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Zenith A384 variants from black to caramel

  1. Mick Tock

    Mick Tock Jun 21, 2015

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    Hi fellow Zenith collectors,

    A year ago I bought this Zenith El Primero ref. A384 with caramel colored registers and rehaut:

    [​IMG]

    @avantnoire showed "3 shades of tropical….”, three A384 with different shades of brown from dark to caramel. However, in my eyes the caramel color on my watch is too light and too evenly distributed to be a ”tropical” deterioration of a black on white dial. A quick research revealed further differences between the true caramel watches and all others. It seemed that only the two caramel watches I knew had a case back with a larger 14-sided polygon contrary to the usual back with 12 edges. Furthermore, the case numbers in the 517D*** range were significant for the caramel variants.

    I’m pretty sure that this watch initially came with two different dials, black and caramel, whether under one single or two distinct references. I would not go as far as Mr. Roessler who distinguishes four variants.

    In order to support my hypothesis, I gathered the relevant informations of all A384 crossing my way since then. Here is a summarizing table, sorted by case number:

    [​IMG]

    I tried to adjust the color balance of each photo by the white color of the dial. The color field is cropped from the inner part of a sub-dial. The green texts mark the starting points of the research, the red texts show exceptions contradicting my theory.

    Although 26 pieces still constitute a rather small sample, I see a strong relation between caramel color, 14-sided polygonal back, and 517D*** case numbers.

    For my further research I would like to get informations about other caramel colored watches, see original papers, and get the missing case numbers in the table revealed. And I invite you to further discuss my observations, of course.


    Cheers,


    Mick
     
  2. nicolas07

    nicolas07 Jun 21, 2015

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    Very interesting research!
    I don't have an A384 but I will read your results with attention :)
     
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  3. papaebetu

    papaebetu Jun 23, 2015

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    Here, if you interested...
    905Dxxx

    GIGI
     
    image.jpg
    Edited Jun 23, 2015
  4. Bienne2998

    Bienne2998 Jun 23, 2015

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    Hi Mick
    I have one too... it also seems evenly faded.
    Top.jpg
     
  5. stef2010

    stef2010 Prolific Speedmaster Hoarder Jun 23, 2015

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    fantastic watch ! just missed one few weeks ago ... patience ; )
     
  6. Mick Tock

    Mick Tock Jun 23, 2015

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    Gentlemen,

    Thanks for the face pictures.

    For the research I would like to know the type of the case back (12 vs. 14 sided polygon) and the case number. You may PM me the details.

    Thanks in advance,


    Mick


    [​IMG]
     
  7. papaebetu

    papaebetu Jun 24, 2015

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    12 here
    GIGI
     
    IMG_2418.jpg
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  8. sneer

    sneer Jul 19, 2015

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    my 904d

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. Mick Tock

    Mick Tock Jul 19, 2015

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    Thanks.

    May I assume that the case back shows a polygon with 12 sides?

    Mick
     
  10. Fer Seamaster

    Fer Seamaster Jul 21, 2015

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    The one you saw at Auktionen Dr. Crott is mine!!!

    Here you have better pictures of that one:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Marcob11

    Marcob11 Oct 1, 2016

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    First of all I would like to apologize for my written English... English is not my language as I'm Italian...
    I don't agree with your theory, I don't know of any brands that at the time in which the first "panda dials" appeared in the market produced the variation "tropical"...
    I copy and paste from this page that says alot of the history of "Panda dials"

    https://thespringbar.com/blogs/guides/collectors-guide-to-breitling-top-time

    From the page I extrapolated the part interesting for our topic

    "The term “panda” refers to watches having a silver main dial and black sub dials. This color combination and the placement of the sub dials create a look that recalls that of a panda, and is the most likely the reason behind its name. A variant of the panda dial called “reverse panda” features a black main dial and white sub dials. Another variation is known as the “Panda bear” or “true panda”, with a white main dial and black sub dials [22,25].

