If Zenith is known for one thing, it is their legendary El Primero movement: the world’s fastest oscillating automatic chronograph movement at the time of its unveiling in 1969. Although having struggled (like many other watchmakers) during the Quartz Crisis of the ’70s to ’80s, Zenith’s popularity of late has been largely fuelled by the re-releases of its trio of 1969 El Primero-powered offerings. Comprising of the A384, A385 and A386, the lattermost timepiece is arguably the most iconic of the trio, with its tri-coloured silver, grey and blue sub-dials going on to become a hallmark of the Le Locle manufacture.

Today, the A386’s spiritual heir is the Chronomaster Original, unveiled in 2021—a watch deliberately designed to visually resemble its storied predecessor as closely as possible. Initially, the Chronomaster Original was offered in two variations: a creamy-white dial, and a two-tone, black-and-white reverse panda dial. Both (especially the "reverse panda" variant) were extremely well-received, leading Zenith to combine the best of both in the 2023 release. Culminating in an elegant union of the black dial from the reverse panda with the famed tri-coloured sub-dials of the cream-white dial variant, the timepiece marks the first time the combination has been seen on the Chronomaster Original’s brush-polished and chamfered-edge visage.

As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. Apart from the dial, everything else from the 2021 Chronomaster Original is carried over to the 2023 iteration. It measures in at 38mmx13mm and retains the 4:30 date window and chronograph pump pushers—staying true to the visual cues of the 1969 A386. The only concessions to modernity are the domed sapphire crystal, and an update of the iconic, vintage “ladder” bracelet to a modern, three-link steel bracelet. The Chronomaster Original’s case is also manufactured from digital scans of the original A386’s, further strengthening the lineage between the two timepieces.

The El Primero Calibre 3600 movement at the heart of the Chronomaster Original is a contemporary take on the manufacture’s iconic El Primero base calibre.

Although visually identical, the high-beat, El Primero Calibre 3600 movement inside the historically accurate case brings the signature El Primero base calibre into the 21st century. The integration of a 1/10th of a second chronograph means the central red chronograph hand completes a rotation around the dial every 10 seconds—a configuration not present on the original A386. 

The 2023 Chronomaster Original is may largely be similar to its 2021 siblings, but its release still warrants celebration. The marriage of the watch’s heritage-inspired design cues with contemporary sophistication marks a noteworthy evolution of the A386’s lineage.

Watchmaker ZENITH adds another tennis player to its ever-expanding 'Friends of the Brand' roster. Argentine tennis player Francisco Cerúndolo joins former tennis coach to Serena Williams, Patrick Mouratoglou, as well as a number of other personalities pursuing excellence in their respective fields, to be selected and acknowledged by the brand.

"I am honoured to become a 'Friend of the Brand' for ZENITH. It is a dream come true to be associated with a legendary Swiss watch manufacturer that embodies innovation, precision, and a drive to reach new heights," say Cerúndolo of the appointment. The 24-year-old visited the brand's manufacture in Le Locle, Switzerland and was able experience firsthand "the timeless craftsmanship and commitment to excellence". These, he says, are values that he resonates with as an athlete.

It can be said that tennis and sports are part of Cerúndolo's DNA. He was born into a family of sports enthusiasts—his parents are former tennis players, his sister plays field hockey as part of the Argentina national team, and his younger brother Juan Manuel is also a professional tennis player. In fact, Cerúndolo has even competed in the same tournaments as his brother.

What sets him apart is his resilience and promising talents in the sport. He gained the attention of tennis fans after winning his first Swedish Open—part of the ATP Tour—last year. And earlier in June this year, achieved his second title win in Eastbourne. The latter earned Cerúndolo the honour of being the first Argentinian to win a title on grass court since 1995.

There's little doubt that Cerúndolo will only get better just based on his current trajectory alone—increasing his number of wins year on year. It's a trait that ZENITH identifies as being in line with its philosophy: Time to Reach Your Star. And Cerúndolo's seem to be shining rather brightly.

Desmond Tan seen here in the ZENITH Pilot Big Date Flyback.

Since its start in 1865, ZENITH has gone on to become the first vertically integrated Swiss watch manufacture in the world. Apart from its in-house innovation and manufactured movements, the brand is also known for its association with extraordinary figures, who dreamt big and achieved the impossible.

One such friend of ZENITH is the actor Desmond Tan, whose current favourite timepiece is the Pilot Big Date Flyback in stainless steel. We speak with the ZENITH ambassador about punctuality, rituals and the path taken to get into a role.

ESQUIRE SINGAPORE: Thanks for taking time to talk to us. First off, are you a punctual person?

DESMOND TAN: Well, I must admit, I've had my fair share of "rubber band time" moments in the past. Moments when I might have pushed the boundaries of punctuality. But, hey, that's the nature of the dreamy creative mind sometimes, right?

As I grow older (and wiser), I've come to appreciate the importance of punctuality. Time is a precious resource and being on time shows respect for both your time as well as others. I've learned to value punctuality. Especially now that I'm part of the ZENITH family where time is truly of the essence.

Having acted in both English and Mandarin dramas; are there nuances in playing roles meant for different demographics?

Absolutely! Language carries its own unique flavour. When you switch between English and Mandarin roles, there are indeed nuances to consider. The cultural context, the way emotions are being expressed and even the comedic timing can differ.

It's like switching gears and adapting to a different rhythm. But that's what makes it exciting! It allows me to explore different aspects of my craft and connect with diverse audiences. I truly embrace the challenge with open arms.

You’ve cast your lot with acting back then but if you weren’t a thespian, what would you be doing now? Will it be in the realty game?

