Zenith El Primero A3817 1971


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Zenith El Primero
chronograph automatic
Ref. A3817

This vintage A3817 brings together the 37mm tonneau-shaped case of the A384 with the iconic tri-color dial reminiscent of the A386.

Quick facts

Zenith's website

Brand: Zenith
Model: El Primero
Reference: A3817
Year: 1971
Case: Stainless steel, 37mm
Caliber: 3019 PHC, automatic

Owner of this watch: Margus

What about it

The A3817 emerged as a timepiece that bridged both universes by combining the winning elements of the sporty A384 and the classic A386.

In 1971, the A3817 stood out as an exception. It merged the sporty steel tonneau-shaped case, reminiscent of the earliest steel El Primero references, with the remarkable tri-color dial found on the A386. This fusion resulted in a distinctive and captivating aesthetic that continues to captivate vintage chronograph enthusiasts.

With only 1000 units ever produced, the A3817 remains one of the most distinguished, elusive, and highly sought-after references among the early El Primero timepieces.

Zenith initiated the El Primero story with its most iconic watch, the A386, in 1969. From a design perspective, it perfectly embodied the essence of the new design era of the 1970s - a bold and masculine sporty chronograph adorned with a vibrant tri-color palette. Additionally, in 1969, Zenith introduced the angled tonneau-shaped watchcase that became prominent in models like the A384, A385, A3817, and A3818.

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El Primero cal 400 movement

El Primero movement

The El Primero movement stands as an iconic achievement, boasting over 50 years of continuous production. Its inception in 1969 marked the culmination of seven dedicated years by Zenith's craftsmen, driven to craft the inaugural fully integrated automatic chronograph movement. While the easier path would have involved appending a module to a base movement, Zenith pursued a more ambitious vision, laden with additional requisites, thereby intensifying the project's complexity. Foremost among these demands was the pursuit of an elevated beat frequency within the calibre, enabling the chronograph function to impeccably measure time down to 1/10th of a second.

Article on Monochrome watches

Zenith El Primero A3817

Tri-colour dial

The backstory of the famous tri-color dial is often a subject of curiosity and debate among watch enthusiasts. However, the precise historical origins or the detailed story behind its creation might be challenging to pinpoint.

The hallmark of this distinctive dial lies in its overlapping triple subdials, forming an unorthodox layout. Positioned at 9 o'clock, you typically find a standard running seconds subdial, while at 6 o'clock, there's a 12-hour chronograph register. And the 30-minute register sits at 3 o'clock. THe date is positioned at 4:30. Some hate it, I like it! The distinctive 1/5th of a second shark-tooth pattern is an intriguing feature often observed on these dials. This pattern was also utilized in Zenith's AutoSport model.

Zenith El Primero A3817 dial
Zenith El Primero A3817 1971 Zenith El Primero A3817 1971 Zenith El Primero A3817 1971 Chronomaster Revival El Primero A3817 03.A384.400/3817.M3817



Availability: rare
Few watches on sale

Pricing: 10,000 - 17,000+ €
(Dec 2023)



Could not source any articles about vintage model, so here we have articles about revival, but they talk about history too.