The Zenith El Primero, in almost any guise, is an attractive proposition. There’s something intangibly alluring about owning an automatic chronograph that was made by the inventor of the complication. The El Primero is to automatic chronographs what Mercedes Benz are to the automobile: first. Over its 50 year history, there have been highs and lows. The Defy Xtreme springs to mind as a bountiful era of lows. But the most attractive? Well, there’s a strong argument to be made for the A385. Particularly this Cappuccino brown A385. It’s marvelous.
I’m not alone in my affection. To celebrate the model’s 50th, Zenith released a re-edition. However, I find the classic proportion and slight weathering of an original make a doubly sexy proposition. The original A385 came with a grey fume that would turn a mild tropical brown with sun exposure. These topicalized pieces are often referred to as cappuccino dials. It is a very gorgeous dial for a very gorgeous watch. The cal 3019 PHC is an evolution of their iconic A386 ‘El Primero’ automatic chronograph. The thing is surprisingly robust considering how innovative it was. The angular mild-Tonneau case is a unique design for this generation of Zenith chronograph. The faceted polished faces make a lovely silhouette on the wrist. I’ve only ever had the pleasure to try on one at a Redbar and it made a lasting impression. I long for this beauty to reside in my watch box to this day.
While this example was clearly exposed to some sun, it shows remarkably little wear elsewhere. The 37mm case, crown, dial, and pushers are correct and original. Normal marks on the case but edges are sharp. Its movement is entirely uncorroded and I don’t see many wear points on the screw heads. It’s a lovely example of a watch which is rare to come across at best. If you’re in the market for a Revival A385, I would urge you to consider this example. It comes without box and papers, but from a well regarded seller in Sigfrid at Watches83. Better yet, it’s not even expensive by comparison.
Find this Zenith A385 on offer here from Watches83 Barcelona for 6615 EUR.