Zenith El Primero 410: A new year, a new El Primero. Until now, we’ve never featured any Zenith timepieces and in all honesty we actually do have a bit of a soft spot for El Primero’s, especially the A386 – which if we do manage to get our hands-on this year will definitely feature. Now, Zenith became famous for being one of the first watchmaking companies to develop an automatic winding chronograph movement but this subject is still a little bit of a grey area? We will hopefully shed some light on this fact in the coming weeks ahead.
The new El Primero 410 features the Calibre 410 movement, which itself has some history. As mentioned above, the El Primero had the first ever integrated automatic chronograph, which was also equipped with a date and a tachometric scale. That in itself was already an impressive feat, backed by exceptional precision since the calibre beat at the exceptional speed of 36,000 vibrations an hour, corresponding to 1/10th of a second precision. Zenith further rolled back the boundaries of its art by equipping its calibre – that had become an instant watch industry icon – with triple calendar and moon phase indications. The name of this movement born in 1969 was the El Primero 3019 PHF, later referenced as 410.
45 years after its creation, the El Primero Calibre 410 has evolved in various ways – including having a complete model named after it and finding its way back into the legendary El Primero collection. Introduced in 2013 with a silver-toned dial, it reproduces the original function layout in a distinctive spirit. The days and months are positioned at 10 and 2 o’clock respectively, while the date remains imperturbably enthroned between 4 and 5 o’clock just like those of the 1970’s. Merging into the hour sub-dial at 6 o’clock, the moon phase depicts the revolutions of the night star through a special-shaped aperture with two rounded cut-outs reproducing the dark side of the moon. The latter thus reveals its successive phases – and faces – throughout its cycle (waxing moon, full moon, waning moon, new moon). The disc bearing two moons is driven by a 59-toothed wheel corresponding to two lunar cycles (2 x 29.5 days).
The use of the in-house made complication of El Primero Calibre 410 displays Zenith’s calculated judgment to use this iconic and classic movement. While Zenith have preserved the authentic character of an iconic 20th century icon, it has succeeded in infusing it with “that little something extra” that imparts a modern touch. Appearing in a contemporary 42 mm size, the steel case displays decidedly on-trend curves with alternating polished and brushed finishes. The round chronograph pushers keep their originality, while the snailed counters create a subtle contrast with the sunray dial motif. Rimmed by the tachometric scale on the opaline inner bezel ring, the rhodium hour-markers stand out clearly and while the dial may look a little busy – this ensures perfect readability. The El Primero Calibre 410 reveals its fascinating 390-part mechanism through the sapphire crystal case-back.
In conclusion, this is indeed an awesome vintage-inspired timepiece that actually uses the iconic 410 in-house Zenith movement. The El Primero 410 is limited to 500 pieces and is priced at €8,1o0 before tax. For more information visit the official Zenith website.