The New Zenith Chronomaster Open

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Image: Zenith

With the introduction of the Zenith Chronomaster Open 19 years ago, the beating heart of mechanical watchmaking became a visible symbol of traditional watchmaking. Zenith and Frederic Constant were pioneers in this field, and the exhibition caseback, introduced by Gerd-Rudiger Lang in 1982, literally changed how people viewed watchmaking. The open section of the dial displaying the escapement has been a feature of Zenith watches since that time, albeit in the background. We are pleased to inform you that the brand has released a new update for the OG Chronomaster Open for 2022. It is a matter of time.

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Image: Zenith

At first glance, the new Chronomaster Open appears to be little different from previous Open models, but this is far from the case. To begin, the 2022 Chronomaster Open is powered by the El Primero 3604, a 3600 calibre variant with a 1/10th-second chronograph function. Nothing has changed in terms of features and specifications, but there has been some aesthetic reworking around the escapement (here with silicon escape wheel and lever) to improve visibility. To be honest, that is a lot of work to go through just to accommodate a dial change, and we applaud this type of value-add – it is the kind of detail that collectors will appreciate. Yes, Zenith did not simply make a cosmetic change with the assistance of some marketing glitz.

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Image: Zenith

A disadvantage for some collectors with the execution of the new calibre here is the lack of a date wheel, though since the movement has the same architecture, this feature may be included in subsequent iterations. While we don’t have an official explanation for why the date isn’t included (not that Zenith needs one), we believe it was done to keep the dial looking neat. The open configuration certainly lends itself to appearing cluttered and busy, especially when the chronograph is activated. There’s clearly a lot going on dialside!

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Image: Zenith

Zenith’s approach to the dial here is to reference various elements of its history, such as the A386’s tricolor subdials. This design choice also resulted in the addition of a hesalite subdial for the running seconds, which was previously completely exposed (indications were via a pointer and flange). The case’s cleanliness is also a priority, as it now lacks any kind of sporty bezel. As a result, the new Chronomaster Open is more of an elegant chronograph than a sporty one, which is an intriguing decision. Zenith chronographs are in high demand (many variants have long waiting lists), so adding another variant may make sense. It should be noted that the new Chronomaster Open is a replacement for the previous Open model. There is a rose gold version in addition to the steel version shown here.