There is one significant advantage to this new Open collection that makes it worth considering, even if you typically find yourself averse to this type of dial. This is the rare Chronomaster with no date. Let me be more precise: this is the rare Chronomaster with no date, leaving that all important 4:30 spot on the dial untouched. I’ve never been too terribly against the 4:30 date window, particularly on these Zeniths, but if that’s offensive to you, a new option presents itself. It’s too bad, I guess, that this makes for what might amount to an impossible decision for a collector: go for the no date but suffer the open heart? If you’ve been circling an El Primero but have been reluctant because of the date placement, I wouldn’t dismiss the Open out of hand without seeing it in person and trying it on. It might surprise you like it did me. And remember, they make it in steel, too.
The other thing I’ll say about the Chronomaster Open is that the 1/10th second chronograph is actually quite a bit more intuitive than I’d have imagined. It’s one of those things that you kind of have to experience to really get a sense of, and this was my first time with a caliber 3600 equipped watch for any prolonged period. The action is crisp and feels great, and the 1/10th second format is really ideal for timing anything that you expect to be a short interval. Events that are really quick, like less than 10 seconds, are actually perfect for this watch, because you just have the centrally mounted chrono seconds hand to read in that case, and it’s the one that will present the fewest problems for aging eyes.
Eventually, my little adventure with the gold Chronomaster Open came to an end, as all adventures do. I was happy to release it back to its rightful place. Putting on a steel watch for the first time after boxing up the Zenith, I felt an immediate return to the status quo that I was perfectly fine with. But even with the modest agita that came with guarding this gold piece for a weekend, it’s easy to see the appeal. Just the other day I wrote about another gold (also, platinum) watch that I haven’t seen in person, and tried to convey that the draw of a watch like this really comes down to an appreciation for beautiful objects. Usually, for me, this is a fairly abstract concept when it comes to high value precious metal watches, but having the Chronomaster Open in my care for a few days made it more real. This watch, the Zenith, costs a little more than $20,000, which is far more than I’d be comfortable spending on anything that I’d wear on my body while navigating the Dunkin’ Donuts drive-through. But I thoroughly enjoyed living out a gold watch fantasy for a long weekend, and came away thinking that even if a gold watch doesn’t immediately make your life more glamorous, interesting, or luxurious, it presents ample opportunity to admire something that is just simply gorgeous. And that’s always something that’s worth doing, whether you’re in a busy train hall, a bar, or just dozing off on your couch as the air conditioning blasts during a hot summer weekend. Zenith