Everyone loves an underdog story. We root for Argentina. Critics fawn when a shed-built Lotus edges out a Porsche. It’s why hipsters exist, always trying to hop on the small but rising trend. But when two underdogs collaborate? I really struggle to think of successes. For example, the recent Fiat 124 was a collaboration between a withering Fiat and cash-strapped Mazda. But they got it the wrong way round, Japanese looks with Italian reliability. El Tesoro Tequila once released an añejo aged in Laphroaig scotch barrels. It was undrinkable, and made a tequila I once had in Tijuana with a dead snake in it seem like a cocktail served by Lynnette Marrero. Only once has a double underdog created brilliance: Zenith and Movado.
The pair teamed up in 1969 to share knowledge, movements, and cases. Both are recent collector darlings, but this is perhaps their least-discussed dual-branded chronograph. In Zenith, this is known as the A3736. With a Movado dial, it’s the very dull sounding 206-705-504. The Movado is the less common and bolder of the pair, with a blindingly orange internal rotating bezel. This is a very 70s 40mm steel dive chronograph. Dive chronographs have never made logical sense to me as a category, why would anyone dive with a watch which can’t be operated properly underwater? You have to set and forget it. But this one, well, it’s just too playfully attractive to apply logic to. Look, no one makes Patrick Dempsey sit an MCAT and yet he’s still a doctor in everyone’s mind, don’t think too hard about it.
There’s depth behind the exterior as well. Inside beats a surprisingly pretty 146HP, one of the last manual chronograph movements Movado made before switching over to the new El Primero calibre. There’s a handset shape you’re unlikely to see anywhere else. Its logo is applied and and the crowns are signed. Despite these efforts, it sold terribly in period. Today, they’re about as uncommon as spotting Mr. Dempsey out in the wild. Which I randomly did, a brief encounter at Pebble Beach a few years ago. Nice guy, he’ll talk your ear off about Porsches as long as you don’t mention that acting thing. Pity then, he probably wouldn’t like this, truly an underdog Lotus of dive chronographs if ever there were one.
The case on this example is great. Light to moderate surface wear but with sharp edges and a strong profile. The dial shows little damage, often these are in a far worse state. Truly one of the better I’ve seen. No spotting on the subdials and its tritium is all still present, an even light cream tone. Moreover, it’s a value. It comes from a well-regarded private collector. Feel free to send me a note if you don’t have Instagram to reach him.