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Discussion Starter #1
Perhaps in response to the consistently rising prices, there are regular offerings on the market, of what one could say is the most beautiful and technically the best wristwatch chronograph of all times.

Here is another one for sale on the bay, for the forum to comment:

Vintage Zenith El Primero Ref. A386 aus dem Jahr 1969 - Super Sammlerstück | eBay

For future reference I've copied some of the pics and the description:

$_57.JPG $_57 (1).JPG $_57 (3).JPG $_57 (4).JPG $_57 (2).JPG


Zenith El Primero A386 aus dem Jahr 1969
Super Sammlerstück - limitierte Auflage
kommt gerade aus der Revision - 1 Jahr Garantie
Diese traumhafte Sammleruhr ist in einem für ihr Alter sehr guten Zustand. Die Uhr kommt gerade aus der Revision direkt von Zenith und hat 1 Jahr Garantie. Bei der Revision wurden neue Zeiger eingebaut, aber wir geben die alten Tritiumzeiger gern mit. Das Zifferblatt wurde nicht ausgewechselt. Der Service allein hat 1891,00 Euro gekostet. Die Rechnung wird beigelegt. Tragespuren am Gehäuse sind nur minimal vorhanden. Die Seriennummer ist auf dem Gehäusedeckel gut zu erkennen. Sie lautet 53XD6XX. Das schwarze Lederarmband ist von Juwelier Becker in Hamburg und nagelneu. Insgesamt ist der Zustand der Uhr auf den Fotos sehr gut zu erkennen. Der Gehäusedurchmesser beträgt ca. 38 mm. Lassen Sie sich die Gelegenheit nicht entgehen - dieses Modell ist wirklich nicht oft zu finden. Es ist der weltweit erste Chronograph mit Automatikwerk und er wurde in limitierter Auflage produziert.
 

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Yes it a mark1 with a beautiful dial, service hands and crown but the seller says the watch will be shipped with the original hands, that's is fine if the original hands and crown are in good shape but no pictures of the original parts or movement, zenith did a nice job in polishing the case but the lugs bevelled edges lost some of their sharpness these mark1 a386 are very rare some say about 400 were made out of the 2500 a386 produced
 

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...and the crown isn't original either. The square logo wasn't introduced until ca. 1972. Original dial (it is claimed)?! Certainly looks very clean for that.

If the service cost nearly 1900 Euros, I cringe at what they will want for it (didn't look it up, don't know and probably don't want to either!).

Thanks for posting that.

Hartmut Richter

Hartmut Richter
 

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One recently went for $10k on ebay with an original bracelet and Zenith box. This one looks good except the new hands throw it off for me. I wonder how bad the originals are. This is kind of why I'm afraid to send mine in to Zenith because if it comes back polished with all new hands I won't be happy.

I'd say they will get at least USD$8,000 for it or close to 5900 Euros.
 

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The dial, tachymetre ring, and case are the only parts original from 1969 , the hands, crown, and pushers, are brand spanking new services parts, no pictures of the movement. The first 3019 movements produced early on has distinctive features that are only common to the very first el primero produced early in 1969 and after a service the may not be present.
 

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Discussion Starter #6 (Edited)
I agree with what's been said.

Nice original dial and tachymeter.

Polished case, but not too bad.

The new hands look a bit incongruous: too white for the nicely aged dial.

However, why send a watch to the company for service, when obviously they have something against vintage watches?

They clearly and deliberately discriminate older watches.

They service more recent El Primero's for much less, although technically there is no difference.

Apparently it has become the rule now to charge 1800 euro for servicing any vintage El Primero.

1800 euro for four hours of work...

Really, for such a price I would expect a little more work, and a pucka result, which it is not.

Look at that tachymeter: poorly aligned.

The case polish is not that bad but not that good either.

Somehow the new pushers also don't look the part. Am I wrong or do they stick out too far?

In the present circumstances our forum sponsor should be avoided at all costs for servicing vintage watches.:think:

Really, asking six times the price of a normal first class service, is beyond my understanding.

I could understand double price, but six times the normal price? It didn't use to be like that...

