Zenith Watches' New DEFY Collection Points Towards the Future of Swiss Watchmaking | SENATUS



Zenith Watches' New DEFY Collection Points Towards the Future of Swiss Watchmaking

4 September 2018

Marrying its proud tradition of dynamic with avant-garde thinking, the Swiss manufacture is writing its future in a bold new direction.

Text by Kien Lee | