Celebrating the 2016 running of one of Europe’s most legendary classic car rallys the superb Zenith El Primero Chronomaster Tour Auto is one of this year’s coolest men’s watches, proudly flying the French Tricolore, with eyecatching racing inspired good looks and one of watchmaking’s most revered automatic movements.
The history of the Tour Auto (or Tour de France Automobile) goes back more than 100 years, becoming an annual fixture from the 1950s through to the late ‘80s, and revived in rude health in 1992. The now five-day format has always been a challenge for the gentleman racer and priceless pre-1974 classic machines, and as a principal partner of the event, Zenith have sent their El Primero Chronomaster to the auto shop for a racing tune-up and the result is this fabulous limited Tour Auto edition.
Defined by the ribbon of red, white and blue which runs right along the length of the strap and across the dial, Zenith’s long-established Chronomaster model takes on this classic racing personality with ease, and to stunning effect.
Housed in a round stainless steel case measuring 42mm, its polished bezel contrasts with the brushed case and beautifully integrated lugs. Beneath the sapphire crystal the grained slate grey dial is dominated by the cutaway which opens on the constant motion of the movement’s regulating assembly of spring balance and the blued escapement wheel, as well as the small seconds indicator with red, white and blue accents.
A pair of silvered subdials with dark blue borders host the 30 minute and 12 hour chronograph counters at the 3 and 6 o’clock positions, continuing the Tricolore theme, which really can be found throughout this Tour Auto edition. The
With a tachymentre scale, minutes track and 1/5 seconds track around its edge, there is a lot going on on the dial, yet legibility is never compromised thanks to the applied steel hour markers and long, faceted steel hands, all of which have luminous highlights for good nighttime reference.
On the reverse the sapphire caseback is laser etched with the Tour Auto motif, and behind the spinning weight sits the famous El Primero automatic self-winding chronometer movement, whose high-beating 36,000vph gets chronograph timing down to 1/10 second.
The slate grey strap is made from durable and comfortable all-weather textile composite, fastened via a triple folding clasp.