Zenith El Primero A3818 Revival The Cover GirlJune 17, 2021
One of the most distinguishing features of the original A3818, compared to other early El Primero watches, is its dial. Instead of the signature Zenith tri-colour chronograph sub-dials or high-contrast “panda” dials, the A3818 featured a textured blue dial – something of a rarity back in 1971.
In the Revival series, the satin-brushed finish and petrol blue tone of the dial have been preserved, as have the “pyramid” seconds track and alternating grey and black colours on the sub-dial rings. Giving a uniquely modern twist on thishistorical reference and turning up its legibility in the dark, the pyramid track, tachymeter scale, logo and text are done in Super-LumiNova.On the reverse side of the case is another welcome evolution from the original A3818, with a sapphire display back exposing the El Primero calibre.
Each part of the A3818’s 37mm faceted stainless steel case, including the pump-style pushers, is faithful to the original 1971 model.Completing the vintage look and feel of the watch, the A3818 Revival comes on a steel “ladder” bracelet, a modern remake of the Gay Frères bracelets that became emblematic of the early El Primero watches.
The Zenith El Primero A3818 Revival will be limited to 100 pieces, with 50 pieces allocated to Revolution and its sister publication The Rake’s online shops, and 50 pieces for Zenith boutiques around the world. The watch will come with a copy of Manfred Rössler’s 2009 book Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865, one of the most insightful and comprehensive ever publications about the brand and its iconic watches.
Affectionately called the “Cover Girl” a name that stuck following the appearance of the timepiece on the cover of Manfred Rossler’s book – Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture since 1865, the A3818 was first introduced in 1971 for a brief period of time. This short exposure to the public eye made it become one of the most coveted and exclusive vintage El Primero watches.
Zenith has produced a new watch in collaboration with magazines Revolution and The Rake. The timepiece is the Zenith El Primero A3818 Revival ‘Cover Girl‘. This Revival edition pays homage to the El Primero A3818 from 1971, also named ‘Cover Girl’. It got this name thanks to Manfred Rössler’s book Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865, that features the watch on its front cover. Today, it is one of the most sought-after El Primero chronographs. It is believed Zenith made only 1,000 pieces. Now, Zenith presents this new watch as a limited edition of 100 pieces. The Zenith El Primero A3818 Revival ‘Cover Girl‘ stays true to the original edition from 1971. Accordingly, it features a 37 mm stainless-steel case, which presents itself on the line’s emblematic ‘ladder’ bracelet. Additionally, the domed sapphire crystal exudes a vintage feel. The dial also mirrors the original design with a blue, satin-finished dial. The watch also features the ‘pyramid’ second counter subdials, as well as alternating grey and black subdial rings. However, unlike the original model, the hour and minute hands, tachymetre scale, logo and text use Super-Luminova. Meanwhile, the caseback’s sapphire crystal exposes the movement.
The dial also mirrors the original design with a blue, satin-finished dial. The watch also features the ‘pyramid’ second counter subdials, as well as alternating grey and black subdial rings. However, unlike the original model, the hour and minute hands, tachymetre scale, logo and text use Super-Luminova. Meanwhile, the caseback’s sapphire crystal exposes the movement.
The calibre El Primero 400 powers the watch. The automatic column wheel chronograph has a frequency of 4 Hz. Therefore, it measures to one tenth of a second. Furthermore, it has a power reserve of 50 hours and the ‘Côtes de Genève’, – a striped pattern – decorates the rotor.
Singapore-based Revolution Watch recently released a re-issue of the iconic Zenith El Primero A3818. Limited to just 100 pieces and priced at $8,100, the revival watch sold out within days of its release.
The Revolution x Zenith release has placed a new spotlight on the A3818, what was already a popular and iconic reference among vintage collectors.
As I mention on our Resources Page, Rossler’s book is the definitive work on Zenith, so to be the watch on its cover is quite the honor. In its announcement post, Revolution goes on to say that vintage reference A3818 models can reach prices of $20,000 — that is, when you can find them.
The watch is iconic not only for its “Cover Girl” status, but also because of its construction: in addition to the angular, tonneau-shaped case, inside ticks Zenith’s automatic 3019 movement, beating at a speedy 36,000 bph, truly ahead of its time. Of course, the beautiful blue dial steals the show, with its striations that catch the light in magnificent and varying ways. Towards the outer edge of the dial, you’ll see another of the El Primero A3818’s unique features: 300 lines of uneven length that form a shark-tooth shape, allowing wearers to read the chronograph seconds to a precise one-tenth of a second.
Why did Rossler choose it for the cover? Not for its rarity or historical significance, according to the author himself: “The beautiful blue colour led to this decision. I like blue dials.” Simple enough.
We thought it’d be fun to round up a few examples that have changed hands publicly over the past couple years.