Zenith El Primero A3818 Cover Girl

holy grail of Zenith - fantastic condition - Gay-Frères bracelet

This 1969 Zenith El Primero A3818, better known by its nickname "Cover Girl", is one of the holy grails of vintage Zenith collecting.

The "Cover Girl" is an automatic chronograph powered by the legendary Zenith caliber 3019 PHC. The El Primero movement was manufactured in 1969 and was a high frequency self-winding chronograph caliber - the first of its kind. Zenith made its El Primero movements available to only a handful of other manufacturers. Among them was Rolex. The Rolex Daytona 16520 is powered by the modified Zenith EL Primero movement, which is why this model is nicknamed the "Zenith Daytona". The El Primero movement also has a date quickset - which is a rare feature for a watch from the 1970s.

The reference A3818 got its nickname "Cover Girl" due to the fact that this model was featured on the cover of the famous and important Zenith book "Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865" by Manfred Rössler (see pictures).

In our opinion, the dial of this watch can be equated with a work of art of 20th century watchmaking. The longer you look at the dial, the more minimalist details you notice. We love the combination of the vertical finish of the main dial and the centric cut of the sunken sub-registers. This makes for a wonderful play of light when viewing the watch in sunlight. The popular EL Primero dial layout features two large sub-registers with running seconds at 9 o'clock and 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock, and a smaller 12-hour totalizer at 6 o'clock. All three sub-registers are each surrounded by a ring, which has black and silver sections with line markers in inverted colors. On the dial edge, you'll find the superfine 1/5-minute scale with varying stroke lengths. Good readability is provided by the long tritium hour markers and the baton-shaped hands. A real eye-catcher is the red chronograph seconds hand in its popular paddle shape. The date display is located between 4 and 5 o'clock in a trapezoidal window. And last but not least, the watch features a tachymeter scale on the dial edge.

This breathtaking dial is housed in a fine tonneau case with high recognition value. On the wrist, the original Gay-Frères ladder bracelet provides a stunning vintage look and comfortable wear.

Condition report
Dial: blue metallic dial in fantastic condition - natural patina on the edges of the subdials, which is common for this model - original tritium lume with even and matching vanilla patina in indexes and hands - perfect silver print on the dial and on the tachymeter scale - Zenith star logo at 12 - signed "Zenith Chronograph Automatic El Primero" at 12 o'clock and "T SWISS MADE T" at 6 o'clock.

Case: dream condition for collectors who want to wear their watches regularly: Worn, but unpolished - intact bevels and lines - small scratch on the side of the case at 9 o'clock and 5 o'clock - original and intact sunburst on the lugs - legible case number on the screw-down back showing the NATO star - original winding crown with the NATO star.

Movement: automatic caliber Zenith El Primero 3019 PHC operates flawlessly - timegrapher: rate: +9s/day, amplitude: 283, beat error: 0.2.

Bracelet: original Gay-Frères ladder bracelet - very little stretch - light wear marks - Zenith signed clasp - correct ZKM end links.

From a historical perspective, the El Primero A3818 has tremendous significance for the Zenith brand thanks to its movement and dial design. It is not for nothing that it is considered one of the "holy grails" of vintage Zenith watches, and it is not for nothing that Zenith released a faithful reproduction of the Cover Girl in 2021. But the original remains the original. We love the complicated dial, which is preserved in truly fantastic condition on this 50 years old watch. This Zenith Cover Girl is a vintage wristwatch that will make its owner very proud.

Serial number: 231Exxx

Int.Exe.: 2345060

Manufacturer: Zenith

Model: El Primero

Reference: A3818

Functions: date - chronograph - small running second - hour and minute - tachymeter - quickset date - 12 hour totalizer - 30 minutes counter - screwed-on caseback

Material: Stainless steel

Dial: blue

Watch glass: acrylic crystal

Bracelet: stainless steel

Type of clasp: deployant buckle

Diameter: 37mm

Caliber name: Zenith 3019 PHC

Movement type: automatic

Year of Manufacture: 1969

Stock No.: PTV1955

Overall condition: 9 - has rarely been worn - top condition


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