Timeless is very excited to introduce you to our second Zenith limited edition, the Chronomaster Final Edition. We’ve called it the Final Edition because this will be the last time the Chronomaster is offered in this specific 38mm case. As a sendoff to what was, in our opinion, the ideal El Primero, we’ve created a very limited run of 38 pieces. In the process, we made a series of small, but significant, tweaks to make it both bolder and more timeless, no pun intended. Whereas our last Zenith was unapologetically vintage in design, with a very specific inspiration, the Final Edition aims for something quite the opposite. It’s designed to not to look like any particular El Primero of the past, and yet somehow resemble all of them. As various blogs are already writing independent reviews of the watch, I thought I could best add to the conversation by walking you through our design process, which is at least a view that only Timeless can provide, so join me as I explain in excessive detail how each color and element was chosen and why.
For the Final Edition, there were a few key details that we knew we wanted. Like our A273-inspired limited edition that came before, we knew wanted the 38mm case, as this is, in our opinion, the ideal size of the El Primero. Granted, in this instance, it was a bit of a foregone conclusion as the project began because of the discontinuation of our favorite case, but we would have been using the 38mm case one way or another. Not only is it the size of the original El Primero back in ’69, it’s a size that has remained viable throughout the subsequent 50+ years, and, I must assume, shall stay viable in the 50 to come.
The key to the Final Edition is, quite simply, color. More time was spent on perfecting the colors and the arrangement of the colors than everything else combined. It’s called the tri-color dial, after all, one of the most iconic designs in watchmaking history, so it stands to reason that it deserves some emphasis when approached anew. If the key to the Final Edition is color, then the key to the color is red, or rather, this very specific version of blood red. It’s not quite dark enough to be maroon, yet not so bright as to draw all of the attention away from the rest of the watch. The same color is used for the chronograph seconds hand in addition to the accents on the two chronograph subdial hands; that is to say, the red is the unifying element across all three subdials.
Using multiple colors has always been a challenge for us when designing LEs. If you look back over our numerous previous limited editions, we almost always only use two colors when the second color is merely an accent. Here both blue and red are very prominent, but to make that work aesthetically, we had to make everything else more subtle. The very specific white, for instance, was a delicate balancing act. A “polar” white would have been far too bold, and too modern, for the look we were going for. The solution was to go with something warmer, like an eggshell or cream, but if we introduced too much of a yellow hue to the dial, it would make the watch look distinctly vintage. So we ended up with something in between them; we settled on calling it opaline, but this is more a consequence of us failing to find this exact, precise white in a standardized color palette. Suffice it to say, it’s off-white.
Critically, faux-vintage lume was avoided for this project in favor of the more contemporary style because (A) we think it looks better and (B) it would have meant the Final Edition was easily placed as a vintage-themed watch instead of being something more timeless. The texture was very important too. The Final Edition, aside from being quite colorful, has virtually no shiny surfaces on the dial, excepting, of course, the steel hour markers. Gone are the sunburst subdials, which, although I admittedly like most of the time, were simply too shouty for the look we were going for. It’s a difficult balancing act to have a red and blue subdial on the same watch while simultaneously trying to make it subdued, so every other design element was metaphorically “turned down” a notch.
The restraint continues beyond the color selection to what’s on, or rather what isn’t on, the dial itself. First, there is the obvious, and for those who have observed our past limited editions, predictable: there is no date. Aside from perhaps the 410, which made the calendar its centerpiece, the date has usually been a tight fit on El Primeros, often residing at 4:30 or at 6:00. In typical Timeless fashion, we’ve sidestepped the entire issue and just removed it. The El Primero is, at least for me, all about the chronograph, so the date felt superfluous from the get go.
The more interesting change is the elimination of any unnecessary text at 12:00. The Final Edition isn’t the only Chronomaster with minimal text, of course, but quite often you’ll find the words “CHRONOGRAPH” and “AUTOMATIC,” one above the other. That an El Primero is (A) automatic and (B) a chronograph seems to be among the best known facts in the entire history of watchmaking, and therefore the writing feels quite unnecessary. We did retain the embellished El Primero writing, better tying it to the original ’69 model as relative to the more common (reissues exempted, naturally) plain EL PRIMERO print on many modern Chronomasters. Oddly, I think that the El Primero writing on the dial is one of my favorite parts of this watch.
Today we’re showing the Final Edition on the bracelet, but the production version will also come with three calf leather straps, one red, one blue, and one gray, all with contrast stitching, to perfectly accent the dial, along with a deployant clasp. Two versions of the Final Edition are offered, one with three straps and one with the three straps plus this bracelet, all of which will include a strap changing tool. The 38 unit run, however, is not 38 per style; that’s 38 between them total. It’s our hope that owners find it as versatile as we do and will change straps (or bracelet) on a whim to suit whatever look they want that day. Due to its moderate size and restrained execution, we’d like to see this be an everyday watch. As per the photography, the watch we’re looking at here is just a prototype and the straps weren’t yet available for this all-important week in the watch world, so hopefully we’ll have more photos in the near future to show off what it’ll look like on the straps; I particularly like the gray strap myself.
Returning to the “prototype” theme, this particular case back isn’t precisely the one that’ll come on the full version (hence it’s artfully out of focus). Worry not, however, as, in typical Timeless fashion, we’ve eschewed any clumsy brand tie-ins. Indeed, the production case back doesn’t mention Timeless at all (nor does any other part of the watch). Rather, the only differences you’ll find between this LE’s back and its production predecessor is a limited edition #/38 number and the name of the model (Final Edition) written on the steel back. The view of the beautiful El Primero remains entirely unobstructed.
We hope that you find the Final Edition a fitting sendoff for one of the most beloved watches Zenith has thus far made (and certainly one of our favorites at Timeless). Each watch will come in a special box and include a plaque, in addition to the three leather straps (plus a bracelet, if so ordered), a deployant clasp, and a strap tool, so it’s a fairly kitted-out release. The Final Edition is available sans-bracelet for $8,800, and if you want to include the bracelet they’re $9,850. Given that the bracelet also appears to be being discontinued, unless you already have a 38mm Zenith bracelet you can use, I’d probably get the bracelet version as otherwise you might not have that option down the road (plus I think it looks tremendous on bracelet). As I mentioned earlier, 38 of these will be available, and that’s 38 total shared between bracelet and leather orders, so it’s an extremely limited run.
If you’d like to pre-order yours, you can click here for the Final Edition on leather or here for the Final Edition on leather plus bracelet. The pre-order deposit is $1,000, which goes to the total purchase price, and is easily refundable at any time and for any reason before your watch arrives. We’re expecting the first Final Editions to ship in June, so the wait isn’t too long now.
Amazingly, we’ve already sold out of the new Final Edition! Please fill out your name and e-mail below if you’d like to be on the waitlist in case there are any cancellations. We apologize to anyone who wasn’t able to get a Final Edition in time, but don’t worry, there will be more Timeless limited edition designs to come.