There are iconic watches that are born to continue pioneering new heights in innovation, and then there are iconic watches that are best remembered as vintage masterpieces. Zenith’s groundbreaking A385 model arguably falls under the latter.
Making its debut in 1969, the A385 went down in horological history as one of the three earliest models to be equipped with the Zenith El Primero, the world’s first high-frequency chronograph with automatic winding. It was also the first model ever to feature a “smoked dial” with a brown gradient effect.
The next year, it made headlines in Zenith’s “Operation Sky” which saw the watch enduring external aggressions such as drastic temperature fluctuations, wind force and changing air pressure while being strapped to the landing gear of an Air France Boeing 707. This was a testament to the El Primero movement’s superiority over other quartz movements of its time, thereafter powering many other models by Zenith and even the Rolex Daytona.
More than 50 years on today, the A385 is making a comeback in the form of a Chronomaster Revival model. This isn’t just another vintage-inspired creation, but an actual reproduction of the original model via a “reverse engineering” process.
Manufactured using the original blueprint and production plans, the Revival version remains faithful to the original’s 37mm tonneau-shaped stainless steel case, down to the pump-style pushers. Distinguishing it are but two elements: the domed sapphire crystal instead of an acrylic glass, and a display back offering an unobstructed view of the El Primero 400 chronograph movement instead of a closed solid steel case back.
While staying true to the smoked brown gradient dial, the Chronomaster Revival A385 is available in two remake options that exude 1969 vibes. One comes with a steel “ladder” bracelet that’s a modern take on the Gay Frères bracelets in early El Primero watches; the second comes with a light brown calf leather strap that will age as well as the movement itself.
The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385 is available at Zenith Boutiques and online shop, as well as at authorised retailers around the world.