1969 was quite the year. Aside from Omega’s all-time greatest product placement, the Swiss were manufacturing some seriously attractive metal. There was the iconic Speedmaster, the 6263 Daytona, and the El Primero. Zenith’s chronograph did not receive attention in proportion to the impressiveness of its engineering in period. The El Primero has really only been recognized for the accomplishment it was posthumously. Nonetheless, it’s worth admiring even some fifty years later.
Just who deserves the title of first ever automatic chronograph manufacture remains disputed by horological historians to this day. It suffices to say that Zenith were certainly in contention for the top spot. This A384 is amongst the first releases. It is also accurate to say that their approach was more impressive. The El Primero utilized a caliber 3019 with a hi-beat escapement for better precision in chronograph timing. When you pair that caliber with a tonneau case and Gay Frères ladder bracelet, the resulting package of cutting-edge-vintage is irresistible.
The example shown here is a very strong one. All components are original. Its panda dial sports light yellow tritium and matching handset. The case is unpolished with a signed crown. Its ladder bracelet is a rare bonus find, original and in strong condition to match. I wouldn’t hesitate with this one if you are interested. Unless you’re a box and papers collector, this is the vintage Zenith to get.
Find this A384 here from Watches of Knightsbridge for 17458 USD.