WatchBox Reviews

2021 ZENITH Chronomaster Sport Review! 03.3100.3600/21.M3100 Zenith El Primero Watch Review

The Zenith Chronomaster Sport 03.3100.3600/21.M3100 is encased in 40.5mm of stainless steel surrounding a black dial on a stainless steel bracelet. Features of this Zenith Chronomaster Sport include hours, minutes, small seconds, date and chronograph. This Zenith watch also measures 13.8mm in thickness and 47mm from lug-to-lug. The 2021 Zenith Chronomaster Sport is here, and Tim Mosso’s hands-on review showcases the most discussed – and controversial – new watch of 2021. This Zenith Chronomaster Sport, reference 03.3100.3600/21.M3100, is a 41mm stainless steel El Primero chronograph with styling features that parallel the Rolex Daytona. Does this Zenith sports chronograph trade too heavily on its borrowed style, or is it a class leading product in its own right? Launched in late January, the 2021 Chronomaster Sport immediately inspired comparisons to Rolex’s red-hot stainless steel and ceramic Daytona 116500LN. With a steel case, a ceramic bezel, Oyster-like bracelet and clasp, and white or black dials, the new Zenith makes no apologies for or secret of its design inspiration. From the case’s side profile or three-quarter perspective of the lugs, the Chronomaster Sport looks more like a Zenith than a Rolex. From head-on, the resemblance is harder to avoid, but Tim opines that the black-dial Chronomaster looks less like the Rolex than its white-dial counterpart. Zenith’s new bracelet is well made, but it bears a close intentional resemblance to the Rolex Oyster bracelet found on the Daytona. A deployant clasp with a single folding hinge and a clamshell lock immediately recalls a similar component built by Rolex, but it lacks both the “Easylink” quick adjustment system and the secondary lift-lock trigger that keeps the Oyster secure even when the clamshell is displaced. Moreover, Zenith’s clasp feels more similar to a 1990s Rolex clasp in metal gauge and solidity. Several divots have been drilled into the clasp to allow adjustment of the bracelet’s anchor point, but unlike those on the Rolex, these divots have been drilled through the claps body, and they resemble the strap-tool holes on Oyster clasps of previous generations. Of course, for $500 less, this Chronomaster Sport can be purchased on a strap, but the $10,000 full-bracelet model is the best value. Inside the case, Zenith’s well known overlapping chronograph registers depart from Rolex conventions. Tri-tone dial counters further depart from Geneva practice and are clearly products of Le Locle. The Chronomaster Sport incorporates the traditional Zenith date at 4:30 on its dial, and that furthers its departure from the no-date Daytona. Zenith’s redesigned El Primero chronograph caliber ensures that the Chronomaster is as distinct as possible from its aesthetic source material. Unlike the Daytona, the Chronomaster includes a sapphire display caseback. A push-down crown secures the case, but it matches the 100-meter water resistance of the Cosmograph. Pump pushers control the chronograph functions, and their lack of any screw-down or crown guard hardware distinguishes this facet of the watch from the 116500LN. Inside, the El Primero caliber 3600 continues the legacy of Zenith’s most famous product, but significant upgrades have been made compared to the older caliber 400. First seen in 2019 on the 50th anniversary Chronomaster II, the Zenith 3600 increases the El Primero’s power reserve from 50 to 60 hours and adds a hacking seconds function. Chronograph operation continues to rely on a tandem of column wheel actuation and horizontal clutch engagement. Jewel count increases from the prior 31 to 35, and the 36,000 VpH escapement endures in unlubricated silicon. Caliber 3600 also incorporates the Zenith “Striking 10th” foudroyante first showcased in 2010. Thanks to the latter mechanism, the chronograph’s 1/10th of a second resolution can be read with greater ease by means of a chronograph seconds hand that traverses the main dial every ten seconds. The ceramic bezel has been calibrated so that each second of chronograph operation sees the seconds hand traverse six seconds’ worth of distance around the dial. By spreading the fractions of a second over 36 degrees of angular distance, Zenith allows its user to more easily read partial seconds. This is a tremendous improvement over conventional displays of chronograph hash marks. Moreover, the Zenith Striking 10th systems visually is spectacular. Many well-loved Zenith designs of the past including the Rainbows, De Lucas, Tipo CP-2 pilot’s chronograph, and the 1970s El Primero “TV Screen” have drawn heavily on the style of successful competitors. Past is prologue, and the newest addition to Zenith’s catalog combines a proven Rolex aesthetic with a modicum of original cues and a brand-defining movement of class-leading quality. For complete details, watch the full Zenith Chronomaster Sport review by Tim Mosso!