1970s Zenith El Primero Automatic Chronograph (Ref. A385)

$ 4,850

The Zenith El Primero chronographs were unlike any other chronograph when it was released both aesthetically and mechanically. On January 10th, 1969, Zenith introduced the world's first automatic chronograph caliber, the 3019PHC El Primero, beating out Seiko and the Chronomatic group consisting of Breitling, Heuer, Hamilton, and Büren in the competition to build the first automatic chronograph.

What makes the A386 and the other Zenith El Primero-based chronographs true legends and icons is the number of watches outside of the Zenith brand that employed this legendary movement, most notable of which was the first self-winding Rolex Daytona, aka the "Zenith Daytona". Rolex used a modified version of El Primero until the brand released its own in-house automatic chronograph movement in the year 2000. 

3019PHC El Primero movement

3019PHC El Primero movement 

The Zenith ref. A385 is one of the most recognizable and beloved references from the brand and has even been reintroduced for the modern era. The original reference was produced in a very small batch, consisting of approximately 2,400 models in total from 1969-1970, and utilizes the iconic cal. 3019PHC El Primero movement. 


Stock # ZEPA385
Brand Zenith
Style El Primero Chronograph
Model A385
Serial 86XXXXX
Size Men's
Material Stainless Steel
Dial Brown "Vignette"
Millimeters 37.5
Strap 2pc Handmade Leather Strap


The charmingly geometrical case is in great condition, showing signs of gentle polishing in the past with the original angles and case chamfers intact. The case retains its original crown and pump pushers. The case back is adorned with the Zenith logo medallion and the case serial remains fully present. The watch comes supplied on a 2pc handmade leather strap.


The original brown vignette dial has a charming vintage aesthetic, showing some subtle elements of age throughout. The printing of the outer tachymeter scale is partially missing. The sub-dials exhibit some light aging and wear which is common for this model. The tritium in the hour markers has aged to a dark grey patina and show no degradation under UV light inspection. The original tritium hour and minute hands match the dial almost perfectly, under UV light inspection the center chronograph hand has aged to a soft orange patina and the lume has been restored with tritium to match the dial. The date wheel at 4 o'clock is partially stained, showing a bright orange patina through some of the numerals.


None. The watch just received a complete service and is keeping time perfectly, backed by a 1- year warranty on accurate timekeeping.

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