Now here’s something that quite literally arrived from out of nowhere...
Nobody was really expecting Zenith’s latest release – but perhaps the whole point of a stealth watch is that you don’t see it coming? Personally, I’ve always loved Zenith, and this one is truly special, in terms of both looks and history. It’s a watch that was in every sense created ahead of its time but has only just seen the light of day now: 50 years after its conception.
Cash in the attic?
Here’s the story that Zenith tell us. As the company was gearing up for the 50th birthday celebrations of the famous El Primero movement, the team began going through the famous boarded-up attic last year in the company’s headquarters, where Charles Vermot had once hidden all the blueprints and tooling for the El Primero – fearful that the era of mechanical watches was coming to an end (you can read more about this in our piece on the A384 Revival – the first watch to be fitted with the El Primero movement – here.)
What they found, among many other treasures, was a box containing the original prototype of a mysterious black chronograph that nobody had heard about since the 1970s. This original ‘shadow’ watch prototype was a manual-winding chronograph in a blackened steel case – and you only have to imagine how avant-garde this looked half a century ago. Only a few of these prototypes were made and none were ever officially sold, but incredibly, one surfaced right here.
Bringing it up to date
What Zenith has revealed now is far from an exact replica of that watch, but instead a stylish re-imagining to bring it firmly up to date with the modern world. Rather than black steel, the 37mm case (the same size as the A384 Revival, but smaller than the 41mm original) is in micro-blasted titanium.
This brings out the texture of the case perfectly, thanks to that alluring dark grey colour. Despite the fact that this is very much a monochrome watch, it seems surprisingly legible from the photos, with white contrasting hands and indices (which glow green in the dark) against the matte black dial. The other important difference to the original is that the Chronomaster Revival Shadow is no longer manual winding, thanks to the latest automatic El Primero movement from Zenith.
The ‘shadow’ comes with a black rubber and textile strap, adding to the stealth look, with some white stitching. It’s not a limited edition, so should be around for a while.
Case: 37mm micro-blasted titanium
Strap: Black rubber
Dial: Matte black dial, luminous hands and indices
Price: 8,400 CHF
This ticks all the boxes for me: a beautiful watch, following on in a fantastic tradition, with a great story behind it. I like the way that rather than just copy what they found, Zenith really thought about its creator’s intentions: to produce something that was properly avant-garde, which would surprise and delight in equal measure. They got it spot-on, and their skills at story-telling are just as advanced as those in watch-making.
Be sure to head over to the Zenith website to find out more.
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