Paying Homage to Heritage: Zenith Chronomaster Open
The Zenith Chronomaster Open gets a new lease of life, with a new movement and look. Yet it remains somehow the Chronomaster of old.
The beating heart of mechanical watchmaking became a very visible symbol of traditional watchmaking some 19 years ago, with the debut of the Zenith Chronomaster Open. Zenith and Frederic Constant were pioneers in this area, and, just as Gerd-Rudiger Lang did when he introduced the exhibition caseback in 1982, it literally changed how people viewed watchmaking. The open section of the dial showcasing the escapement has been a feature of Zenith watches since that time, in one way or another, but mostly in the background. It is with great pleasure that we report the brand has launched a fresh update for the OG Chronomaster Open for 2022. It is about time.
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At first glance, the new Chronomaster Open seems little changed from previous Open models, but this is of course hardly the case. To begin with, the 2022 Chronomaster Open is powered by the El Primero 3604, a variant of the 3600 calibre with 1/10th of a second chronograph function. In terms of features and specifications, nothing has changed but there has been some aesthetic reworking around the escapement (here with silicon escape wheel and lever) to improve its visibility. Frankly, that is a lot of work to go to just to accommodate a change in the dial, and we commend this sort of value-add – it is the kind of detail that collectors will enjoy. Yes, Zenith did not just make a cosmetic change with the aid of some marketing razzmatazz.
A minus for some collectors with the execution of the new calibre here is the exclusion of a date wheel, although since the movement has the same architecture it might include this feature in subsequent iterations. While we do not have an official statement on why the date is excluded (not that Zenith needs to explain itself), we surmise that this was done to promote a certain tidiness to the dial. Certainly the open configuration does lend itself to looking a bit cluttered and busy, especially when the chronograph is activated. There is obviously a lot going on dialside!
Zenith’s approach with the dial here is to reference various elements of its history, including the tricolour subdials of the A386. This design decision has also led to the introduction of a hesalite subdial for the running seconds, which was previously completely exposed (indications were via a pointer and flange). Cleanliness is also a priority with the case, now sans sporty bezel of any kind. The new Chronomaster Open is thus more of an elegant chronograph rather than a sporty one, which is an interesting decision. Zenith chronographs are very desirable (many variants have long wait lists) so adding yet another variation might make sense. Note that this new Chronomaster Open is not an addition to the range; it replaces the old Open range. Aside from the steel version listed here, there is also a rose gold version.
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