    Among the three, the reverse panda appears to have come first, followed by the panda bear or true panda and then the panda. It is believed that Breitling was the first to introduce the reverse panda style in 1957 with its SuperOcean Chronograph Ref. 807. This was followed by its AVI Co-Pilot Ref. 765 which entered the market in the early 1960s. TAG Heuer and Rolex followed suit, with the former releasing its Autavia in 1962 and the latter launching its Cosmograph in 1963. During the same year, Breitling’s popular Navitimer Ref. 806 embraced the reverse panda design as well [22].

    However, when it came to the true pandas, Rolex took the lead, releasing its Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6239 in 1963. Breitling’s true panda hit the market in 1966, the TAG Heuer Carrera launched in 1968, and the Zenith El Primero A384 released in 1969. Zenith also released the first tri-color panda Ref. A386 in the same year [22].

    For its Top Time series, in particular, Breitling produced reverse pandas when the line released in 1964. True pandas were only introduced in 1966 [22]."

    Told this I now want to show mine that is a reference A783 in which the mutation happened in only two of the three sub dials...
    Are you still convinced that they were produced also with this combination of colours....?
     
    IMG_7434.JPG
  12. LouS

    LouS Mrs Nataf's Other Son Staff Member Oct 1, 2016

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    Marco,

    No one was ever convinced they were produced like that. That is dial degradation - "tropical" if you prefer.

    I will also state that I believe the gradual fade of the black pigment is a different degradation process from what happens to blue pigment of that era, which is found either in the original blue or bronze - very rarely (I've learned never to say "never," although I personally have never seen it) in some intermediate shade.
     
    Edited Oct 1, 2016
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  13. jfwoodman

    jfwoodman Oct 4, 2016

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    Interesting theory and research, and the nice examples shared are sure a treat to see.
     
  14. Mick Tock

    Mick Tock Dec 18, 2016

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    According to Zenith's last verdict the ref. A384 variant with caramel registers and rehaut is not a separate execution but shows a faulty degradation of the black on white dial of this model. However, only the dials of one production batch have this defect which significantly differs from the normal tropical effect on the black sub dials. This is supported by my observation of a strong correlation between caramel dial, case number, and polygonal back with 14 sides (vs. 12 sides generally).

    Cheers,

    Mick


    [​IMG]
     
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  15. wouter van wijk

    wouter van wijk Jun 27, 2020

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  16. ANALOGUE

    ANALOGUE Jun 27, 2020

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    Yeah nuts!
    Sure its super nice (despite some black spots on one sub dial) but still that price blows my mind. I paid like 10% of that for mine like 2 years ago (obviously not as good condition but still attractive imo...) Even though I have though these were undervalued that is insane


    Actually I realise I have not posted mine here... Screenshot_20191228_064705.jpg IMG_20200310_134450.jpg IMG_20200416_074607.jpg
     
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  17. jfwoodman

    jfwoodman Jun 28, 2020

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  18. killer67

    killer67 Jun 28, 2020

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    Good day for el primero A3817 also did well
     
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  19. RichardC

    RichardC Jul 1, 2020

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    I too noticed those Zenith results, being that they were 4 or 5 times available market rate I wouldn’t rule out Zenith being the recipient, because I cannot think of another plausible explanation. Several tropical A384 sit on Chrono24 and remain unsold, and normal market rate (to secure a reasonably swift sale) for that one is probably £7k+ ish. Whilst buying from auction can make certain buyers pay a premium the premium seen makes zero sense, but I bet the seller is happy and unconcerned either way Reminds me of a period when there were some similar unexplainable results on Heuer Rindts, Orvis Mareographes etc etc back in 2015/2016...
     
  20. asrnj77

    asrnj77 Jul 1, 2020

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    Sure but even if Zenith was the recipient they were competing against others in the bidding process. Somebody kept going against them if that were the case.