The El Primero was high-beat automatic chronograph movement that debuted in 1969, challenging Seiko's Reference 6139 and Project 99's Calibre 11 for the title of world's first automatic chronograph.  The advent of the automatic chronograph was a huge technological feat and it changed the face of the industry, opening the door for many companies to offer their own models.  But while the Calibre 11 found its way into a slew of watches, Zenith made their El Primero movements available to only a handful of other manufactures.

 And for good reason.  Of the three movements that were released that year, only the El Primero was high-beat, offering significant added accuracy.

 

Details

SKU: AS03310

Stainless Steel case is approximately 37mm (excluding crown). Zenith Reference A384/5. Zenith El Primero Automatic Chronograph Movement Calibre 3019. Circa 1970s.

Overall Condition: The case is in excellent condition overall, with a very pleasing case bearing original brushing and showing no signs of over-polishing. Blue fumé dial is in outstanding condition with evenly patinated luminous indices. Luminous handset shows matching patina. Zenith signed 'star' crown and screw case back.

Includes one Gay Freres 'Ladder' bracelet with ZKM end links and signed clasp.

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