Zenith’s newest timepiece is a homage to the 1969 El Primo movement and their latest appointment—official timekeeper of the Tour Auto Optic 2000. The El Primero Chronomaster 1969 Tour Auto Edition is not only a celebration of the brand’s first foray into historic car racing, but also marks the 150th anniversary of the company. While the label’s history is rife with sporting accomplishments, from the Spindrift sailing team to Felix Baumgartner’s flight through the stratosphere to break the sound barrier, the brand has only recently moved into the car racing circuit. But it looks like they’re hoping for a more permanent position with their new timepiece.
In 1969 the company introduced the El Primero movement—one of the first integrated automatic chronographs. (Others were made the same year by Tag Heuer, Breitling and Hamilton-Büren.) It is also, to this day, one of the most precise movements with accuracy to within one-tenth of a second. The latest version is given a “sporty touch” and clearly designed for classic car aficionados. Racing stripes run across the dial and a window in the watch face gives the wearer a view of the timeless 1969 movement—intended to mimic the idea of peaking under a car’s hood.
The iconic Zenith star sits at the one o’clock hour while the red, white and blue stripes pay tribute to the French flag. At the three and six o’clock hours sit two complications, the 30-minute and 12-hour counters. On the back, the Tour Auto name sits on the sapphire crystal encasing along with a serial number and the xxx/500 limited-edition numerical notation. Even the strap is a nod to classic racing, modeled after racing gloves featuring perforated blue calfskin lined in black, protective rubber.