Zenith Chronomaster Sport -  Activate Lightning Mode

Zenith Chronomaster Sport - Activate Lightning Mode

When you look at the new 41mm steel Zenith Chronomaster Sport you realize you’re looking at a greatest hits list of iconic Zenith design codes. First you have the dial layout, in particular the three multi-counter subdials arrayed inverted pyramid style, comes from the A386, launched back in the Summer of Love, in 1969 and that introduced the world to the integrated automatic chronograph.

You’ve got the black bezel from both the A277 Pre-El Primero Chronograph and the legendary El Primero Rainbow, though, this unit is now rendered in decidedly modern ceramic and engraved with a very unique 10 second scale, with exactly 100 distinct hash marks, more on this later.

You have the polished and satin finish bracelet from the Zenith De Luca. But most distinct is the incredible 1/10th of a second display that comes from Zenith’s Striking 1/10th a model that was introduced a decade ago but was dropped from the Zenith line up, before current CEO Julien Tornare joined the company.

Says Tornare, “This display creates what I like to think of as a super chronograph that perfectly highlights our status as the master of precision time keeping. The Zenith El Primero has been the only chronograph movement for over half a century is capable of diving time to 1/10th of a second. The new Chronomaster Sport showcases this in an incredibly dynamic way.”

Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/21.M3100 with a black dial, fitted on a stainless steel bracelet
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/21.M3100 with a black dial, fitted on a stainless steel bracelet
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 with a white dial, fitted on a stainless steel bracelet
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 with a white dial, fitted on a stainless steel bracelet

What Tornare refers to is the following. When you pick up the Zenith Chronomaster Sport you’ll think it’s nice. In the same way you think the girl next door with the freckles is nice. You’ll strap it to your wrist and you’ll like all the small details that are perfectly well sorted by Zenith’s head of product, Romain Marietta.

The case is really well executed in that it feels great when you wear it and is certainly ergonomic. The large visible bevels bring the stirrings of excitement, the ceramic bezel is definitely welcome and the vintage pump style chrono pusher add a bit of retro modern appeal. But then you push the chronograph start button and that’s when the “Oh Shit!” movement happens.

Because all of sudden the chronograph seconds hand leaps into action and starts to rotate around the dial at a dizzying pace. This is the equivalent of that day at the beach when the girl next door kicks off her Havianas, un-scrunchies her hair, slips off her cut offs and tosses her Wu Tang t-shirt on the sand and you realize you’ve been living next to a super model the whole time.

On the wrist: the Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 with a white dial, fitted on a stainless steel bracelet
On the wrist: the Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 with a white dial, fitted on a stainless steel bracelet

Similarly, looking at the dial of the Chronomaster Sport you’ll struggle to comprehend what’s going on at first. “Has my watch been taken over by some crazed demon? Is it possessed?” You’ll ask. But what’s going on is this very special El Primero movement has one major modification. Because its chronograph drive wheel actually is an accelerator wheel with 100 teeth and that is driving the chronograph hand to adopt precisely 100 unique positions on the dial every ten seconds. Meaning that any time you stop it, the hand can read a highly visible 1/10th of a second measurement off the ceramic bezel.

The 2021 Chronomaster Sport's black Ceramic Bezel is made unique thanks to its innovative 1/10th of a second scale markings which makes it an appropriate for reading time off from a chronograph powered by the El Primero 3600, which is made to perform to this specific accuracy
The 2021 Chronomaster Sport's black Ceramic Bezel is made unique thanks to its innovative 1/10th of a second scale markings which makes it an appropriate for reading time off from a chronograph powered by the El Primero 3600, which is made to perform to this specific accuracy
An exploded view of the El Primero 3600, with the primary components of the chronograph mechanism highlighted
An exploded view of the El Primero 3600, with the primary components of the chronograph mechanism highlighted

Special Chronograph Mechanism Assembly in the El Primero 3600

With the El Primero 3600 chronograph energy is now taken from the escapement wheel, instead of the seconds wheel; it seems to be similar to a Foudroyante complication; this design, however, provides a better display of the chronograph time: the central chronograph hand realizes a full rotation every 10 seconds, but divided in exactly 100 positions
With the El Primero 3600 chronograph energy is now taken from the escapement wheel, instead of the seconds wheel; it seems to be similar to a Foudroyante complication; this design, however, provides a better display of the chronograph time: the central chronograph hand realizes a full rotation every 10 seconds, but divided in exactly 100 positions

But wait, you say. How do you calculate a traditional chronograph reading? Check out the three counters on the dial of this bad ass watch. What is unique and a detail I love is that every single one of the counters is calibrated to “60”.

