Certainly, in the early days of the company, Bamford Watch Department was responsible for some pretty divisive models. In recent times, however, and especially since aligning itself with LVMH with the buddy-buddy pact made by Jean Claude Biver and George Bamford, one of the world’s most prominent customizers seems to have found a groove that is reaping dividends. Yes, there is still a lot of black going around, but it seems that the modifications are becoming a little less brash and far more deferential than they were in the past. This new boutique edition is a perfect example of this more mature approach. The Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Radar watch integrates several throwback elements in a very modern fashion, amounting to a strong addition to the Chronomaster line.
With just 50 units being made available to boutiques worldwide, this is not a watch you’re too likely to see in the wild unless you happen to become one of the lucky owners. The official relationship between Bamford and LVMH is trailblazing for the industry. These limited edition runs of models that, prior to the signing of the contract that locked up Bamford’s services for exclusive use by the luxury conglomerate, would have likely been even more limited and certainly less visible, are an exciting shift for a brand that is reshaping the role after-market-focused companies can play in the watch world. Whether it paves the way for other customization or tuning houses to pop-up and follow in BWD’s footsteps remains to be seen, but Biver should be praised for his (characteristic) desire to take chances to stay ahead of the curve.
The Zenith Chronomaster El Primero Radar watch (reference 03.2082.400/02.R830) is powered by the El Primero Caliber 400 B, comprising 326 components and operating at the El Primero’s classic 36,000vph train count. A simple tri-compax display with a date at 6 o’clock along with high-contrast decoration makes this a very legible and versatile watch. The most striking aspect of the design is the wavy minute track, inspired by the El Primero model known as the “Cover Girl.” The burnt brown dial takes its cue from a Zenith A385 from 1969/71, while the bright red subdial at 3 o’clock has the Zenith Pocket watch from 1916 to thank for its marker arrangement.
Last week, we reviewed the Mr Porter × Bamford Watch Department × Zenith El Primero Revival A384 Edge of Space limited-edition watch that features a heavily textured, media-blasted case. With this model, Bamford hasn’t gone quite so far with the extremity of the finish but has retained the matte look with a finely blasted housing in stainless steel, measuring 42mm-wide and 12.75mm-thick. With water resistance down to 100 meters, this is a modern sport chronograph that has all the credentials to be a go-anywhere, do-anything beater, underpinned by the functional black rubber strap finished with a Cordura effect and red stitching. The price will be CHF 7,900 and the first service of the watch will be on the house.