There are two major points that I’ve previously made about the Zenith El Primero 21: First, that the El Primero 21 is the future of Zenith and, second, that the foudroyant hand integration to the chronograph function mesmerizes everyone that sees it. A year since I published an article on the Carbon version of this watch, the El Primero 21 continues to serve as a flagship for the future of Zenith watchmaking. Regarding the appeal of the chronograph, this watch continues the line’s ability to captivate the wearer. Furthermore, swapping out a darker colour for the purple that Zenith has used here on parts of the movement and the strap helps to push the watch further into the realm of whimsicality, while still retaining the sleekness and “cool” factor of the rest of the collection.
The case, rated to be waterproof to 100m, is made out of titanium that is microblasted to create the dark grey finish. All hands and hour markers are rhodium plated and coated in Super-LumiNova, while the grey subdials are colour matched to the case and are set against the visible movement due to the openworked nature of the dial. The caseback’s sapphire crystal allows the wearer to look at the Zenith star oscillating weight that is also finished in purple. My one complaint with this watch? The case size. 44mm seems doable, but still feels too large. Ideally it would have been somewhere closer to the 41 or 42mm range.
The big feature of this watch that captures the attention of many is the foudroyant hand chronograph complication. What makes the El Primero 21 impressive is its ability to switch from beating at 5Hz to a staggering 50Hz when the chronograph is engaged. This allows the watch to beat at such a high frequency, that the seconds hand of the chronograph is able to measure hundredths of a second, allowing for a chronograph that is more precise in measurement than really anything else out there. Is it something you’ll use everyday? Not necessarily, unless your job requires something so exact that can measure such a small unit of time, but regardless of the increase in technical capability, the activation of the chronograph really increases the aesthetic appeal of the watch and provides the wearer with a fun party trick.
Zenith employs their El Primero 9004 here with the unique purple (ultraviolet) finish. The movement has about a 50-hour power reserve and is TIME LAB Chronometer certified. In addition to the chronograph, there is a chronograph power reserve function at the 12 o’clock position. The price of the Zenith El Primero 21 Ultraviolet is 13,400 CHF.