Zenith El Primero 36,000 VpH: We review the new luxury chronograph


When one mentions the legendary El Primero watch, it’s usually in reference to its high-frequency movement. Most overlook the fact that the name also represents an emblematic design that’s instantly recognisable: three counters originally in anthracite, blue and light grey symbolising the functionality of a mechanism that has played a prominent role in Zenith’s portfolio since 1969. The aesthetic has undergone countless iterations over the years in terms of materials, styles and colours, and now comes in contrasting panda and reverse-panda configurations (basically white dial with black registers and vice versa), a colourway revived thanks to the fad for vintage chronographs.

Besides the eye-catching look, the two new El Primero 36,000 VpH models feature an intense black ceramised aluminium case, previously seen only on the El Primero Range Rover Special Edition. The modern case material is essentially aluminium coated with ceramic via electrolytic oxidation, and boasts the lightness of the former and scratch-resistance of the latter. Inside, of course, is an updated version of Zenith’s horological signature the El Primero 400B calibre, a high-beat, column wheel chronograph with 50-hour power reserve. Both 42mm chronographs are secured with sporty perforated rubber straps, completing the monochromatic attire of this latest model.