The original Zenith Defy (spelled Defi in 1902) began with the premise of rugged aka sportive pocket watches that could accompany their wearers throughout whatever life threw at them. The spirit of boldness was kept alive when in 1969, Zenith’s line of Defy wristwatches dawned a new era for the manufacture with a resolutely modern aesthetic that matched its robust architecture and precision timekeeping, earning it the nickname of coffre-fort, French for vault of safe.
Today, in this competitive field of the luxury integrated bracelet sports watch, the new Zenith Defy Skyline brings another geometrically structured integrated bracelet sports watch to the marketplace with a sleek and evocative design paired with an unprecedented function. The latest sub-collection within the contemporary Defy series, the new series of luxury sports watches debuts with three watches that introduce a new case design, a new movement, and the El Primero’s first non-chronograph, high frequency three hand timepiece.
The Zenith Defy family is home to some of the maison’s most experimental watches including a sapphire encased Double Tourbillon watch, it has mostly served as a platform for the brand’s perspective on geometric, multifaceted octagonal steel case watches with angular 14-sided fixed bezels. The twice revived revival oozing late 1960s swagger, side-steps comparison with an early 70s newcomer but nevertheless, given short memories and the sports luxury watch zeitgeist, it’s not completely unavoidable.
Revived once more in a limited run of 250 pieces last week, the Defy Revival A3642 takes almost all its design cues from the original factory drawings of the 1969 Defy, down to the smoky grey gradient dial. The Defy Skyline on the other hand, is an enlarged modern update (at 41mm vs 37mm) that distills much of the original vibe with one important twist – use of the brand’s most signature calibre, the El Primero.
Zenith Defy Skyline: Home to the first non-chronograph El Primero
Once you notice that this is the first Zenith El Primero that isn’t a chronograph, you’ll notice that the “sub seconds” dial sports 10 indication rather than 60, a reflection that the 36,000 vph high frequency chronograph will complete its rotation in 10 seconds thanks to constantly running 1/10th of a second hand makes steady jumps in fixed increments reminding the wearer of the fleeting nature of time and the precision of the 5Hz movement within. Hence, the new Zenith Defy Skyline makes real the foundational ethos of the pocket watch: robust precision.
Available in three metallic dial options in black, blue, and silver, the new Defy Skyline features a simplified case shape with a 12-sided bezel positioned to echo the hour markers. Delivered on a steel bracelet with a satin-brushed surface with chamfered and polished edges, seamlessly following the contours of the faceted case. A four-pointed star echoing the old star that used to decorate the solid case backs, is cut or stamped into the dials in a monogram pattern which fills the face of the timepiece save for the subsidiary seconds at 9 o’clock.
Powered by the new El Primero 3620, built with a similar architecture as the El Primero 3600 1/10th of a second chronograph, this automatic manufacture movement visible through the sapphire display back drives the 1/10th of a second hand directly from the escapement, which beats at 5Hz (36’000 VpH), thus making it a “natural” fraction-of-a-second indication. It is also endowed with a stop-second mechanism for precise time-setting. Efficient in its performance, the automatic winding mechanism with bi- directional rotor with a star motif delivers a power reserve of approximately 60 hours.
Zenith Defy Skyline Price & Specs
Case 41mm stainless steel with 100 metres power reserve
Movement Automatic El Primero 3620 with 60 hours power reserve
Price CHF 8400