Zenith El Primero A386
SOLD

Zenith El Primero A386

Why We Love It

As the first model to be fitted with the El Primero movement, the Zenith A386 was—visually and technically—a standout. 

Its avant-garde looks and groundbreaking movement ensured that it stood out from the competition. The A386 was hallmarked by its three different-colored sub-registers, a drastic departure from the traditional color schemes of most chronographs of the day. And although the case was round—unlike its successors—it was distinguished by its beveled lugs.

The A386 commands a hefty premium among collectors for its horological import, and the one that we offer here holds up the watch’s reputation. The bevels on the lugs are sharp, and the dial is no less stunning. Released at the absolute zenith of Zenith’s history, this A386 is certainly worthy of its preeminence. 

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.

Details

SKU: AS02586

Stainless steel case is approximately 38mm (excluding crown and pushers). Reference A386. Calibre 3019 Self-Winding El Primero Movement.

Overall Condition: Case is in very good condition overall with signs of moderate use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with patina to the luminescent elements. Red center chronograph hand is service replacement. Signed crown. Case back has some signs of use and wear.

Includes one 19mm genuine alligator strap.

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We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.

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