In horology, the term, ‘reverse panda’, refers to a layout that has a black dial and predominantly white subdials. In some cases, the subdials can be in silver or in lighter shades. Many timepiece makers have lovingly embraced the concept of reversing the basic panda layout and changing the placement of the subdials accordingly. Zenith’s new Chronomaster Original (Ref. 03.3200.3600/22.M3200) in a way offers an intriguing version of the reverse panda concept — it has a black tricolour dial, where the subdials are in three different colours.
In 1969, Zenith unveiled the A386, which had a white tricolour dial and a 38 mm steel case with straight lugs. The standout feature of this watch was, of course, its white tricolour dial, thus becoming one of the most significant references in the history of the El Primero calibre. In 2021, the manufacturer released a series of new models as part of the Chronomaster Original collection, including a Chronomaster Sport watch in rose gold with a modern movement.
The 2023 Zenith Chronomaster Original watch maintains the signature 38 mm case, as found on the original, and is crafted from stainless steel. The watch gets a black dial with a blue 60-second counter at 3 o'clock, a grey 60-minute counter at 6 o'clock, and a silver small seconds counter at 9 o'clock, along with a date window with a black background and white numeral at 4:30. On the outer periphery of the dial, there is a black chapter ring for the 1/10 of a second scale. Keeping the design similar to the original model, the Zenith El Primero logo sits at 12 o’clock. The watch gets rhodium-plated, faceted hour markers and hour, minute hands, all coated with SuperLumiNova, in addition to a central red chronograph second hand that completes one rotation of the dial in 10 seconds.
The watch sports a non-bezel layout with pump style pushers at 2 o’clock and 4 o’clock to start and restart the chronograph mechanism, with radial-brushed and polished surfaces. Powering the watch is the automatic El Primero 3600 1/10th of a second movement with 60 hours power reserve and a high frequency of 5Hz. Turning the Zenith Chronomaster Original watch over showcases the sapphire caseback with an unobstructed view of the movement, revealing a blue column wheel and an open stainless steel oscillating weight, marked with the five-pointed star of Zenith. Finishing the watch is a metal bracelet with a folding clasp.