Sooner or later the world will wake up to the fact that Omega, Breitling and now Zenith make elegant automatic chronographs that are the equal of Rolex’s Daytona.
The Daytona will continue to float above Speedmasters, Chronomats and Chronomasters for as long as they are selling for more than twice their retail value on the secondary market but, if a customer’s aim is to buy and keep a watch they love, there is little to choose between rival timepieces in terms of history, design, architecture, accuracy and reliability.
Zenith might even have stolen a march with the Chronomaster Sport that launched this week thanks to a new version of its El Primero 3600 calibre, which is able to measure tenths of a second with a central chronograph hand that takes 10 seconds to circle a polished black ceramic bezel.
The choice of a ten second scale on the bezel gives the watch less of a connection to the racing world than a tachymetre, but it is a point of difference to most other sporty chronographs and more likely to be used in the real world.
Three slightly overlapping subdials on the Chronomaster Sport keep track of stop watch seconds, minutes and the time’s seconds.
Zenith’s history of automatic chronographs dates back to the 1960s, but the company is keen to emphasise that the 2021 Chronomaster Sport collection marks the beginning of something new for the category.
“Once again pushing the boundaries of high-frequency precision, the Chronomaster Sport is the culmination point in Zenith’s unequalled legacy of automatic chronographs that combines the spirit of the El Primero A386, the form of the Chronomaster De Luca and the high-frequency performance established by the El Primero calibre for over 50 years in a sporty chronograph like no other – in both style and substance,” the company states.
Comparisons with the Daytona are, according to Zenith CEO Julien Tornare, a complement. You can see him slightly flush with satisfaction when pressed on how the two measure up in Q&A sessions held over zoom this week.
The 41mm steel collection comes in black or white dial colours and is offered on a bracelet for £8,300 or Cordura effect strap for £7,900 — that works out around £1,500 less than a Rolex 116500 LN and customers will be able to walk into a Zenith dealer and buy one rather than be smirked at in a Rolex store for the impudence of trying to buy a steel Daytona.