The counter at 3 o’clock is the elapsed chronograph seconds and advances 10 seconds with each central second hand revolution of the dial. The counter at 6 o’clock is the chronograph minutes, which is calibrated to 60 minutes. And the counter at 9 o’clock is calibrated to 60 seconds and is the continuous seconds counter. This is one of the most intuitive and straight forward ways of reading and measuring time.

The tri-compax layout of the Chronomaster Sport is made extremely intuitive thanks to all counters being calibrated to 60 divisions
The tri-compax layout of the Chronomaster Sport is made extremely intuitive thanks to all counters being calibrated to 60 divisions

Says Tornare , “I gave the watch to my young son and didn’t tell him anything. He looked at it and immediately understood how you use it measure time. I knew that if he could instinctively and immediately understand how to use it, it would be perfect.”

One other thing I like about the Chronomaster Sport is that represents a very strong value proposition. Tornare who was educated at the school of Jean-Claude Biver, believes in one of the core ethos perpetuated by the great man, and that is a watch should overdeliver in its perceived value. Priced at CHF 9,900 on a steel bracelet or CHF 9,400 on a strap — I would advise to just go for the bracelet at that small supplement, the 2021 Zenith Chronomaster Sport is the SAME price as the Striking 1/10th when that watch was launched a full decade ago. And the new watch has seriously upped the quality game with touches like the ceramic bezel.

Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/21.M3100 with a black dial, fitted on a Cordura effect bracelet
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/21.M3100 with a black dial, fitted on a Cordura effect bracelet
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 with a white dial, fitted on a Cordura effect bracelet
Zenith Chronomaster Sport ref. 03.3100.3600/69.M3100 with a white dial, fitted on a Cordura effect bracelet

The Chronomaster Sport also comes in both a white and black dial. It is meant to be that do anything, go anywhere chronograph that serves you unfailingly, is incredibly comfortable and reliable but at any moment you can unleash its super power. I actually look forward to dinner parties, where I’m sat next to someone else that has on one of the more entrenched market  leading chronographs and that this person would ask about my watch. I’ll pass it over to this individual and tell them to press the start button, where the watch suddenly ignites into lightning mode and starts blazing its trail around the dial and high velocity. I

feel that this watch should be accompanied by a theme song like ACDC’s Thunderstruck or Judas Priest’s Lighting Strike, whenever the start button is activated. Says Tornare, “I like how you call this lighting mode. Of course, we also have our super foudroyante watch at Zenith which is the El Primero 21, a timepiece where the central chrono hand adopts 100 positions every second but I like to think that the Chronomaster Sport sits just below this in its time measuring abilities. At Zenith we have the best traditional chronographs, we now have the Chronomaster Sport with the 10 second, 1/10th of a second display and the El Primero 21. I think I can say as a brand known for measuring time, our offer is very complete.” As usual, Tornare is right.

Technical Specifications

Black Dial – Reference: 03.3100.3600/21.M3100

Price: CHF 9,900 (metal bracelet) & CHF 9,400 (Cordura effect bracelet)

White Dial – Reference: 03.3100.3600/69.M3100

Price: CHF 9,900 (metal bracelet) & CHF 9,400 (Cordura effect bracelet)

Movement

El Primero 3600 automatic; 36000 VpH (5 Hz); hours and minutes in the centre; small seconds at 9 o’clock, 1/10th of a second chronograph: central chronograph hand that makes one turn in 10 seconds, 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, 60-second counter at 3 o’clock; 60-hour power reserve

Case & Dial

41mm stainless steel with black ceramic bezel; black matte dial with three different applied coloured counters; hour markers: rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C1; black or white matte dial with three different applied coloured countershands: rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C1; water-resistant to 100m

Bracelet & Buckle

Available on metal bracelet or black rubber bracelet with Cordura” effect; double folding clasp with security mechanism

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