Zenith El Primero 36’000 VpH Hands-On

Launched at Baselworld 2016, and inspired by the Lightweight Striking 10th Chronograph, the new El Primero 36’000 VpH has a similar aesthetic, for considerably lower price.

The El Primero 36’000 VpH features a stainless steel case instead of carbon fiber, and the movement is not as complicated as the lightweight striking 10th version, but the watch does feature the same sporty tri-color theme, an open-worked dial, and a high-beat El Primero Chronograph movement with 1/10th of a second accuracy.

Measuring 45 mm in diameter, with sapphire crystals on both sides of the dial, this is a bold timepiece the flaunts its 5Hz mechanical engine.

The dial is unique within the 36’000 VPH collection, thanks to its date disc that features stencil-type numeral with a bright red background at 6 o’clock. A partially skeletonized dial reveals the mechanics beneath, as well as making the anthracite, blue and light gray, snailed counters, stand out. Red accents enhance the sporty nature of the timepiece, with a dark gray outer ring displaying a tachymeter scale, and a slate gray inner bezel ring with applied, facetted luminescent hour-markers that work with the large baton-shaped luminescent steel hour and minute hands to give the time. Completing the aesthetic is Zenith’s signature red star-tipped chronograph second hand.


El Primero caliber 400B powers the central hours and minutes, small seconds, chronograph, and date functions. It has 326 total components and is automatically by a skeletonized oscillating weight, and has a power reserve of 50-hours. The components have an industry finish, including a gray theme that presumably is achieved with both ruthenium (grayish) and rhodium treatments, as opposed to just rhodium (which is bright silver). The straight-graining finishing of the components is used in favor Geneva stripes and perlage, which makes perfect sense considering that this is not going for the traditional El Primero aesthetic.

Completing each timepiece is either a black perforated rubber strap that is secured by a triple folding steel clasp, or a stainless steel bracelet. (Ref. 03.2522.400/69.R576) The retail price is $6,900 and it will be available in stores beginning in September.