Comebacks are a tricky thing to pull off — you can only really stage a good one if the original release made waves and pulled enough attention. For people to care about long-lost heirlooms, there must, of course, be a burning desire more potent than nostalgia. Which is all to say the Zenith El Primero A384 is staging a comeback — a potentially memorable one, at that.

In commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the famed El Primero, known as the world’s first automatic chronograph, Zenith is recreating the groundbreaking watch for modern times. The watchmaker unveiled its latest creation in New York City. What we have now is a reverse-engineered variant of the original classic, able to measure time intervals to one tenth of a second.

Beyond that, the El Primero A384 gains a few modern tricks as well. For starters, it boasts the 278-part El Primero 400 chronograph movement. There’s a sapphire crystal window and a transparent case back rounding out the luxurious look and feel across the board. On top of that, you get a 37mmm faceted matte-finished steel case and a lacquered black-and-white tachymeter. Those latter two are a nod to the original, and we’re fully into it.

To be sure, this isn’t an exact replica. Even Zenith CEO Julien Tornare admits as much:

“We can’t create an exact replica because times have changed and so has technology.”

The design, however, remains faithful to the preceding classic.

“We use a new state-of-the-art movement, and we added sapphire crystals and an open caseback. Otherwise, the design is exact.”


Photos courtesy of Zenith