Watches: Zenith El Primero 410 Complete Calendar Chronograph (+live pics)

By Thierry Ané on March 6, 2014

For all of us, the year 1969 is remembered as the first time men walked on the moon. For watch lovers, it is also the year that Zenith unveiled its most famous powerhouse, the El Primero movement. This revolutionary calibre, also known as the “3019 PHC”, was the first ever integrated automatic chronograph. It is so successful that it remains at the heart of Zenith’s watches today and even gave its name to the El Primero collection.

Advanced watch connoisseurs will also be aware that a variation of this calibre, known as the “3019 PHF” was also introduced that same year. Later referenced as the El Primero 410, this 5 Hertz (or 36,000 vph) calibre combined the performances of the world’s most accurate automatic chronograph with complete calendar and moon phase indications.

This outstanding movement was found at the heart of many of the Manufacture’s creations until the year 2000 when it fell into oblivion (very much like the brand itself during its Nataf years!). Last year though, Jean-Frédéric Dufour had the excellent idea of bringing the El Primero 410 back to life in a beautiful El Primero 410 Limited Edition model that was produced in only 500 pieces. This year, the brand unveils a non-limited version: the El Primero 410 Complete Calendar Chronograph.

This piece of fine watchmaking comes in a stainless steel case of contemporary dimensions (42 mm in diameter for a thickness of 12.75 mm) with an overall vintage 1970s look. Nevertheless, compared to models of that period, the case has been redesigned to suit modern tastes: the bezel and lugs have been slightly curved and the chronograph pushers are a little rounded.

The silver-toned dial manages to remain uncluttered despite the abundance of information: two small apertures for the day of the week and the month respectively sit on top of the small seconds at 9 o’clock and the 30-minute chronograph counter at 3 o’clock. To perfect the symmetry, the hours counter for the chronograph lies at 6 o’clock and includes the moon phase indication. The date is positioned in a discreet window between 4 and 5 o’clock.

Not only is the dial perfectly legible, but it is also a model of refinement with enough alternating finish to highlight the different displays. The sub-dials are gently snail-finished to contrast nicely with the silver-toned sunray effect of the rest of the dial. It is surrounded by an opaline inner bezel ring with a tachymeter scale. The rhodium-plated hour markers are faceted and filled with SuperLuminova like all the hands of this stunning watch, except of course for the blue central chronograph seconds hand with the emblematic Zenith star on the tip.

This elegant watch is presented on a dark brown alligator strap secured by a folding stainless steel buckle. With a price tag of $11,000, this is yet another true piece of fine watchmaking offered at a bargain price by a brand that continues to impress with remarkable models with outstanding movements and spot-on designs.

For a technical description of the timepiece and additional pictures: