Day one for the Zenith Chronomaster Sport was January 21, 2021. And it appeared like everybody had the identical response: “That’s one aggressive Rolex tribute.” To be truthful, the Chronomaster Sport is way over that, however the preliminary head-on press photographs raised each eyebrows and the temperature on social media. Given zero wrist time and restricted pictures, social media figures did what they do and made themselves the story in a match of splenetic rants.
Overlook all that. The Chronomaster Sport is a particular product with its personal id and soul. However let’s see the way it stacks up towards the mighty Rolex Cosmograph Daytona anyway.
Zenith Caliber 3600 vs. Rolex Caliber 4130
Begin with the most effective a part of each Zenith: the within. Caliber 3600 arrived in 2019 for the El Primero’s fiftieth anniversary, and it was the long-awaited “El Primero Mark II” in all however identify. It was definitely worth the wait.
Zenith’s reborn chronograph beneficial properties ten hours of energy reserve – now 60 – and hacking seconds, however the actual energy of this motion is that it appears to be like nearly as good because it runs. Zenith caught with a standard lateral coupling, and it was the suitable transfer. It’s lovely, totally seen, and upholds the El Primero’s repute as a uncommon magnificence amongst computerized chronograph calibers.
In contrast to most computerized chronographs, Caliber 3600 buries neither its clutch nor its column wheel underneath the winding system; hammers and levers are seen.
Rolex’s Caliber 4130, like most trendy computerized chronograph actions, is all bridges and rotor. The vertical clutch isn’t significantly photogenic so it’s no loss that it hides beneath a stable case again.
It’s price elaborating on this level: Zenith clearly thought of how this motion would strike the attention. Spiral-spoke clutch wheels are a nod to antiquity even because the nickel-anthracite coating of the bridges takes a hyper-modern flip. Zenith makes use of each blued and polished screws – they point out completely different functions to the watchmaker – and the violet gleam of the pivot jewels pops towards the darkish base. The steadiness explodes in a luminescent gold hue.
This can be a motion made to be seen.
Zenith Chronomaster Sport vs. Rolex Cosmograph Daytona: performance and design
Extra of Zenith’s Le Locle magic emerges within the contours of the Chronomaster’s case, which eschews the tapered grace of the Cosmograph for a extra sturdy and sophisticated type that’s recognizable as a Zenith.
The squared-off lug suggestions, a full-length bevel, pump pushers, and satin-finished lug hoods are purebred Chronomaster prospers established way back. For good measure, a tiny kerf beneath the crown allows straightforward manipulation with a fingertip.
Frankly, the Zenith is also a little bit of a piece. Its 13.8 mm thickness is a full 1.5 mm past the svelte Rolex Daytona, and it’s apparent in particular person. However that’s the worth to be paid for beautiful motion structure and a sapphire crystal case again.
However that dial! That bezel! Geneva! True, 22 years after the final El Primero-powered Daytona, Zenith felt the impulse to revisit its well-known ex. And, sure, when diminished to Atari ranges of decision, photographs of the 2 are uncanny. Look deeper.
Zenith’s Putting Tenth foudroyant chronograph bowed a decade in the past, but it surely nonetheless electrifies. In contrast to the Daytona’s tachymeter, Zenith’s ceramic bezel is a ten-second scale designed to make the beforehand educational El Primero five-Hertz escapement a usable characteristic. Alongside the rim of the dial, every full second of chronograph operation is spaced over 36 levels; this makes the recorded tenths massive sufficient to see with out eagle eyes or a loupe. And, yeah, it appears to be like like a riot in operation.
The Rolex? It begins, stops, and resets. Finished.
Zenith presents each white and black dial choices – which does nothing to discourage the Rolex comparisons. The colours take clear cues from The Crown in Geneva, however the particulars are all Le Locle. A 4:30 date indicator hews carefully to El Primero historical past, and the overlapping tri-tone registers at middle are straight off the Zenith A386 of 1969. Fingers and indices are distinctive to the mannequin and replicate a transparent break with something occurring on Rue François-Dussaud.
The Chronomaster Sport’s manufacturing unit strap providing places extra daylight between it and the Daytona. Whereas aftermarket corporations are completely satisfied to help, Rolex by no means meant for the 116500LN technology of the Cosmograph Daytona to incorporate a strap, and swapping to a non-OEM resolution usually appears to be like awkward. The Zenith, by comparability, appears to be like simply as sharp in both configuration.
