If you want to talk about collecting niches, how about chronographs tied to animation and hand drawn characters? Off the top of my head we’ve got the various Snoopy themed Speedmasters, plus the Tintin, which has absolutely exploded in value in recent years. And then you’ve got Zenith with their watches inspired by Lupin the Third, a popular Japanese manga series. Now, I’m not an anime guy, so I can’t even pretend to be conversant in any discussion of the finer points of this particular series. The Lupin for Dummies version of the story, though, is pretty straightforward: a character in the series is seen wearing a watch that’s clearly modeled on the Zenith A384 chronograph (it does have an unmistakable silhouette), and these limited editions are based on the imagined watches as seen in the series. This third and final version of the limited edition series is quite literally a mashup of the first two.
The Chronomaster Revival Lupin the Third Final Edition prominently features a two-toned dial that literally combines features of the first two Lupin watches (you can see them in the image slider below). One half of the dial is a glossy black, lifted directly from the first Lupin LE, and the other is an off-white borrowed from the second. The white half has contrasting black subdials at 3:00 and 6:00, and the black half’s lone subdial at 9:00 is set off in gray. Everyone keeps saying that two-tone is coming back, but I have a feeling this is not what they had in mind. Still, there’s something strangely appealing about the black and white contrast here, even if I’m having a tough time imagining what it would be like to actually wear one of these. As someone who isn’t a Lupin expert, this dial brings an energy that has me thinking of something else entirely.
As you might expect, creating a dial like this to the level of quality you’d expect from a brand like Zenith is no easy task, and requires a specialized process involving several steps outside the scope of their normal dial production. Blank dials are finished entirely in the white color seen on the right side of a finished dial first, with that side’s black chrono registers getting milled before the gray register on the opposite side. A production challenge inherent in making these dials is ensuring that colors don’t bleed from one side to the other, so a protective layer is applied to the white half before the black half is painted. Every step adds a new opportunity for an error to be made in a process that’s largely manual with plenty of handwork, so it’s not a surprise that only 250 of these special dials will be made.
The end result is a dial that’s genuinely unique. You can call it design forward, avant-garde, or just plain strange, but it’s an impressive addition to a growing catalog of Zenith watches that feel truly inspired. More than most brands, Zenith is balancing releases with a clear fidelity to the past that could easily pass as vintage watches to the uninformed with watches that feel completely contemporary. Think of the Poker Chip, for instance, or last year’s collaboration with artist Felipe Pantone. It’s great to see a brand like Zenith embrace their past while also looking ahead, offering watches that are borderline transgressive to more adventurous collectors.
The A384 case needs little introduction at this point as we’ve covered this case shape fairly extensively, but it’s always worth pointing out that the proportions on this 37mm cushion style case work remarkably well. The “Revival” in this watch’s name points to Zenith’s enthusiastic rerelease and reinterpretation of watches from the 60s and 70s, and they’ve wisely chosen not to mess with the size and shape of the original references that served so well fifty years ago. If you haven’t had a chance to try one of these on, it’s well worth it if you’re a longtime Zenith fan or just beginning to get curious.
The Chronomaster Revival Lupin the Third Final Edition has a retail price of $10,000, and is available through Zenith’s online boutique and physical boutique locations worldwide. Zenith