In an act of community service that we hope to see more of, Zenith is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the El Primero (“the first” in Spanish, the first integrated self-winding chronograph movement, beating at a record 5Hz rate) by also collaborating with Silicon Valley-based collectors’ club Collective to create the Chronomaster El Primero C.01, exclusively for club members.
Naturally, club members (largely from the tech industry) got to register their wish list, and with additional input from Bay Area jeweler Topper Jewelers, the partnership has created a very attractive rendition of the 1969 original with Silicon Valley consumer-tech sensibilities that counts Revolution founder Wei Koh among its fans.
The matte white dial with grey print is not only testament to the overwhelming dominance of Apple Inc. in the design language of premium consumer tech, it is also very easy on the eyes — grey on white is just legible enough for everyday practicality, and even the usual red chronograph hand has taken a step back, rhodium-plated in this instance to sit more comfortably with the hipster-cool monochrome.
In 38mm stainless steel case, the C.01 is the same size as the ref. A386 watch that debuted the El Primero movement in 1969, with the omission of the date display to breathe yet more visual space on the low-contrast dial.
Tech titans like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are known to wear super-utilitarian quartz watches; that doesn’t mean the rest of the digital community shouldn’t have something finer; and in the Chronomaster El Primero C.01, they’ve got a 1960s classic that has maintained its technical superiority over much of the pack to this very day.
Self-winding El Primero 4061 chronograph movement; 5Hz; non-date; 50 hours power reserve
38mm stainless steel; sapphire crystal display back; water resistant to 100m
Rubber strap with folding clasp