Inspired by a black chronograph prototype from 1970, the Chronomaster Revival Shadow is presented in an A384 case, Zenith’s first watch to house the El Primero.
Shortly after Zenith debuted the automatic El Primero movement in 1969, the company produced a prototype manual-winding chronograph — in a blackened steel case. Only a limited number were ever made and the timepiece was never brought to market. According to Zenith, longtime employees had heard of and even seen the rare prototype, despite few records existing about the so-called “mystery” watch.
Fast forward to last year when Zenith began celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous 5Hz El Primero chronograph, and as the story goes, the team at the manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland went into a secret walled-off attic where the company’s founder Charles Vermot had once hidden all the plans and parts necessary to produce the El Primero movement.
Among countless artifacts was a box containing the original prototype of the black chronograph that reportedly had not been seen by anyone since the early 1970s. It was agreed that the timing was perfect to complete the black chronograph project that had begun almost 50 years ago — and the “Shadow” was born.
In speaking with Zenith CEO, Julien Tornare (wristshot picture), last month at the launch of the Defy 21 Land Rover Edition — which took place at Watches of Switzerland SoHo just before everything in Manhattan and most of the world came to a halt — he explained to Professional Watches that the “Shadow” is a reimagination rather than a reproduction of the exact historical timepiece that he and his team discovered in the attic in 2019.
Enter the Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” which is presented in a case that’s a faithful reproduction of the circa 1969 A384 timepiece that housed the first El Primero movement and that measures 37 mm in diameter. However, instead of a stainless steel case with a black coating — like the abovementioned prototype — Zenith chose to go with a micro blasted titanium. Microbeads blasted against the lightweight titanium bring out the dark gray hue of the case material resulting in a unique matte surface. Unlike with the prototype from 1970, which features a manual-winding chronograph movement, the Chronomaster Revival Shadow features an automatic caliber 4061 El Primero movement — beating at 5Hz — visible through the exhibition caseback.
The dial of the Shadow is matte black with subtle light gray subdials for the chronograph and small seconds and a tachymeter scale on the outer ring. Standing out against the monochromatic dial are shiny applied indices that are rhodium-plated and faceted (coated in white lume that glows green) and matching rhodium-plated, faceted, and luminous hour and minute hands. Further accentuating the contrasty black and white aesthetic and enhancing legibility — the trio of subdial hands and the central chronograph seconds hand have been painted white.
A black rubber strap fused with a Cordura-effect textile material — with two white stitches at the lugs and a micro-blasted titanium pin buckle — completes the appealing modern-retro finish. (Ref. 97.T384.4061/21.C822)
Production is not limited. The retail price is $8,200.