The Unlikely Trio (Sort Of…) – The Zenith x Mr. Porter x Bamford Watch Dept. Chronomaster El Primero Solar Blue

Article By: Logan Hannen

NOV 01, 2018

Bamford Watch Department has announced their newest collaboration, this time with Zenith and men’s lifestyle brand Mr. Porter – The Chronomaster El Primero Solar Blue.

Bamford is known for offering a very high level of timepiece customization, working with brands such as Tag Heuer, Bvlgari, and Zenith to give consumers the opportunity to take stock models from those brands and elevate them to become truly their own “piece unique,” at a price that, while higher than the standard price, of course, is not terribly unreasonable.

Mr. Porter has become truly iconic within the men’s lifestyle world as being the “Men’s Style Destination” as far as online luxury goods are concerned. Mr. Porter is also no stranger to horological collaborations, having previously worked with Ressence on a version of their iconic Type 1, as well as offering for sale a range of other highly respected brands, everyone from NOMOS to Panerai to Jaeger LeCoultre. They also sell Zenith, and thus the connective tissue of this collaboration came to be.

The Watch
The Chronomaster El Primero Solar Blue is, in many ways, a very standard Chronomaster under the hood from what has been said about the piece so far. The piece is powered by the El Primero 4069, a standard in-house Zenith El Primero variant, this one without the date or an hour counter subdial. Otherwise, we’re looking at the same iconic automatic chronograph movement, operating at 36,000 VPH, that has been in Zenith’s wheelhouse, in some form, for decades.

Zenith x Mr. Porter x Bamford Chronomaster El Primero Solar Blue Dial
Source: Mr. Porter

The main focus of the watch, though, is its design. According to Mr. Porter, the design for this collaboration is based on the Heritage 146, another two-register chronograph in the modern Zenith lineup. This particular design, though, takes cues from much older Zenith pieces. The tachymeter track, for example, is a visual callback to the El Primero from 1971, while the collaborative model’s red accents tip their hats to Zenith chronographs of the 1950s.

It is the Solar Blue dial, however, that is undoubtedly meant to be the focal point. It’s modern, not quite a sunburst but, in Mr. Porter lingo, a “sunrise” dial that plays with the light while maintaining a very specific gradient. The pointed nature of the minute track further emphasizes this “solar” theme, almost giving the impression of the image we think of when we picture the sun, with its pointed rays jutting out from its circular core.

Zenith x Mr. Porter x Bamford Chronomaster El Primero Solar Blue Alcantara Strap
Source: Mr. Porter

The El Primero Solar Blue comes on a rich blue Alcantara strap with a standard pin buckle for easy adjustability. Alcantara, for reference, is a very specific type of microfiber suede manufactured by the company of the same name. It functions as a vintage looking addition to the piece, while being modern in construction, keeping with the overall design philosophy of the watch.

The Damage
The Zenith x Mr. Porter x Bamford Watch Department Chronomaster El Primero Solar Blue comes in at $7,500 USD, and is limited to a run of 25 pieces.

Christian’s Take
Let’s call this what it is : a new dial. It’s not a revolution, important release or anything deserving of a standing ovation. That said, I love this release. For $7,500 you’re getting one of history’s most important chronographs topped with a fresh and funky dial configuration. The team at Mr. Porter had fun making it and the enjoyment is a little infectious. My biggest criticism? Limiting the run to 25 pieces. Is Mr. Porter not confident that they could sling more? Or are they attempting to draw a correlation between rarity and long-term collectibility? I hope the former.