A3818 ‘Cover Girl’ Zenith El Primero
Make no mistake, this is no revival reissue. I once described Zenith’s easy, breezy, beautiful 1971 Cover Girl both legendary and seemingly unattainable, something of a Mewtwo amongst El Primeros. Obscure Pokémon references aside, that changed today when this gem was listed. The Cover Girl isn’t just a pretty dial, but one of the rarest and most nuanced El Primeros ever. For vintage hi-beat heroes, it really doesn’t get much better.
Manfred Rossler’s Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865 is one of the if not thee definitive texts of Zenith collecting. So what watch could possibly grace its exterior? You guessed it, hence the moniker. The Cover Girl was a small-production dial variant released just after the first-ever El Primeros. This dial embraced the 36000 vph beat rate by demarcating 300 fine marks accurate to one-fifth of a second, in line with the 5Hz pulse. The beautiful shark’s tooth seconds track pattern you see here is a result of practically seeking to visually display granularity this movement was capable of measuring. In addition, the four-line text signature is printed slightly differently than other El Primero references of the era. The dial is what many call petrol blue, but with contrasting subdial tracks in black and light blue. The aesthetic is bewitching.
Important points like the technically-advanced (taking seven years to develop) 3019 PHC remained. That calibre was housed in the highly-faceted tonneau-ish 37mm case first seen on the A384/5. Total production stopped at 1000 examples, as confirmed by Zenith SA. That makes this both one of the rarest and highly-collected Zeniths of all time. However, the modern-day obsession with rarity didn’t factory in Rossler’s decision. When asked why he chose the A3818 for his cover, he simply stated ‘The beautiful blue colour led to this decision. I like blue dials.’ As do we, Rossler. As do we.
This example has the kind of dial and case we very rarely see. Its angular surfaces are proud, with polished and brushed sections still sharply divided. If the case has seen a polish, it’s nothing abhorrent. The dial displays brilliantly, with little to no visible damage from its half century of existence. Tritium tones have yellowed, matched evenly in all applications. The movement has been serviced recently by the seller. It comes on a vintage textured NSA bracelet from a small retailer in Japan.
Find this A3818 Cover Girl here from Eguchi Japan for ~21000 USD.