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2021 Zenith Chronomaster Sport vs Rolex Daytona: Is This El Primero Better Than a Rolex?

Contact tmosso@thewatchbox.com for pricing and availability; Either I have it, or I can get it! The 2021 Zenith Chronomaster Sport was compared to the Rolex Daytona from the moment Zenith launched its latest El Primero. Like the Rolex, the newest Zenith chronograph incorporates a stainless steel case, a black ceramic bezel, and the choice of either a white or black lacquered dial. The $10,000 Zenith compares favorably to the $40,000 used Rolex, and despite a clear resemblance, the Chronomaster Sport represents better value for watch collectors looking to buy this El Primero new or used. Zenith’s Chronomaster Sport measures 41mm in diameter and 13.8mm thick. It is slightly broader and considerably thicker than the Rolex, but most people who can wear one can wear both. The Chronomaster’s sharp lugs profiles are more severe than the tapered tips of the Rolex case, but each watch features a bracelet of near identical appearance. The Rolex Oyster bracelet clearly served as inspiration for Zenith’s three-link design, but Zenith employs double-ended screws and bars to secure its removable links. In order to size the Zenith’s bracelet, owners will require a specialized tool or exceptionally steady hands while wielding two flathead screwdrivers. The Zenith’s deployant clasp bears a shocking resemblance to Rolex’s Oyster clasp, but the Le Locle watch’s deployant is of markedly lower quality. Despite the shortcomings of Zenith’s bracelet, it remains the easy choice for watch buyers. At $10,000, the full-bracelet Chronomaster Sport represents better value than the same watch sold for $9,500 on a factory rubber strap. Watch collectors who want the strap are encouraged to buy it as an accessory for their bracelet-equipped model; doing the opposite will cost more money in the end. But the Zenith Chronomaster impresses with a handsome dial ringed by a ceramic bezel. Unlike the tachymeter-clad Daytona, the Chronomaster Sport employs a ten-second scale for use with the Striking Tenth complication. This foudroyant chronograph seconds hand makes a full circuit of the dial every ten seconds, and the 360-degree ceramic scale enables easy reading of tenths of seconds. While every Zenith-branded El Primero Chronograph since 1969 has been capable of measuring intervals as short as a tenth of a second, conventional subdivided chronograph seconds displays were too small to read easily. Elsewhere on the dial, Zenith’s A386 “tri tone” multicolor registers are present and correct. The excess overlap of previous versions here is replaced by scales that preserve only a fraction of the superimposed style of the older Zenith chronographs. As a result, the constant seconds, chronograph 60-second, and chronograph minutes registers are legible in their entirety. Zenith here employs a chronograph minutes register that reads up to 60 minutes, a welcome upgrade from the 30-minute display of most chronograph watches. Since the arrival of the El Primero chronograph movement in 1969, Zenith watch collectors had awaited the launch of an upgraded “El Primero II.” 2019’s 50th anniversary caliber 3600 heralded the era of a more modern El Primero chrono. The 2021 Chronomaster Sport uses caliber 3600 and makes it available in series production. El Primero 3600 gains ten hours of power reserve for a total of 60 hours, and the introduction of hacking seconds marks an historic first for a non-Defy El Primero movement. The striking tenth foudroyant, quickset date, and low-friction silicon escapement are carryovers from previous 21st century El Primero variants. Water resistance matches that of the Rolex Daytona at 100 meters. Unlike the Rolex Daytona, the Zenith Chronomaster Sport incorporates a sapphire display caseback, so watch buyers who select Le Locle’s favorite son will enjoy full vision of the still handsome caliber 3600. A nickel anthracite coating, spiral-spoke chronograph clutch wheels, and a visible column wheel with lateral clutch ensure that the El Primero would win the appearance stakes against Rolex even if the Daytona were fitted with a sapphire caseback. In today’s marketplace, the steel Rolex Daytona is a $13,150 new watch that becomes a $40,000 used watch. By comparison, the Zenith Chronomaster Sport retails for ten grand and sells for roughly the same $10,000 as a used watch. While not as plentiful at dealers as other Zenith watches, the Chronomaster Sport supply pipeline looks nothing like the years-long waiting lists at authorized Rolex dealers. The 2021 Zenith Chronomaster Sport isn’t the most original watch design of the year, but it is one of the best all-around men’s watches for the money. Please subscribe to our channel for the best luxury watch reviews on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/WatchBoxReviews/?sub_confirmation=1 Visit our website at www.thewatchbox.com for the latest pre-owned luxury watch arrivals and industry-leading value in previously loved luxury timepieces.