Zenith revived the original 1969 El Primero design a few years back and it is a real beauty. Although we would always choose the real thing – faults and all – from 1969-72, rather than the new A384.
Why? Well would you buy a new Jaguar E-Type Continuation model compared to an original E-Type? No, it isn’t quite the same experience, because even though the updated recreation is undeniably better in terms of performance, it isn’t a piece of engineering history.
When you’re selling history as the reason for buying the watch, then perhaps many collectors will hunt down an original, rather than buy new? OK, what’s the story on this latest El Primero Revival?
This latest incarnation of the El Primero has a dial which is an exact replica of a prototype dial face, that has been unearthed from the mythical attic in Switzerland. The Zenith factory originally wanted buyers travel there, with your £7,500, to buy one of these A384 Revival watches – however the Corona outbreak has made them hurriedly set up direct sales online instead. The UK website sales operation should be up and running next month – who needs watch dealerships eh?
As a fan of the El Primero and all it stands for; watchmaking firsts, joint ventures between brands and classic 70s styling, I would love to buy one. However, the standard A384 Revival, with the grey/blue sub-dial combo, is £1000 less. Same movement, case size etc. Then there’s the original El Primero watches on ebay, in vintage watch shops and Chrono24. They are also slightly cheaper and it’s likely that a true classic may rise in value, whereas the new A384 model may well lose about £2000 of its RRP in the first year of ownership.
If you venture into a watch dealer’s shop and try to sell a Zenith, you’ll hear the words, `These are aren’t very popular mate, hard to sell, I can only offer you blah-blah.’ Trust me, I’ve seen it over 5 years working in the watch and jewellery trade.
So for those two reasons, true classic collectability and long term investment value, I would always go 1969 vs 2020 when it comes to the famous El Primero.