In 1969 the third watch of the El Primero trilogy joined the Revival Club.
Zenith is undoubtedly the iconic sports El Primero with historical significance, and almost needs no introduction. Introduced in 1969, it was one of the first automatic chronograph movements launched by the watch industry. It had original specifications, a column wheel, a horizontal clutch and mostly a high frequency of 5 Hz. But it has to do with the engine. In fact, there are also watches, a trilogy of models A384, A385 and A386. Although two of them have been reissued in Zenith’s Revival series (A384 and A386), one of them is missing. By launching the Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385, the problem was solved.
The most important year in Zenith’s history may be 1969, plus 1865 (the year the brand was founded). This is also an important year for the entire watchmaking industry, as three game-changing movements were introduced. This was one of the first automatic chronographs ever. 1969 was the year when the world’s first automatic high-frequency chronograph Zenith El Primero fake was launched. The movement is still in production due to an incredible human story (to be fully explained here), and the movement was unveiled for the first time in three stainless steel models. Although the A386 comes with a more traditional case and three-color dial, which is the most famous of them, there is also the A384 with a barrel-shaped case and a panda dial-now available from Zenith’s Revival series-and another one, An even more original watch, A385.
The A385 is significantly different due to its dial. Indeed, the case is the same as the A384, but the colors used on the dial are impressive. Zenith stated that this is “the first smoked dial in the history of the watch industry” (we hope to verify this). This is the main difference between this model and the sporty and more classic Panda A384.
Interesting facts about A385. In 1970, it participated in Zenith’s “Operation Sky”. This extreme test included strapping the watch to the landing gear of an Air France Boeing 707 on a flight from Paris to New York to test its resistance to external attacks, such as severe temperature fluctuations, wind and air pressure changes. After landing, the watch can still operate normally.
2021 Zenith Chronograph Revives A385
It has been more than 50 years since its launch, and this model is also equipped with the new Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385. The recipe is simple and familiar. It is the same model used by the brand for the A386 and A384 Revival models. In short, we are talking about extremely faithful reproductions, only updated in terms of materials and minor mechanical upgrades. This is one of the advantages of using the same movement for the replica and the original watch… the measurement is easy to achieve.
Like the original factory, the diameter of the case is 37 mm. If the case looks familiar, it’s perfectly normal, because the A384 and A385 used to share shape and size, as did modern Revival watches. This new Revival A385 shares the case with the A384 watch. The top of the case retains the typical radial brushed surface of the late 1960s, and retains clear polished facets on the sides and top of the lugs. The shape of the wine barrel is also respected, and it is completely faithful to the original watch, with exactly the same size. The main update involves crystals, which are now made of sapphire instead of plexiglass.
The role of copying is not limited to this. Of course, the dial has been faithfully remade, including its fashionable smoky brown gradient and strong vignette effect. When the center is very bright, its edges will turn black. The sub-counter is silver-white, and the dial is framed by the tachometer scale. Similarly, the hands and the applied markers are rhodium-plated, faceted and polished, with beige Super-LumiNova, reminiscent of p-material materials. Just like the old A385, the central second hand stands out in bright red. In the end, a date of 4.30 was found in a slanted window…but the 1969 model also carries that date!
There is another update on the back of the watch. There is now a sapphire display window on the back of the watch, where you can see the legendary El Primero 400 caliber movement. This movement has a three-counter display, and has no other complications except the date. It is the closest dial you can find. The original movement dates back to 1969-it shares most of the components, and the architecture is basically the same. This automatic column wheel chronograph maintains its 5Hz frequency (36,000 vibrations per hour) and has a power reserve of 50 hours.
The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385 can be used on a light brown calfskin strap with a protective rubber lining and a stainless steel pin buckle, or, to make the look more realistic, you can use a trapezoidal stainless steel bracelet with a folding clasp. The strap is modern and refurbished. GayFrères bracelet on El Primero’s early watches.
TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS – ZENITH CHRONOMASTER REVIVAL A385
Case: 37mm diameter – stainless steel case, radial brushed and polished – box sapphire crystal – steel pushers – sapphire caseback – 50m water-resistant
Dial: smoked brown gradient dial – white-coloured counters – hour markers and hands rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with beige Super-LumiNova
Movement: El Primero calibre 400 – in-house – automatic integrated chronograph with column wheel and horizontal clutch – 278 components – 36,000 vibrations/hour – 50h power reserve – hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with 30min and 12h counters, date
Strap: light brown calf leather strap with protective rubber lining and stainless steel pin buckle or ladder steel bracelet with stainless steel double folding clasp
References: 03.A384.400/385.C855 leather strap
03.A384.400/385.M385 ladder bracelet