Finds Vintage

Genesis of Modern Zenith: the A386

Zenith-El-Primero-A386

Very little stirs the ‘purchase now’ instinct in me like the A386 El Primero these days. The monumentally innovative reference appeals to all my senses. Its design is attractive, the contrasted big-eye subs uniquely lovely. The automatic cal 3019 is as gorgeous as it was groundbreaking. It’s also a complete sleeper to the general population. Watch people recognize this as an icon. Non-watch people might be able to categorize it as any generic vintage chronograph. That, it is most definitely not.

Zenith-El-Primero-A386

Zenith’s recipe was fairly straightforward here. First, take the (or one of the) first-ever automatic chronograph movements. Make it a hi-beat for increased precision and because you can. Go tri-color on the subs. Restrain the case to a tasteful 38mm with angular lug design, a bit shark-nosed. Voila, you have an icon of the last century—A386. Although you see the A386’s influence across many other styles of Zenith chronograph, just 4500 were actually produced in this original flavor.

Zenith-El-Primero-A386

Although the market has risen considerably in the last few years, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to say that these are still a value. The limited quantity (in combination with few remaining in strong condition) and genuine iconic status I feel are sure to see these increase in collectibility.

And to speak of strong condition, that’s exactly what we see here. The main thing to note is that the dial and handset are service replacements. That said, the dial has no spots or discoloring. The hands and their lume are evenly aged. The case appears strong, though it may have seen some polish. The crystal is totally unmarked, possibly a service job but can’t say for sure. All told, it’s a lovely thing. The watch is said to be running well but service history is unkown. It comes from a well-known retailer in Subdial.

Find this A386 here from Subdial for 10950 GBP.

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