The diameter is, obviously, not the only metric we pay attention to. We greatly prefer thin watches at Timeless, to the point that we often find ourselves using manual end movements over automatics. Of course, there’s no way we would skip utilizing the El Primero, so that wasn’t a feasible option, yet it is a testament to the technology of a motion from 1969 that the watch just had to become 13.75mm thick. That is hardly an ultra-thin, but in an era when even ordinary three hand watches are often 14mm or longer, it stays impressive.The El Primero movement is, undoubtedly, the largest change to this A273 origin material. The A273, fantastic as it had been, was powered with a more common, by a technical perspective, manually wound movement. Even the El Primero, conversely, isn’t simply a great motion, but it is a true legend. It is easily one of the two best known chronograph movements on the planet, another being the highly respected, although less prestigious, 7750. There are numerous reasons that the El Primero has stood the test of time at which so few different moves have. The first is the feature where it derives its name, especially that it is the first automated chronograph.The second, more impressive feature, however, is its remarkably large frequency. It beats 10 times per second, or 36,000 BPH, 25% quicker than an ordinary modern watch, but an astounding 100% quicker than many watches in the time it had been published. It quickly developed a strong reputation for precision and precision. Because it’s one of hardly any chronographs that defeats 10 times per second, it can also measure events in 0.1 second increments, supposing that your response time is up to the challenge.
If you want a modern Zenith El Primero watch that combines the heritage of the famed “hi beat” mechanical chronograph and modern materials in a classic looking package then these new for 2017 El Primero watches will be right up your alley. Black and white “panda dial” watches are enduringly beloved by us watch nerds, especially when brands don’t ruin them with too much extra color. What are these pretty looking new Zenith watches called? Unfortunately the names are rather derivative being the “Zenith El Primero 36,000 VPH.” Because, you know, that narrows them down to every single El Primero watch ever made. Or you can refer to them by their “watch latin” reference names of 24.2041.400/21.R576 and 24.2041.400/01.R576.
At 42mm wide the cases of the El Primero 36,000 VPH watches pictured here are ideally-sized, in my opinion. The cases are remarkably light being aluminum, but are coated in ceramic. Zenith calls them “ceramicised aluminum,” which is important because aluminum scratches easily and ceramic coatings do not. Don’t worry, you aren’t the first one to read that term and at a glance think we are talking about circumcised metal cases.
The matte black color is sporty and the 42mm case is just 12.75mm thick with 100 meters of water resistance in traditional El Primero style. Note the “box style” sapphire crystal which gives the watch a vintage look. I know I am harping on it at this point, but I really wish these watches had a more distinctive name… I’m thinking about just calling these models the El Primero Black & White, and the El Primero White & Black. You can decide which is which.
The standard El Primero dial style is marked by a mostly monochromatic color tone with the lightest hint of red in two of the chronograph hands. The timeless, classic look of black & white “panda dials,” make sporty chronograph watches like the El Primero 36,000 look their best. It also has the versatility to be suitable with a lot of attire options. That’s really the beauty of black and white… that it goes with pretty much everything. More so, rather than three distinct high-contrast subdials, you have three overlapping subdials which makes it look like you have an uplifting homage to Mickey Mouse on your wrist at all times. Zenith, the most El Primero place on earth!
Inside the Zenith El Primero 36,000 VPH is the in-house made Zenith caliber 400B automatic column-wheel movement. You can see the movement through the rear of the case’s sapphire crystal exhibition window. The movement operates at 5Hz (36,000 bph), which Zenith prefers to say is 36,000 vibrations per hour (“vph”). The date window is located 6 o’clock – and is among the more attractive date window on dial integrations on a sport watch you’ll find out there.
Attached to the matte black ceramicised aluminum case is a perforated black rubber strap. While it is comfortable on the wrist, I am not a big fan of how it looks. There are seemingly many interesting replacements that could work well on a Zenith Watch 6150 like this. I’m thinking a shiny alligator strap with silver (to match the dial’s light colors) stitching. Note that strap runs pretty large as well, so if you like this watch and have wrists my size, you’ll need to get a shorter strap, anyway.
My personal favorite of the two is the Zenith El Primero 36,000 VPH with the black dial and silvery white subdials that is the reference 24.2041.400/01.R576. Though that and the silver white with black subdial reference 24.2041.400/21.R576 is cool, as well. Price for each is $8,600. zenith-watches.com