Finds Vintage

Zenith El Primero A384


I will eye a period ladder bracelet on a Zenith with same the kind of enthusiasm most guys reserve for the rear of Emily Ratajkowski. Spotting one in the wild is probably also a rarer occurrence in Los Angeles. The A384 and even A386 were largely overshadowed by the other iconic chronographs of the 60s. The Speedmaster and Daytona were the zeitgeist. However, with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight, collectors have seen the El Primero design and its innovative hi-beat for what it was: genius.


No one actually knows who truly deserves the title of first automatic chronograph. I call the argument even as a result of convergent evolution. What is known is that Zenith was among contention for that top spot. What is also known is that their approach was a little more mechanically impressive. The caliber 3019 utilized a hi-beat escapement for precise chronograph timing. I recently had the opportunity to hold a 3019 and, when running, the caliber sounds like helicopter with its quick lever. This is vintage timing, but cutting edge vintage timing.


This example presents well. The case is marked with the signs of daily wear. That said, its bevels are very, very sharp. I would guess at the photos that the surface is unpolished. Its dial is faded but original. The tritium is faded and a bit uneven, but original. The ladder bracelet is original and correct. This is a watch which is not a safe queen, and I appreciate that. It comes from a small Italian retailer with no papers.

Find this A384 here on Chrono24 for 20000 USD.

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