top of page
  • Alvin

Watch Review | Zenith El Primero Synopsis

Updated: Jun 29, 2023

The review is way overdue. I've bought two more grailesque timepieces since the Zenith joined the collection. That's good, and also not good. But now I have to spend some quality time with my watches, it is long overdue. I have a bit more free time, hence the pick up in blog posts and a few YouTube videos. I still have a few things to finish on the house, small things, things that are easily overlooked and have been. Unfortunately so has the Synopsis, amidst a frenzied house renovation, I have hardly worn it since it joined us. This is a shame, a crying shame; a god damn, low down dirty son of a bitch of a shame. It's a lovely watch, uncommon and unapologetic about its status as the outcast El Primero. I love it.

Zenith El Primero Synopsis, watch dial watch photography

Purchase / Post / Packaging

If you've read the other posts relating to this watch you will know that it was a big moment for me. A coming of age if you will, it's a grail purchase really. A 10 year old watch, the paperwork states 2014, I think it was only available for a few years. It was bought with box and papers from Watches of Mayfair for I what I would call a good deal. I made an offer via eBay and it was accepted. It also went through the eBay authentication process which was nice. My first experience of that, seems a good service, though not required in this instance with a reputable dealer. It was well packaged and everything was in good condition on arrival. I haven't seen one quite as cheap since, and there aren't too many out there for sale which is also a draw for me. I was shook to the core on opening this one, it's special.


Zenith El Primero Synopsis watch caseback


Case, Dial & Hands

This is one of my favourite dials. The Zenith star is a statement, it is symbol of longevity, the heavens, it exists above all else. The dial is busy, with a number of nice details (where the devil is) as well as the open window at 9 o'clock. It's a 40mm case which isn't too chunky at all, and the crown is a nice medium size, it's tidy, and would fit under a smart cuff. The hands are rather large, they are in a style I haven't seen before, which is cool. Are they semi-skeleton or split baton or tuning forks? I don't know.


We have a lot going on, layers of concentric circular detail here. Starting on the outside, there is a curved polished bezel, then under the sapphire glass comes the chapter ring minute track with Roman numerals aligned with the baton hour indices, a nice touch. Those hour batons are nestled into a fluted ring from which they protrude through a seconds track and gently slope onto the dial. There is a drop of lume on the inside tip of the batons, they look like a nail on a finger, a single kit-at finger maybe, but let's not confuse things. So, not dissimilar to the Seiko SARB configuration for the batons/lume, it's subtle but effective, giving the watch the versatility to be worn all day and night.

Zenith El Primero Synopsis, watch photography

Open the window it's hot in there... The small seconds is a three prong windmill that does get a little lost in the open window but still looks great on closer inspection. The fourth wheel, escape wheel, pallet fork, and balance wheel can all be seen under the unusually formed bridges that look to have been perlaged. The escape wheel and pallet fork in this movement are made from silicon, which gives them there iridescent purple and blue sheens, they pop under the light alongside the three blued screws, and it looks great.

Zenith El Primero Synopsis, Zenith watches

Movement & Accuracy

Believe it or not this is a pared down version of the legendary El Primero movement. For some this is blasphemy, they would rather spend time in the devils sphincter than entertain the idea that a non-chronograph movement can be called the El Primero. They spit at the mention of it. I do not, I welcome this freak onto my wrist and hope one day one of its chronograph siblings can join it.

Zenith El Primero Synopsis, Zenith watch photography

The El primero chronograph is a legendary movement, technically superb with a history to match. It remains what it is. The non-chronograph version simply adds another branch to story. The watch looks great, the movement is reliable and stunning as ever. It answered another question too, what if I want a non-defy Zenith but not another chronograph?

Zenith El Primero Synopsis, watch photography

As you might know the El Primero runs at 5Hz, which means 10 beats per second and 36,000 beats per hour. If you listen to it, you can hear to going hell for leather, but you have to put it next to your ear to enjoy.


It's accurate, everything ticking as it should be. I haven't the means to test it so maybe I should change the name of this section...


