1970s Zenith El Primero (Ref. A386)

The Zenith El Primero ref. A386 was 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. Carrying the Calibre 3019 PHC. The A386 was a born classic with its drastically recognizable tri-color overlapping subdials, eye-catching red sweep second hand, and its original and distinctively unique ladder style bracelet.

What makes the A386 and the other Zenith El Primero-based chronographs true legends and icons is to think about the many watches outside of the Zenith brand that features this legendary movement, which of course, includes the first self-winding Rolex Daytona, aka the "Zenith Daytonas." Rolex used a modified version of El Primero until the brand released its own in-house automatic chronograph movement in the year 2000. 

The example we are featuring remains in overall stunning shape and has acquired a delightful patina. The dial has aged to a rich cream color, yet the tri-color sub-dials remain vibrant. The original red enameled sweep seconds hand jumps off the dial and catches the eye, and the minute and hour hands have achieved the same warm and inviting patina much like the dial. The case remains intact, showing its original geometry, and the watch comes with its Zenith-stamped, original Gay Fréres ladder bracelet, clasp, ZJ end-links. This A386 is not only worthy of time on the wrist but retains all the key elements that make this worthy of adding into the collection as examples that remain in this condition are becoming scarce and extremely hard to find.

3019PHC El Primero movement

3019PHC El Primero movement 



Stock # ZEPA386-1
Brand Zenith
Style El Primero Chronograph
Model A386
Serial 852DXXX
Size Men's
Material Stainless Steel
Dial White/ 3-Color Sub-Dials
Millimeters 38
Bracelet Zenith Grey Fréres ladder bracelet, ZJ end-links


The MK3 case was likely polished in the past yet remains in superb overall condition, showing thick and symmetrical case geometry with slight bevels remaining present. The original pump-pushers and "large circle" crown remain in a wonderful condition, much like the case. The MK3 caseback displays a deep and visible serial number. The watch comes with its original Zenith-stamped, Gay Fréres ladder bracelet, clasp, ZJ end-links. The bracelet shows normal stretch from use.


The original El Primero dial with tri-color sub-dials is in excellent condition showing no blemishes and an even and warm patina throughout, the sub-dials remain exceptionally clean as well. The original tritium-filled hands show some darkening which is common and expected from age. When inspected under U.V. light, both the tritium on the dial and within the hands remains intact and shows no visible lume loss.


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