22 Jun Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow Watch Review
A timepiece conceived before its time: Introducing the Chronomaster Revival Shadow
A Zenith mystery, an obscure prototype uncovered at a pivotal moment, inspiring the creation of the Chronomaster Revival “Shadow”.
This elusive timepiece has been shrouded in mystery for many years. The story goes that in 1970, not long after Zenith debuted the revolutionary El Primero calibre, a prototype was produced; a manual-winding chronograph housed in a blackened steel case. Some of the watchmakers and longtime employees had heard of and might have even seen one of the extremely rare prototypes but it remained to be an enigma.
As Zenith began celebrating the 50th anniversary of its El Primero movement in 2019 the team began to go through the secret walled-off attic at the factory in Le Locle, Switzerland, where the company began in 1865; where they discovered a myriad of artefacts.
This attic was the location where senior engineer Charles Vermot had once hidden all the plans and parts necessary to produce the El Primero movement as, under new ownership, focus was placed on producing the cheaper and easier to manufacture quartz movements in the 1970’s.
Together with tools, drawings and other discontinued models was the original prototype of the black chronograph, not seen by anybody since it was hidden away. Believed to be more than just a coincidence, but that fate was calling and it was decided that the timing was perfect to complete the project nearly 50 years after it had begun.
Rather than directly reproducing the historical Zenith timepiece the Chronomaster Revival “Shadow” reimagines what might have been.
Inspired by the original prototype the Shadow is housed in a 37m case, a reproduction of the very first watch fitted with the El Primero, the A384, a key difference being the colouring. To achieve the desired matt black finish whilst also bringing out the dark grey nuances of the metal, Zenith opted to microblast Titanium rather than simply applying a black coating to the metal – creating an exquisite colour contrast.
The prototype from 1970 featured a hand-wound chronograph movement. The Chronomaster Revival Shadow instead features the El Primero which 51 years after being launched, is still regarded to be one of the best and most precise chronograph mechanisms, which is visible through the display back.
The Shadow remains highly legible despite its dark demeanour; the tachymeter scale subtly contrasts against the matt black dial, grey counters and the hands and applied markers are filled with white SuperLuminova that glow in low light. The smart black rubber strap is completed with the “Cordura effect” and a touch of white on the stitching. To match the case, the strap is fixed with a microblasted titanium pin buckle.
Model: Chronomaster Revival "Shadow"
Reference Number: 97.T384.4061/21.C822
Case Material: Microblasted titanium
Dial Color: Black matte with grey counters
Lume: Super-LumiNova SLN C1
Water Resistance: 50 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Black "Cordura effect", white stitching, titanium buckle to match case finish.
Caliber: El Primero 4061 Automatic
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, 12-hour chronograph with 30-minute counter.
Power Reserve: 50 hours
Frequency: 36,000 (5 Hz)
Price: CHF 8,400