Maybe I'm just being grumpy. The times they are a changing...and nobody is obliged to send their vintage to the company.

Now, this is still a wonderful watch. Let's see what it does.
 

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The pushers do look like they stick out too far. Could just be the angle of the photographer.

1,800 Euro is insane unless you're getting back a watch that could pass as new. And even then with vintage you don't want it to pass as new. I'd rather not send it to Zenith, but I need a chrono seconds hand and a signed crown. Do they let these parts out of the service centers? I didn't think there are a lot of independents with LVMH parts accounts.
 

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The seller has put up pictures of all the original parts and the all look fantastic, it is just beyond me how zenith can do this to such an iconic watch, but it all to late for one bidder as he has retracted his bid reducing the current price on the watch significantly.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
The seller has put up pictures of all the original parts and the all look fantastic, it is just beyond me how zenith can do this to such an iconic watch, but it all to late for one bidder as he has retracted his bid reducing the current price on the watch significantly.
Interesting. With these original parts you can restore the watch to its former glory and you have some rare spare parts to keep or to resell, which should increase the value of the lot.
 

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Discussion Starter #11 (Edited)
sold on 03 dec 2013 for
EUR 5,350.00 + shipping (
the sale was limited to the European Union, shipping within EU was 70 euro)

Hartmut, you missed your chance again!





 

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That's rather more that I bought my ChronoMaster for - and my bank account hasn't improved since then! :-(

My wife says that I should write: "when I look at my bank account, all I can see is flies hovering around"!! :-d

But if anyone is willing to make me a Christmas present of the right sort, I certainly wouldn't say No.....! b-)

Hartmut Richter
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
That's rather more that I bought my ChronoMaster for - and my bank account hasn't improved since then! :-(

My wife says that I should write: "when I look at my bank account, all I can see is flies hovering around"!! :-d

But if anyone is willing to make me a Christmas present of the right sort, I certainly wouldn't say No.....! b-)

Hartmut Richter
Hartmut, I guess that makes you the henpecked husband then.

But if you had the guts to buy this watch, you would strike a good deal, because

1. you would have a great watch to wear
2. the intrinsic value is much higher

Consider this: an ebay sale is a fast auction; it does get a lot of exposure, but it goes so fast that the price must be reduced to compensate. And it should be, as the buyer should be getting a good deal. So I like to think that the intrinsic value that can be deducted from the ebay sale, is about twice that amount.

Then compare this watch to others from the same period, such as a Heuer Monaco or a Rolex Daytona. The Heuer Monaco now goes for roughly double the amount. Your average Rolex Daytona sells for approximately four times that amount (and some even a lot more).

But the A386 is certainly not less than the others: it is far more beautiful and has a movement that is technically far more advanced. So in time the A386 is bound to catch up with those others and should even surpass them. And that, my friend, is the real intrinsic value of this watch.

Don't even try to explain this to your wife. And don't wait for anybody else to give you this for Christmas. Because, if you don't get this for yourself, nobody else will b-)
 

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Henpecked? Not really - when I bought my ChronoMaster all those years ago, we had less cash than now and my wife practically urged me to get it (for otherwise, I would never get it). Maybe that's the power of whining - and maybe I haven't whined about the A386 enough. But there are so many others I should then whine about (Cal. 135, Cal. 71, JLC Memovox Cal. 825......).

But generally, I agree with your other comments. That watch is simply priceless - only 2500 made, classic design, first ever automatic chronograph; it makes you wonder how a simple Daytona can fetch 100 time that much!

Hartmut Richter
 

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Discussion Starter #15 (Edited)
Henpecked? Not really - when I bought my ChronoMaster all those years ago, we had less cash than now and my wife practically urged me to get it (for otherwise, I would never get it). Maybe that's the power of whining - and maybe I haven't whined about the A386 enough. But there are so many others I should then whine about (Cal. 135, Cal. 71, JLC Memovox Cal. 825......).

But generally, I agree with your other comments. That watch is simply priceless - only 2500 made, classic design, first ever automatic chronograph; it makes you wonder how a simple Daytona can fetch 100 time that much!

