Tested For You: The Zenith Chronomaster Sport
This tri-compax chronograph kills it with an updated design and upgraded movement.
We’re almost halfway through 2021, and one of the most talked-about timepieces of the year remains the Zenith Chronomaster Sport.
When it was released in January, most of the world was still in lockdown. Even if fans couldn’t check out the Chronomaster Sport in person, on paper (and online), it was exciting because it promised a handsome design based on chronographs from Zenith’s deep archives as well as a substantial update to the historic El Primero movement.
The interest in the Chronomaster Sport has only increased since its initial release. Some in the collecting community claim that it’s because of its passing resemblance to the Rolex Daytona (hence the online nickname “Zaytona”).
So we at Watchonista took the opportunity to photograph the timepiece and focus on the details that make this retro-ish watch a winner in its own right.
At first glance, the new Chronomaster Sport clearly draws upon Zenith’s design codes. The overlapping sub-dials and color scheme can be traced back to the 1969 El Primero A386. Also, the case recalls a lesser known 1980s-era model called the De Luca. After the mechanical watch industry began to recover from the height of the quartz crisis, these were the first Zenith chronos produced with the resurrected El Primero automatic 400 caliber, which was a modified version of the El Primero used in the Rolex Daytona ref. 16520.
Though neo-retro is having a moment, Zenith was smart to mix and match these vintage influences. The aesthetic of the Chronomaster Sport feels classic but also has a unique appearance. It demands attention, but at the same time, you won’t have to worry about being the 10th person at the party wearing the same watch.
Look even closer, and you’ll discover more desirable details. The most noticeable element of this 1/10th-second chronograph is its ceramic bezel. Zenith has used ceramic bezels before in the Chronomaster line, of course, but this version is appealing on two fronts. First, the way the light plays on the surface of the ceramic. And second, the very practical function of the graduations for reading off tenths and hundredths of a second.
The Finish Line
Good looks are one thing, but touch is the true test when it comes to appreciating of the Chronomaster Sport. The version we shot is housed in a 41mm stainless steel case with pump pushers, a signed push-pull crown, and a sapphire caseback secured with four screws. The surface is brushed on the sides, and the tops of the lugs have a polished chamfer for extra interest.
All these bumps and bits allow for a pleasing tactility. And for extra dimension, the Chronomaster Sport comes with a black-lacquered or matte white dial complemented by the rhodium-plated hour-markers and minutes/seconds hands. And for readability, the chronograph hands are red-tipped. Between the pushers, the dial, and the bezel, there’s a lot going on, but there’s no denying that each element has a sensory appeal.
Under the Hood
Chronograph collectors were also excited by the Chronomaster Sport’s impressive spec sheet. It incorporates a new movement: the El Primero 3600, which takes advantage of modern materials to reduce the component count, streamline the manufacturing processes, and offer improved efficiency. As a result, this high frequency mechanism beats at a rate of 36,000 VpH (5 Hz) and offers a weekend-proof power reserve of 60 hours.
Another fun feature of the caliber 3600 is that it distinguishes the Chronomaster Sport by enabling the central chronograph hand to spin around the dial once every 10 seconds to indicate measurements to the closest 1/10th of a second. This effect is so engaging that even if you have no practical reason to deploy this complication, you’ll find yourself playing with it anyway.
(Photography by Liam O'Donnell)