As sturdy because the Chronomaster Sport is, the weak hyperlink lies among the many hyperlinks of the bracelet. Zenith’s design trades closely on Oyster precedent, however the outcome falls quick. Though the three-link Chronomaster Sport bracelet is stable sufficient and all hyperlinks are detachable, the counter-torqued hyperlinks embrace screw heads on either side. Which means homeowners would require a specialised jig or Philippe Dufour-level dexterity with twin flatheads to dimension their bracelets with out leaving scars.
The deployant clasp is the low level of this Zenith. Not solely is that this the design ingredient most straight drawn from Rolex, however the high quality feels out of step with the rest of the Chronomaster. Satirically, the Zenith clasp seems like a throwback to the Oyster clasps of the Nineties – the period of the Zenith-powered Daytona. Constructed of skinny gauge-stamped metal and externally perforated for sizing changes, this clasp appears to be like and seems like a relic of the final century or one thing appropriate for a sub-$2K sports activities watch in 2021.
On the wrist, it’s straightforward to overlook concerning the clasp, and the fidgety bracelet want be sized solely as soon as. There’s a reassuring solidity to the Chronomaster Sport, which advantages from its comparatively chunky proportions and appreciable weight. Many watch collectors affiliate this subjectively beefy really feel with luxurious, and the Sport’s wrist really feel is extra tangible than the lighter Daytona.
Compliments from watch people come quick and livid, and the Chronomaster Sport’s controversial origins make it a uncommon consideration magnet from low-profile Zenith. Everybody needs to see it, attempt it, and decide it for themselves. All due regard to the hazard of small pattern sizes, however most collectors who encountered the Chronomaster Sport got here away impressed and satisfied that the watch is extra of a Daytona rival than a Daytona knockoff. This Zenith charms on benefit.
A bigger watch model or a extra direct market rival to Rolex most likely wouldn’t have risked a watch just like the Chronomaster Sport. However Zenith isn’t Omega, and the Chronomaster Sport received’t price Rolex a single Daytona sale. As an alternative, now we have a watch-nerd model trying to discover a vogue footing in a world the place its celebrated actions usually battle for aesthetic id.
The underside line: value
Pricing additionally issues. As of October 2021, the metal Rolex Daytona retails for $13,150, and the Zenith Chronomaster Sport retails for $9,500 on a strap or $10,000 on a bracelet. Actuality bites within the type of years-long seller ready lists for the Rolex and markups approaching $40,000 to purchase the watch instantly preowned. The Zenith, by comparability, is obtainable each new and used for about its retail value. And, no, the Rolex isn’t 4 occasions higher than the Zenith.
From its January launch, the Chronomaster Sport’s look has drawn instant comparisons to the Rolex Daytona. With the good thing about wrist time, head-to-head comparability, and reflection, a extra balanced view of the Zenith places the contentious watch in perspective. The Chronomaster Sport is Swiss engineering’s equal of present-day Lynyrd Skynyrd: neither a canopy act nor all unique blood, however nonetheless a blast.
For extra info, please go to www.zenith-watches.com/int/chronomaster-sport
Fast Details Zenith Chronomaster Sport 03.3100.3600/21.M3100
Case: 41 x 13.8 mm, chrome steel, 100-meter water resistance with push-down crown
Motion: computerized El Primero Caliber 3600 with lateral clutch column wheel chronograph, 60-hour energy reserve, 36,000 vph/5 Hz frequency, silicon escapement, flat hairspring, 10-second foudroyant
Features: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; date, foudroyant chronograph
Retail value: $10,000
Fast Details Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona 116500LN-0001
Case: 40 x 12.3 mm, chrome steel, 100-meter water resistance with screw-down crown
Motion: computerized Caliber 4130 with column wheel and vertical clutch chronograph, 72-hour energy resreve, C.O.S.C. official Swiss chronometer certification, 28,800 vph/4 Hz frequency, full steadiness bridge and free-sprung steadiness, overcoil hairspring,
Features: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; chronograph
Retail value: $13,150
*Disclosure: Tim Mosso is the media director and a watch specialist at Watchbox.
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