Zenith x SJX Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”November 17, 2021
I’m pleased to announce the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”, a collaborative edition loosely inspired by the disco-era El Primero G383, but reimagined with lots of lume – the dial is disco at night and also in the day.
Zenith is a brand that appeals to me on an intellectual level because it’s historically significant for its chronometers and chronographs, but also on a personal level, simply because the brand makes watches that are both appealing and affordable. So it was a no-brainer for me to work with Zenith – since it meant I could create my fantasy El Primero.
One of my favourite vintage Zenith models is the G383, a truly funky watch with a design that is unmistakably of the late 1960s and 1970s – the dial is over the top and truly disco.
But a one-for-one vintage remake has never interested me (plus I’m not a fan of the tiny lugs of the G383). So in early 2020, I got in touch with Romain Marietta, Zenith’s head of product development, and together we spent several months refining the concept, creating the Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Poker Chip”.
(Full disclosure: The several months spent tweaking the idea produced more than one outstanding design, so a variant is a possibility.)
At the same time, the Poker Chip will also be more accessible than our past editions. It’s as affordable as Zenith watches typically are – in fact it costs just 10% more than the Chronomaster Revival A386 in steel – but will also be available more widely.
Unlike our SJX Editions by Habring2 and Kudoke that were available only on SJX Watches and sold out almost instantly, the Poker Chip is a collaborative effort between us and Zenith. It is still a limited edition, but it will also be available at Zenith boutiques, after an initial period of exclusivity for us – click here to order.
Like our past editions, the Poker Chip was conceived to be easily recognisable as a Zenith, but immediately distinct from the brand’s other designs – extracting a great idea from history and reimagining it for today.
So the classic 38 mm El Primero case of 1969 is retained, but it’s micro-blasted titanium for the first time (the other models with the same case are in steel).
By the same token, the dial design goes back to the very beginning of the El Primero. Launched in 1969, the G383 sports a wildly sectored layout in black, white, and gold that evokes a poker chip.
Unique amongst vintage Zenith El Primero models in terms of style and also notably rare – only about 200 were made – the G383 is relatively obscure today, perhaps because the extravagant look is not for everyone, especially with its unusual lugs.
The modern-day Poker Chip transforms the aesthetic of the original into something that is striking in its contemporary style, but once you recognise the historical inspiration, the disco-era flavour is apparent.
Rendered in dark grey, the dial is sectored into matte black segments with Super-Luminova patterns on top, reproducing the layout of the vintage original – but in lume.
Because of the generous Super-Luminova on the dial, the “poker chip” motif is apparent in both day and night – though I do think it’s more striking in the dark.
And for maximum effect at night, the watch is delivered with an additional strap of fabric impregnated with Super-Luminova – so the entire strap glows. Credit for the glow-in-the-dark strap goes to Romain and his team.
Because the dial is coolly excessive, the case was made restrained, while remaining a twist on a vintage classic. Like the Chronomaster Revival models – and the vintage El Primero A386 – the case is a compact 38 mm but made minimalist.
It’s micro-blasted titanium, giving the case a fine, dark grey finish that’s then enhanced with a coating that increases its wear resistance and also helps prevents fingerprints from showing.
Inside the case is the El Primero 400, a movement that’s basically the same as that found in G383 and all the other El Primero models of 1969.
Zenith had already launched a new version of the El Primero movement when this project started last year, so there was a choice of movement. We decided to go for the original El Primero for two reasons.
One is the fact that I expect the original El Primero to gradually become less common as the latest versions of the movement become more widespread throughout the Zenith line up. And the second is the gentle irony of having reimagined the aesthetics of a vintage watch but retaining the same movement.
The Poker Chip will be exclusively available from SJX Watches for a month – order it here – and then subsequently from Zenith boutiques around the world, as well as its online store.