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ReviewZenith Revisits Historic El Primero Roots With The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

Zenith bridges past and present watchmaking in the vintage-inspired yet contemporary Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

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Zenith have played a pivotal role in the advent of the automatic chronograph since the introduction of the groundbreaking El Primero in 1969. The high-frequency movement beating at 36,000vph represented unprecedented precision paired with automatic winding convenience. It was a watershed moment that changed the trajectory of chronographs. However, the El Primero story begins even before its official debut.

Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar
 Vintage styling meets modern watchmaking in the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

The El Primero Journey

When Zenith set out to create the El Primero in the 1960s, the intention was always for the movement to accommodate more than just the chronograph function. Visionary engineers at Zenith devised the El Primero architecture with the future integration of a triple calendar and moon phase in mind. But as fate would have it, the instant success of the three-register chronograph upon its launch resulted in the El Primero Triple Calendar being temporarily placed on the back burner.

It would take until 1972 for Zenith to incorporate the full calendar display with moon phase into an El Primero watch, bearing reference A7817 and affectionately dubbed the ‘Espada’ amongst collectors. In subsequent decades, Zenith would continue to produce the Triple Calendar El Primero intermittently in various case iterations. Then entered the 1994 Chronomaster 410 Triple Calendar which captured the hearts of watch enthusiasts with its dashing looks, COSC-certification, and complex mechanics encased in a 39mm stainless-steel case.

The Watch Guide
The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar represents a harmonious blend of past and present by infusing a vintage style with cutting-edge watchmaking

Today in 2024, Zenith is making a nostalgic return by reviving the El Primero’s original blueprint. Cue the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar, evoking the golden age of chronographs while demonstrating contemporary finesse and technicality. Make no mistake—this is not simply a vintage remake. The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar represents a harmonious blend of past and present by infusing a vintage style with cutting-edge watchmaking.

The Timeless Design Of The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

Staying true to Zenith’s vintage roots, the design code for the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar stems directly from landmark references in the manufacture’s chronograph history—namely the A386 launched in 1969 and a prototype from 1970.

The stainless steel case replicates the dimensions of the A386 at 38mm diameter and 46mm lug-to-lug. It retains the emblematic pump-style pushers, angular lugs, and vintage box-shaped sapphire crystal adding further retro allure. 

The Watch Guide

The design code for the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar stems directly from landmark references in the manufacture’s chronograph history

The Watch Guide

At 38mm diameter and 12.6mm thick, it achieves a compact profile worn comfortably by many wrist sizes

While the register layout differs slightly from the A386, the dial profile, raised indices and fine radial brushing pay direct homage. Three sub-dials are positioned symmetrically with new day and month apertures above nine and three o’clock. The date window preserves its place at 4:30 and the moon phase accompanies the 60-minute counter. Hour markers are rose gold-plated for a vintage mood, with lume filling to glow in darkness. Faceted rose-gold hands glide smoothly around the canvas.

Adding to the retro vibe are three dial variants—white panda with contrasting black sub-dials, a slate grey tone evoking the 1970 prototype, and an olive green sunburst dial exclusive to Zenith boutiques. Each colourway has its own personality but uniformly commands vintage appeal.

What is most impressive is how Zenith integrated additional complexity without compromising aesthetics or cluttering the dial. The calendar indications feel native to the overall design—a seamless marriage of form and function. The result is a watch that retains visual balance and harmony.

The Watch Guide

What is most impressive is how Zenith integrated additional complexity without compromising aesthetics or cluttering the dial

The Watch Guide

With the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar, Zenith has crafted a contemporary homage to one of history's most revered chronographs that collectors will surely treasure

Inside The El Primero 3610 Movement

At the heart of the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar beats the El Primero 3610 automatic chronograph Calibre. The movement represents a continuation of Zenith’s legendry chronograph lineage, preserving the high 5Hz frequency first introduced in 1969 for precision down to 1/10th of a second. Through the transparent caseback, the decorated rotor takes center stage engraved with the Zenith star and lined with gold. Blue screws offer a playful pop of colour. 

Despite the addition of calendar modules, the movement achieves a 60-hour power reserve—an impressive feat for an integrated chronograph. Time is kept via a large balance wheel oscillating at 36,000vph.

From its high-tech construction to mesmerising oscillation visible through the caseback, the El Primero 3610 represents next-generation watchmaking while upholding the 1960s spirit that birthed the legendary calibre family. 

The Watch Guide

At the heart of the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar beats the El Primero 3610 automatic chronograph Calibre

The Watch Guide

Time is kept via a large balance wheel oscillating at 36,000 vibrations per hour

Details And Wearability Of The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar was designed for everyday wearability while preserving vintage appeal. At 38mm diameter and 12.6mm thick, it achieves a compact profile worn comfortably under shirt cuffs, thanks to curved lugs that hug smaller wrists. With 50m of water-resistance and a securely domed sapphire crystal, the watch is deemed robust enough for daily activity without needing to be sheltered. Super-LumiNova on hands and indices ensure excellent night-time legibility. The watch strikes an ideal balance between presence and versatility—available on a three-link bracelet or three calfskin leather strap options to match dial colours.

Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar
The Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar is available in three captivating dial variants—elegant white ‘panda’ with black sub-dials, sleek slate grey, and sunburst olive green—each paired with a choice of a matching calfskin strap or a sophisticated stainless-steel bracelet

Final Thoughts 

With the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar, Zenith has crafted a contemporary homage to one of history’s most revered chronographs that collectors will surely treasure. Seamlessly blending the primal appeal of the late-60s El Primero design with modern refinements like an advanced movement and integrated complications, this watch bridges past and present. For the Zenith connoisseur, it represents a fitting continuation of the most legendary chronograph bloodline; for the casual admirer, a portal into the golden era of chronographs reimagined for the modern age. Regardless of perspective, the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar is a testament to the endless potential of a classic formula.

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