Quite possibly an ongoing series, today’s bang-for-your-buck is the Zenith El Primero 36000. Specifically the 38mm version that is branded “original”, as in the original case specs/design from 1969.
The history behind the El primero is legendary. It was one the first three automatic chronograph ever made. The Heuer c.11 and the Seiko c.6139 being the other two and all were released within months of each other in 1969. The Zenith is named “El Primero”, which means “the first” in Spanish, because Zenith released their prototype before either Heuer or Seiko could release theirs (although both the heuer and Seiko were available for purchase before the El Primero).
Since then, not only is the El Primero the only one still in production today (with evolutionary changes of course), but during the 80’s Rolex switched from Valjoux to the El Primero to use in their legendary Daytonas, and if it wasn’t for this legendary movement, who knows what would have happened to Zenith as a company. In short, the El Primero movement is an excellent and historically very important movement, a true legend in every respect.
We’re endorsing the 36000 38mm version because it truly is the closest to the original back in 1969, which means it’s also the most beautiful (the tricolor sub-dials are classic Zenith). Zenith has some variations of the same movement used in other models, but the only one that truly matters, or that has the understated style of the original is the 38mm 36000 vph.
And as you’d expect, being the simplest, most understand also means its the most affordable. Consider that at the time of this post Jomashop has it at about $4,800.
Not bad, and a watch that should be on everyone’s wish list.