In the pantheon of watchmaking’s most iconic watches, many have received nicknames that eternally link them to famous individuals, a material or even a shape. Take, for example, names such as Paul Newman, Jo Siffert, Padellone, Bronzo, Batman... Just think of all the timepieces associated with these designations.
Among emblematic sports chronographs that have seen the light of day since the birth of the watch industry, there is only one timepiece bestowed with a sobriquet that inflames the desire of men to such an extreme — that is, of course, Zenith’s legendary El Primero Ref. A3818, otherwise known as the “Cover Girl”, thanks to its appearance on the front of Manfred Rössler’s book Zenith: Swiss Watch Manufacture Since 1865.
Why did the watch end up on the cover of a book dissecting the history of this eminent watchmaking maison? If you thought the reason was deeply linked to the narrative story that makes up the Zenith brand, the final explanation is much simpler than that. As Rössler, the author, puts it: “The beautiful blue colour led to this decision. I like blue dials.” We can’t blame him.
For those of you who have had the chance to set eyes on the “Cover Girl”, the watch can only be described as jaw-droppingly stunning. It uses the same angular, tonneau-shaped case as the Zenith Ref. A384, but features one of the most unique dials in modern watchmaking, with striations that catch the light quite magnificently. Its defining feature is a stepped or uneven racing track demarcated with thin radial lines that look like a shark’s tooth. These tiny lines, designed almost like a soundwave, lead the eye towards the combination of a pulsation and tachymeter scale above the minute track. It is important to note that there are precisely 300 of these ultra-thin markers on the dial, allowing you to read the chronograph seconds to an accuracy of 1/10th of a second, which the legendary high-frequency 5Hz (36,000vph) El Primero movement is capable of.