By Gordon Henderson
Unveiled at Watches and Wonders 2022, the new Zenith Chronomaster Open collection had some jaws dropping. The line sits under their “Masters of Chronographs Since 1865” platform, which taps into the brand’s rich horological history and, as the year would indicate, the year the brand was founded.
One of the complications Zenith is famous for pioneering is the chronograph function with its El Primero line. Many know the history of Zenith’s chronograph movement powering Rolex’s Daytona from 1988 through 2000. Part of the notoriety Zenith has gained for their work with the chronograph complication has come in the form of a number of world firsts and record-setting levels of accuracy — due in part to their development of the first automatic chronograph to beat at a frequency of 36,000 vibrations per hour allowing for timing to the 1/10 of a second. The 1/10th of a second accuracy was then eclipsed by the brand increasing the accuracy to 1/100th of a second. Both are highly coveted by collectors.
Originally launched in 2003, the Chronomaster Open was the first chronograph to feature a partially open-worked dial to allow for a view of the regulating organ and escapement. This year the piece returns in a redesigned form and a slightly more modern 39.5 mm case. Offered in either stainless steel or rose gold, the watches boast Zenith’s iconic tri-color dial layout, but with a new twist: more inner workings are revealed than ever before.
Instead of displaying just the small seconds counter at the 9 o’clock position, as occurred in prior models, the open-worked portion showcases three circular openings with chamfered edges. Thanks to a Hesalite crystal, a view of the silicone star-shaped escape wheel is made possible.
The movement has also been given an upgrade to the El Primero 3604 calibre. The 3604 calibre is based off of the much-loved El Primero 3600 1/10th of a second automatic high frequency calibre, with more of an open architecture layout. The new movement offers 1/10th of a second indicator and beats to the high requeceny of 5Hz. It offers 60 hours of power reserve and is water resistant to 10atm.
Pricing for the models is $10,000 for the piece in stainless steel version, with a choice of black or white dial on stainless steel bracelet or a Cordura strap. The rose gold piece is available for $21,300 and comes on a navy blue calfskin leather strap with gold triple folding clasp.
Technical Specs of the Zenith Chronomaster Open
Key points: Automatic El Primero column-wheel chronograph able to measure and display 1/10thof a second. Opening revealing the legendary beating heart of the El Primero movement. Silicon escape-wheel and lever. Increased power reserve of 60 hours. Stop-second mechanism.
Movement: El Primero 3604 automatic, 36,000 VpH (5 Hz, approx. 60 hours power reserve
Functions : 1/10th of a second chronograph functions. Hours and minutes in the centre. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, Central chronograph hand that makes one turn in 10 seconds, 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, 60-second counter at 3 o’clock
Finishes: New star-shaped oscillating weight with satin finishings
Price $10,000 USD
Material: Stainless Steel
Water resistance: 10 ATM
Dial: Black matte with two different-coloured counters & a translucent polymer counter
Hour markers: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with ” SuperLuminova SLN C1
Hands : Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with ” SuperLuminova SLN C1
Bracelet & Buckle: Metal Bracelet with a double folding clasp