Ah, the tantalising "what if" scenario! Well, if I weren't gracing the TV screen, I'd probably be exploring the realm of entrepreneurship. Perhaps I'd venture into the realty game, as you mentioned. Maybe even start my own business in the pet industry... who knows?

The world is full of possibilities. I've always believed in reaching for the stars, no matter the path I choose. Whether it's acting or something else, I'm always ready to seize the opportunity and make it shine!

Do you get free time for yourself?

I've been craving a lot of these blissful moments of free time. Work has been overwhelming in recent months; I'm looking forward for a break to let my soul breathe a little. A quick reminder to everyone: "Amidst the chaos and weariness, don't forget to pause, inhale deeply and let your soul breathe"

So, what do you do in your free time? Watch TV? Read?

I hardly have time to follow through with any shows due to my busy schedule. So, I watch a lot of movies like cinematic masterpieces as well as indie gems. And when it comes to reading, I just realised that I've not been reading for years now. I will set it as a priority to get back into my books after my current acting project.

Do you ever think about your legacy? You’ve talked before about making an impact in Asia, not just Singapore; how is that going?

While I'm young at heart, I do occasionally ponder about the grand tapestry of life and the legacy that I want to leave behind. As for making an impact in Asia, it's an ongoing journey. I strive to create characters and tell stories that resonate with audiences all over the world. Whether it's through film, screens or even my fashion ventures, I want to represent Singapore as an inspiring creative who constantly reaches for greater heights as I dive deeper into my inner self.

I'm fortunate to have had opportunities to work on projects that reached audiences beyond the shores of Singapore and I'm grateful for the support and love I've received throughout my career. I believe that by continuing to push boundaries, collaborating with different talents and exploring diverse narratives, I can play my part in leaving a lasting impact on the Asian entertainment industry. So, watch out, world, because I'm just getting started!

Desmond Tan, seen here in the ZENITH Pilot Big Date Flyback and holding a paper plane.

What are some of the ways you get into your roles?

Well, each role is a unique adventure and I approach it with a mix of curiosity with tons of research coupled with a sprinkle of imagination. I dive deep into understanding the character's background, motivations and emotional journey; I embrace their quirks, mannerisms, thought processes and even their speech patterns. I draw inspiration from personal experiences, observations, and the wonderful people I meet along the way. And of course, I love exploring the different physicality and mindset required for each role. It's a joyous process of discovery, and it keeps me on my toes as an actor. As cliché, as it might sound, it's a constant learning process as an actor. 100% truth!

What is a question that you wish the media would have asked you?

"If you were to win a million-dollar lucky draw, what would you want to do with it? Shoot a movie or..."

As much as I love movie making, I also have a deep love for animals and I have a dream of building an animal shelter. I wish to create a sanctuary where animals in distress can find love, care, and a second chance at a happy life. I envision a place that provides physical and emotional well-being, with dedicated staff and volunteers showering the animals with love and attention. It would also serve as an educational centre, promoting responsible pet ownership and animal welfare. I wish to work towards a world where every animal has a loving home and a wagging tail or a purr of contentment! Any readers who share the same vision with a spare million dollars, you know who to contact!

Do you have any rituals or superstitions that you employ before performing live?

I do have a few quirky habits that help me get in the zone. I use different fragrances for different characters and I'll wear the fragrance when I'm driving to work.

Also, before the cam rolls, I would like to find a quiet corner to gather my thoughts and take a few deep breaths. Deep breathing is essential. It's my way of centring myself and focusing my energy. It's all about finding that little boost of confidence and creating the right frame of the character's mindset before the camera starts rolling.

As an actor and a public figure, is it hard to maintain some secrets for your self when the cameras aren’t rolling? 

The dance between privacy and public life is something I get better at over the past years—honestly, it's still a work in progress! In this digital age, indeed, maintaining secrets can sometimes be a challenge. However, everyone deserves a certain level of privacy, including public figures. It's about finding a balance between sharing parts of my life with my amazing fans and keeping some aspects sacred. At the end of the day, it's important to have a sense of self outside of the spotlight, to nurture relationships, and to enjoy those quiet moments that make us who we are. So, yes, it can be tricky but I'm learning to navigate it with grace.

Given that ZENITH means the "apex of success", what's your zenith moment in your life?

I recently spoke to a dear mentor of mine whom I haven't met for years and the first question he asked was, "How is the sweet taste of success? Enjoying it?" That immediately brought a big smile to my face. It was a simple yet deep question. 

My mentor guided me to breakthroughs in my performance that led me to my first Best Actor Award and my career has been growing incredibly well since then. Looking back, it has been indeed many years of success as an actor and a human being. I believe success is a journey rather than a destination.

From receiving accolades for my performances to witnessing the impact my work has had on audiences, those moments have been exhilarating and humbling. However, I also believe that success isn't solely defined by external recognition or material accomplishments. It's about personal growth, pushing boundaries, and staying true to my passion for acting. Every project I take on, every character I bring to life, is an opportunity for me to strive for that apex of success.

But let's not forget that success is also a multifaceted concept. It's not just about individual achievements; it's about the collective journey and the people who supported me along the way. I am incredibly grateful for the love and encouragement from my fans, the unwavering support of my family and friends, and the incredible team I work with. Their belief in me and their dedication to our shared vision has been instrumental in all successes I've experienced.

While I have encountered moments that could be considered as a glimpse of that apex of success, I continue to chase after new horizons and challenge myself to reach even greater heights. After all, the zenith is a destination that keeps evolving, and I'm thrilled to see where this exhilarating journey takes me next!

The ZENITH Pilot Big Date Flyback.