Strap / Wearability

Though a touch flashy on the bracelet, at 40mm this an inherently wearable and versatile watch. Sporty and casual on the on the polished and brushed steel bracelet it's got presence and class. One issue I had was that I had to buy a special pin popper for the bracelet screws, as they aren't your standard fair. I suppose I could have got someone to do it, but I like to have the gadgety tools on hand, and to expand the kit. It is an interesting and fun watch to wear, there's a lot of attention to detail and quirky design touches but somehow it remains smart.

Zenith El Primero Synopsis, watch photography

My measurements come in at 40mm for the case, with width including crown coming in at 44mm and the depth is 11.8mm. The lug-to-lug is a reasonable 47mm, not massive but could cause issues for the skinny wristed. It looks acceptable on my 16.7cm(6.5") wrist.


On a leather strap it would pair nicely with the most formal suit while adding edge with that open window, I'd do that if it was my only watch.

Imgs: Chrono24


The lume is welcome as it adds versatility to the package, the photos aren't great as I was in the cupboard under the stairs but you can see the lume is decent especially on the hands.

In addition, the watch is water resistant to 100m, which means you can swim with on. So, you could go swimming, go to a Redbar meet, come back do a bit desk diving, then change the strap and go out to a ball. It's pretty great.


Competition / Value for money

The fact it is an in-house movement is important for me, partly to justify the price and to have that heritage, plus a watch with a story, albeit an odd claim to fame. Obviously, it's only available pre-owned now and prices seen are between £3000-5000 in various colour and strap combinations. It's pricey, but if you can get a deal, you get a lot for your money. I made an offer and it came in at under £3000, which I think is acceptable.

Its direct in-house competition are the chronograph varieties and also the older Zenith Espada, which looks similar but is the older version, and also has the same bastardised El P movement. Zenith does the open window like nobody else, and makes it work somehow. There are haters of course, aren't there always. It is an acquired taste I guess, but we like different, unique and brave over here at the Theowrist, and Zenith certainly fit the bill. I guess the Hamilton Jazzmaster Open Heart, Claude Bernard Sophisticated Classics Open Heart, Rado Centrix Open Heart and the Tissot T-Classic Gentleman Open Heart, have more open windows/hearts than just the circular opening showing the balance wheel as is quite common.

They are all considerably cheaper the the El P Synopsis. The Tissot doesn't looks half bad, and the Hamilton is a classic.


Zenith El Primero Synopsis, watch photography

Conclusion


Is the Synopsis a great one watch, two strap collection or what? One watch collection, what the hell does that mean? Doesn't make sense in any way, shape or form. It's a flashy everyday watch that you can jump into the sea with and a flashy dress watch. I guess the only thing missing is a chronograph, never mind. Ok, so it's a bit flashy, but it's a statement piece. It says I don't care what you think of me, I'm a non-chronograph El Primero, so what? The chronograph is awesome, I want one in my collection one day (Striking 10th probs) but the Synopsis is better off without it. It's not for everyone, I get that, but the combination of prestige, story, detail, execution, and statement make it very much for me.


As I look at it on my wrist right now, as I write, the bevelled edge of the open window and batons catch the light from the screen (I'm sitting in the dark otherwise), it looks special. There are many other watches at this price point, but very few, if any, will give you this timekeeping experience, the mix of finesse, history and edge. Every time you look at it, it's an event. It's never boring, it's never normal, it's a true Zenith watch, here to let you know that it exists to keep life interesting. I love it a lot, obviously.


Yours El Primarily,


Alvin




 

Particulars


MODEL NUMBER

03.2170.4613/21.m2170


CASE DIAMETER / THICKNESS / MATERIAL

40mm / 11.8mm / 316L Stainless Steel


LUG WIDTH / LUG TO LUG

20mm / 47 mm


MOVEMENT

El Primero 4613

Self-winding mechanical

Power reserve: 50 h, 36'000 variations / hours

Silicium escapement


WATER RESISTANCE

to 100m



BONUS IMAGES


I'm just getting back into the creative side of things which is fun but some of my equipment is in storage and god knows where after the house move. I have this lamp that you can change the colour of, and it also strobes and flashes. As I got ready to shoot photos and video, I thought, yes, I can use the lamp to spice things up a bit, purple, blue, yes. I turned it on, and it was green, and wouldn't change. So I took a few green shots...what else could I do!?






Thanks for visiting, I appreciate you. Now go and buy a watch.











Comments


bottom of page