Hands-On: Zenith El Primero Revival A386 – 50th Anniversary

How does one celebrate a 50 year anniversary of the iconic 1969 El Primero high-frequency chronograph? By releasing a 50 piece limited edition in solid gold with a 50 year guarantee, that’s how. Revivals, Limited Editions and Special Editions, the gifts that keep on giving.

While I’m personally not the greatest fan of such editions, so very much in fashion right now, Zenith did this Anniversary edition justice. A revival done right.

The release is in a perfect 38 mm case, making this an extremely wearable and unisex wristwatch, much as is the original. This release is a true homage to the original by the way, with as close as possible detail execution to the original, including the vintage pushers and hands.

Not true to the original is the gorgeous displayback. And I won’t argue with that decision, because it is such a beautiful mechanism to behold. ‘A cadence of 36,000 vibrations per hour; an integrated column-wheel construction; a ballbearing-mounted central rotor; and over 50 hours of power reserve – a real feat for such a high frequency – have been the signature features of El Primero creations for half a century.’

Not putting in a display case-back would have been a crime here:

It comes in three different Aurelian editions: White gold, Yellow gold and Rose gold. Due to the vintage yet contemporary, or even timeless, feel of these watches, all three shades are equally appealing. The white gold somehow feels most ‘current’:

The yellow gold has the most ‘vintage’ feel to it and the rose gold sits somewhere in between both if you ask me. 

This is one of those rare nods to the past that is executed very well. A feat that is rare in today’s watch industry but not rare at Zenith where they seem to understand these editions very well. While having quite a bit of time to check this series on I felt that Zenith really did a stellar job here and made a great call for ditching the past when it comes to the caseback and give us all a look at that beautiful movement.

Given the very low volume for this release, good luck trying to get your hands on one of these, they are sure worth the hunt though! Not-so-secretly I would like this very watch to see a broader release in steel – that would be a sure hit if you ask me.

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