Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Heritage 146 Hands-On
May 9, 2017
One of the most interesting timepieces that Zenith debuted this year was the Heritage 146 Chronomaster, which comes in a 38 mm x 12.45 mm vintage style 1969 El Primero stainless steel case (as opposed to 42 mm or larger).
The Heritage 146 is fundamentally the same as the Zenith X Hodinkee limited edition that was introduced in 2016. The difference is that this model has a brown or blue dial (versus slate gray), extra graduations on the small seconds subdial at 9 o’clock, a different crown (the Hodinkee version is flatter), and this model has either a brown or blue perforated leather strap (whereas the limited edition came with 3 straps).
Despite not being available in a slate gray sunray patterned dial, the Zenith Chronomaster Heritage 146 looks amazing in blue (not sure about the brown as I did not see that version), and in my opinion, the crown on this regular production model is more proportionally and aesthetically pleasing than the limited variation.
Inside, is the reliable caliber 4069 automatic (30 mm x 6.60 mm) column-wheel equipped 5Hz chronograph with a horizontal clutch. The El Primero movement, which has 254 components, 35 jewels, and a 50-hour power reserve, is visible through the caseback where you can see Geneva stripes, blued screws, and perlage finishing.
The so-called “tropical” sunray-patterned dials, rhodium-plated hands, rhodium-plated and faceted hour markers, along with white transfers combined with the simple two-register chronograph layout and no date, results in a superbly elegant design that is perfect for a suit or blazer but can easily be dressed down with a t-shirt.
The sapphire crystal protecting the dial is domed, and the sapphire crystal caseback screws down. Water-resistance is 100 meters. Completing the sporty retro look is a very nicely executed racing-style strap in a choice of brown or blue rubber-lined calfskin leather with a steel pin buckle.
At a retail price of $6700 this watch is a bargain, especially considering that virtually the same watch sold out on Hodinkee edition for $7900, and a few years ago the comparably equipped El Primeros listed for $8700. (Ref. 03.2150.4069/51.C805 - blue, 03.2150.4069/75.C806 - brown)