Zenith El Primero A386 MKII

Zenith El Primero A386 MKII

Why We Love It

As the first model to be fitted with the El Primero automatic chronograph movement, the Zenith A386 was—visually and technically—a standout. And 2019 marks 50 years since its debut!

With a groundbreaking movement and tremendous looks, it makes sense why these pieces are so coveted.

The standout visual feature of the A386 are its 'Tri-colore' overlapping sub registers. The 37mm steel case wears perfectly on the wrist. And the Gay Freres ladder bracelet will turn heads wherever you go. 

This particular example is a 'MKII" execution dating to roughly 1971. Featuring a crisp case and a perfectly patinated dial and handset - not to mention correct crown and bracelet - this is a no-excuses A386 that will make someone very, very happy!

The Story

In 1969, as the Soviets and the Americans raced to put a man on the moon, watch brands raced to develop the first automatic chronograph movement. The fiercest competition was among the Swiss, with two camps vying against each other for supremacy: Hamilton, in concert with Heuer, Breitling, Dubois-Depraz, and new Hamilton acquisition, Buren, who would use Buren's Intra-Matic to develop the "Chrono-Matic" (or Caliber 11) under the mysterious title of Project 99. Then there were Zenith and Movado, who'd already made a name for themselves as producers of fine chronographs

Zenith’s journey to develop the El Primero began in 1962, for a target date of 1965, the company’s centennial. Although Zenith would overshoot the date by four years, the movement that they produced would break the mold as far as chronograph movements were concerned—both literally and figuratively.

It would be the first automatic chronograph movement. Furthermore, it would be the first chronograph movement where the construction would fully integrate the chronograph complication, rather than containing it in a module. Instead, the El Primero would contain a column wheel and a rotor mounted on ball bearings. Moreover, of the three automatic chronograph movements that were released in 1969, only the El Primero was high-beat, meaning that it beat at a rate of 36,000 bph. This offered significant added accuracy, down to one tenths of a second.


SKU: AS03053

Stainless steel case is approximately 37MM (excluding the crown). Zenith Reference A386. Calibre 3019 self winding automatic chronograph movement. Circa 1971.

Overall Condition: The case is in great condition overall with normal signs of wear from age and use. Luminous cream tone dial is in very good condition with patina throughout. Luminous handset shows patination. Signed crown.

Includes Gay Freres ladder bracelet with correct 'ZJ' end links and signed clasp.

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