Zenith has been raging with a variety of new timepieces over the past few years, following what seemed like a neverending flow of Defy iterations.

From revival timepieces such as the archive-inspired 384 and 386 to the modern Chronomaster Sport and even the Defy Carbon — Zenith is further distinguishing its offerings within the crowded timepiece marketplace.

2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"

The Chronomaster Sport line, launched earlier this year — with a little help from none other than Aaron Rodgers — is reportedly doing well, although not so much that you have to pay over retail for it currently. This is good for Zenith and could bolster significantly bolster their sales in the coming years if the demand and resale values hold steady, or rise.

2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"

Zenith is clearly trying to appeal to a broader audience with Rodgers and the Chronomaster Sport line —  although, beyond the mainstream market there’s still an enthusiast-level of collector that wants something more classically styled and sized. For this consumer, Zenith has created the Chronomaster Original, which measures 38 mm x 12.6 mm in diameter, and has the look of the historic A386 references, yet features a subtly modernized design, such as a 1/10th of a second chronograph hand that can be easily read with 1/100th of a second precision.

2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"

The outermost scale, printed in white on the sloped black flange, indicates the 1/10th of a second, with ten hash marks that allow reading down to 1/100th of a second. While the white ring just inside the flange, with black numbers and hash marks, helps to quickly do the math so you can read off the smaller division of time down to 1/100th of a second, more easily than if you just used one of the graduated scales. Together, with the 60-minute, and 60-second white chronograph counters, you’ve got a very precise easy to read chronograph, with no complex calculations needed to get there. And completing the black dial’s “reverse panda” look, the final of the three subdials (which are all marked 0-60), displays running seconds (at 9 o’clock).

2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"

Contemporary, white lacquer painted rectangle-shaped hour and minute hands have been painted with a vintagey beige-colored lume in each hand’s center section (towards the center pinion that holds them in place), with a black-painted section towards the tip — which plays well with the black and white color scheme. The style of hands is similar but not quite the same style as can be seen on one of the two A386-based models that Zenith produced in collaboration with Phillips two years ago. All three white subdials are contrasted by black baton-shaped counter hands. The centrally mounted fraction of a second chronograph hand which indicates both 1/10th and 1/100th time measurements  — no longer has a rectangular luminescent towards the tip. The new baton-shaped, white lacquer painted chronograph hand, follows the contemporary look that Zenith is going for and ends with a flared counterweight (instead of a Zenith star). 

2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"

Zenith’s 2021 Chronomaster Original is available with a reverse panda dial on a light brown hand-sewn white two-stitch and machine-stitched tone-on-tone leather strap as shown ($8,400) or with a stainless steel bracelet ($9,000). The Chronomaster Original is also available with the traditional white dial and Zenith’s signature multi-color subdials on a blue leather strap ($8,400), a stainless steel bracelet ($9,000), or with a brown leather strap and an 18K rose gold case ($19,000).

2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda"

Verdict

The 2021 Zenith Chronomaster Original “Reverse Panda” Ref 03.3200.3600/21.C903 watch as shown (with light brown leather strap) retails for $8,400. The cost of the same watch on a stainless steel bracelet is $600 more, and considering it’s not the retro ladder bracelet — but a gorgeous modern bracelet design with chamfered edges and polished center links — I’d probably go with the bracelet here.

For those of you looking for a 38 mm chronograph from a venerable watchmaker, this is a great option. The watch diameter is on the smaller end, so it might look a bit too small on those with larger wrists, although the lug-to-lug appears to be a good size that may allow it to sit well on large and small wrists alike. Skip the version with Zenith’s signature tri-color subdials and go with the white-on-black reverse panda dial (as shown) — it’s stunning.

Learn more at Oster Jewelers.

Zenith Chronomaster Original "Reverse Panda" caseback

Posted by:Jason Pitsch

Jason Pitsch is the Founder of Professional Watches. He specializes in writing about and photographing timepieces.