The new Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 (Ref. 27.03.0138.940) is equipped with a new self-winding chronograph caliber that was specifically re-engineered in order to move its “heart,” the balance wheel that beats at 10 vibrations per second, to a less usual position between 10 and 11 o’clock. There it is perfectly visible through a cut-out in the silvered dial right above the small-seconds indicator.
It takes just a single glance at the timekeeper’s multicolored dial to see that the watch faithfully follows the design cues that were set back in 1969 when the Swiss watchmaker has first presented an El Primero chronograph with its overwhelming combination of different colors.
This particular model, for example, features blue for the 30-minute chronograph totalizers and the tree screw heads, red for the three chronograph hands, white for the Superluminova patches on hours and minutes hands as well as for the facetted hour markers, and yellow for the balance wheel and other parts of the going train that are visible through the cutout.
The whole display looks especially bright on a rather restrained background of the silvered dial with a nicely executed sunburst finish. Also, as for its “open-heart” design, I must admit that in this particular example the way of decorating the dial is well-done: while many cheaper models somehow look even cheaper with this “poor man’s tourbillon” concept, the Swiss watchmaking giant used the idea to its advantage with all visible parts of the movement featuring extremely refined (although not hand-finished) decor combining circular-graining and something that looks like machine-brushing.
I personally know a number of people that find this riot of color utterly disgusting, but for yours truly the combination looks cheerful and lively. I can easily imagine myself wearing this piece with designer jeans and a polo shirt, although I am not sure whether it would look cool with more formal attire.
By the way, it is nice to note that the new Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 is presented in a rather compact stainless steel body only 42 millimeters in diameter, which is great especially if you will compare this gorgeous model with a sporty El Primero Stratos Flyback Striking 10th that was more than 45 millimeters wide.
Featuring alternately polished and brushed surfaces, the body has a certain vintage feel about it, which is further underlined with rather archaic-looking chronograph push-pieces.
In their official press release, the Swiss watchmaker doesn’t say a word regarding the timekeeper’s price and international availability, but we expect the information to be disclosed in a couple of weeks after the watch is presented at the upcoming Baselworld 2012 trade fair.
Zenith El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Open-Heart Chronograph 27.03.0138.940 specification
Movement: Automatic, caliber El Primero 4061, in-house, 282 parts, Swiss Made
Number of jewels: 31 jewels
Movement frequency: 36,000 vph
Movement decoration: Oscillating weight is decorated with Cotes de Geneve motif
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph, tachymeter
Power reserve: 50 hours
Case: Stainless case
Size: 42.00 mm
Dial: Silvered, sunburst finish
Hour markers: Rhodium-plated, faceted, luminous
Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted, luminous
Water resistance: 100 meters
Strap: Black alligator leather strap with rubber lining and steel buckle or triple folding clasp
Crystal: Sapphire, domed, anti-reflective on both sides