New Zenith watches see heritage and modernity collide

These new Zenith watches see Julien Tornare pay tribute to the past in his last collection as CEO

New Zenith watches include the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar, seen here with black strap
Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar
(Image credit: Zenith)

Outgoing CEO Julien Tornare signed off his last new Zenith watches with a flourish, before moving up the road to take charge of TAG Heuer. The new watches demonstrate all the sharpness and savvy that made his promotion widely predicted within the industry. 

As so often in the watch world, the secret of Tornare’s success at Zenith has been navigating the heritage without resorting to pastiche, a tougher job here than most, as so much of the brand’s usable heritage is rooted in a short period around the early 1970s, with designs that are too of their moment to update without radical surgery. It’s a brave CEO that sets design briefs of this kind.

Two new Zenith watches

Green Zenith watch with green strap

Zenith Chronomaster Sport

(Image credit: Zenith)

Case in point is the latest Zenith Chronomaster Sport. It’s an entirely new design that takes the 1969 El Primero as a reference point, adding touches of a mid-1980s design called the ‘De Luca’, the Chronomaster Sport itself, and a generous touch of Daytona. There’s lots of history here, not least that Zenith was supplying movements for Rolex’s Daytona into the 1990s, arriving at a place that’s vintage-tinged, natural-born Zenith.

The new model has a green ceramic bezel matched to a lacquered dial with what’s becoming a recognisable Zenith code, alongside the three-tone subdial set and, thankfully, the date window, which has been colour-matched to the dial. (A gem-set version with a gold-toned meteorite dial was revealed at the recent LVMH Watch Week 2024 in Miami.)

More purely Zenith is the 38mm Original Chronomaster Triple Calendar which, at first glance, is a near replica of a 1970 watch that never made it into production. Zenith made 25 watches before deciding to delay production by few years, by which time the design changed radically to that of the boxy Espada, while the brand’s turbulent history meant that the template for the design was a watch bought at auction. 

Zenith watch with stainless steel bracelet strap

Zenith Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar

(Image credit: Zenith)

There’s no bezel, as the space is needed for the multiple subdials and calendar windows – not forgetting the moonphase tucked into the lower subdial. Necessarily, it’s a busy dial, though still attractive, but that does mean the dial’s most distinctive feature takes a second to resolve. The outer tracks are graduated for 1/10th of a second increments, a reminder of the fast rate the watch runs at – most regular watches still run at 4Hz compared to the 5Hz that delivers 10th of a second ‘ticks’.

There are three versions that follow a ‘panda’ layout of contrasting grey and white (the third, boutique only, version has green against white) matched to gold-plated hands and markers and, again, the date windows are colour-matched. An unobtrusive case and details that are that much sharper than the original nicely dials down the vintage flavour.

Both watches are available on strap (rubber for the Chronomaster Sport and calfskin for the Triple Calendar) or bracelet.

James Gurney has written on watches for over 25 years, founding QP Magazine in 2003, the UK’s first home-grown watch title. In 2009, he initiated SalonQP, one of the first watch fairs to focus on the end-consumer, and is regarded as a leading horological voice contributing to news and magazine titles across the globe.