One To Watch | Zenith Chronomaster El Primero 38mm

One To Watch | Zenith Chronomaster El Primero 38mm

A favoured brand of watch collectors, Zenith constantly re-invent the subtle blend between tradition and the avant-garde and are one of the very few Swiss luxury watch brands who produce their own movements entirely in-house.

Still based in the same location where they made history over 150 years ago in Le Locle, Switzerland, Zenith have continued to pave the way with many world-firsts in the world of watchmaking: including the first ever integrated chronograph movement – the El Primero.

The Legendary Zenith El Primero Movement

A year which heralded many achievements (the first man on the moon, for one), 1969 also marked a revolution in watchmaking terms with the birth of Zenith’s El Primero calibre, the world’s first automatic chronograph.


Beating at 36,000 vibration per hour, the El Primero was strides ahead of other movements at the time – most were ticking at 18,000 vph or 21,600 vph. Its technical specifications were so complex that it took several years to develop, and it remains the world’s most precise series-made movement. It’s the only one capable of measuring short times to 1/10th of a second.

Did you know? Rolex used the El Primero movement for the Rolex Daytona, although they slowed the vibrations down to 28,800 vph.  

Zenith Chronomaster El Primero 36,000 VPH

The famous El Primero movement powers quite a few watches in Zenith’s core range; in fact all the watches in the Chronomaster collection tick at the impressive 36,000 vibrations per hour.

We’re taking a closer look at the 38mm model, which is a slightly smaller version of a legend in the watch industry. Staying true to the heritage of this revolutionary movement, the Zenith Chronomaster El Primero 36,000 VPH 38mm boasts pretty much the exact same movement that made history in 1969.


Even with a sub-40mm case size, the elegant dial doesn’t feel too cramped with its slightly overlapping tricolour subdials – they’re smaller than previous El Primero tricolour models. A cleaner, more spacious aesthetic and increased legibility on the dial comes from less text; there’s no ‘automatic’ or ’36,000 VPH’ lettering. Instead, just ‘Zenith El Primero’ at 12 o’clock, harking back to the original 1969 version.  

Turn the watch over and all 278 components of the El Primero Caliber 400 movement are there for you to admire through the sapphire crystal case-back – and admire you should.

Owning and appreciating a watch of this calibre is pretty much a must for serious watch collectors; a modern update to a vintage hero, housing one of the most important watch movements in history.

The Zenith Chronomaster El Primero 36,000 VPH 38mm is priced at £5,900 or from £110.62 per month with 0% interest free credit.

Our Verdict

Things We Like

 The El Primero movement; the world’s most precise series-made movement

 The 38mm case size  

 The famous 1969 dial with its tricolours

 Perfect For

 Owning a piece of watchmaking history

 Watch collectors

 Those looking for an elegant dress watch for smaller wrists

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