Zenith Revives a Mystery Prototype From 1970

Inspired by an obscure prototype from 1970, Zenith creates the Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”

Legend has it that back in 1970, not long after Zenith debuted the groundbreaking El Primero calibre, the manufacture had produced a prototype of a manual-winding chronograph housed in a blackened steel case, which was a rarity for the time. Only a handful of this spectral prototype was made and the model was never officially produced or commercialized.

Fast-forward to 2019—as Zenith began celebrating the 50th anniversary of the seminal El Primero chronograph calibre—the team at the manufacture began to go through the secret walled-off attic where Charles Vermot had once hidden all the plans and parts necessary to produce the El Primero movement at the height of the Quartz Crisis. Long story short, the team found the original prototype of the black chronograph that hadn’t been seen by anyone since the early 1970s.

Moving on to this year, as the team agreed that the timing was perfect to complete the black chronograph project that had begun almost 50 years ago, Zenith finally reimagined what could have been, rather than directly reproducing a historical Zenith timepiece. The result is The Chronomaster Revival Shadow.

Inspired heavily by the aforementioned black chronograph prototype from 1970, this watch is housed in a 37mm case as a faithful reproduction of the very first watch fitted with the El Primero, the A384.

However, instead of the traditional choice of stainless steel with a superficial layer of black coating, the brand has opted for micro-blasted titanium in order to bring out the dark gray nuances of the lightweight yet highly durable metal with a completely matte finish.

On top of that, the Chronomaster Revival Shadow now features the El Primero—which is visible through the caseback—unlike the prototype from 1970, which features a manual-winding chronograph movement.

Design wise, in spite of its dark demeanor, the Shadow remains a highly legible chronograph with gray counters and a tachymeter scale which contrasts subtly against the deep, matte black dial. Furthermore, the hands and applied markers are filled with white Super-Luminova that emits a bright green glow in the dark.

The watch is then completed with a black rubber strap featuring a “cordura-effect” and a touch of white on the stitching. All in all, it’s safe to say that Zenith’s Chronomaster Revival Shadow successfully brings a mystery from the seventies to life.