Hartmut Richter
You see: your wife urged you, Hartmut. Hopelessly henpecked ;-)

All right if there are others on your list: but if you can choose only one, which will it be? One? Or none, because you can't get all? Which will it be :) ?
 

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Hmmmm. Only one allowed. Let's see, here are some watches with what attracts them to me....

ChronoMaster Cal. 410: very stylish, 1950s looks but automatic (and with date)

A386: iconic dial, one of the very first, has lume but that has long gone

Some other model with stylish looks but lume (e.g. Pilot Big Date): has nighttime visibility

A waterproof EP, e.g. Rainbow model: you can take it anywhere including in the water (plus it has some lume - but often tritum so also gone dead)

Cal. 71: interesting design which you can actually feel every time you concentrate on what's on your wrist, plus has a date and is very rare

Cal. 135: functionally the simplest of the lot so mainly attractive due to the complex movement design (not visible in everyday life) and also the rarity

On the whole, the watch that covers most of what I want is the one I have: the ChronoMaster Cal. 410. Which is why I would never even think about trading it. As for the rest, I suffer less from my wife's influence that from my upbringing: I have no problem admitting that when I was young, my personal means were extremely tight so I (had to) turn(ed) over practically every penny three times before spending it. I am the sort of person who has to go through several months of agonizing over something not essential for survival, never having it leave my mind before I will actually go and buy it. I still find it a very useful policy for avoiding debt or waste. :)

Hartmut Richter
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
Hartmut, you should stick to what you believe in. That said, personally I don't agree that getting an A386 would cause much debt nor that it could ever be a waste: these are irrational fears IMHO. Nor do I agree that the A386 just has an iconic dial, it is much more, to start with: the case is very special as well. And it is a truly historic watch, since it is the first of all the Zenith El Primero's (although the A384 and A385 were made simultaneously). To stick with your criteria, the A386 is much rarer and better waterproof than say a cal. 135. And there is really no comparison with the Pilot Big Date: the Pilot Big Date must be (almost) twice as thick and five times the weight, besides you're comparing different centuries here. Same for the Chronomaster: must be a lot heavier to wear, and it is not at a vintage. But the Chronomaster is a nice watch : wish you'd share a pic with us every so often ;-)
 

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Not before Christmas - the X-mas rush is particularly bad this year. However, you're right: I really must make a New Year's resolution to photograph the collection this year.....

Hartmut Richter
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
... That watch is simply priceless - only 2500 made, classic design, first ever automatic chronograph; it makes you wonder how a simple Daytona can fetch 100 time that much!

Hartmut Richter
Like Ben said, there is another for sale: Zenith El Primero Ref A386 Year 1969 | eBay

It looks all original, including crown and pushers, except the service dial. The case has been polished but not too bad (although this is subjective). Original tachymeter shows some fading. Serial number is barely visible, according to Haga it is 862D690 (according to the seller: 86xD5xx), which puts it in the third production run, from 1970.

Let's see what it does.

$_57.JPG $_57 (2).JPG
 

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Like Ben said, there is another for sale: Zenith El Primero Ref A386 Year 1969 | eBay

It looks all original, including crown and pushers, except the service dial. The case has been polished but not too bad (although this is subjective). Original tachymeter shows some fading and the hands. Serial number is reportedly 862D690: third production run, from 1970.

Let's see what it does

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I'm a big fan of the Zenith El Primero and would love to own that watch at some point, but the used market on these watches doesn't seem to be favorable. The original design is still the best one and is the one to get, but used ones are so expensive, and then servicing has to be factored into the equation because that watch is considered to be very difficult and expensive to service -- and that's if you can actually find someone to work on it. I think owners of used El Primeros have gotten a lot of traction out of Zenith's grossly inaccurate claim that this watch was the first automatic chronograph; third is more like it. Making an announcement that you have the world's first automatic chronograph without actually making that watch available for sale doesn't mean that you have the first automatic chronograph; it means you were the first to make an announcement that you're going to be selling an automatic chronograph. Heuer and Seiko actually have much stronger claims to being first.

In any case, and given that history, I don't see the value in spending more money on a used El Primero when a new one with the original design can be purchased on the grey market for under $6k.
 
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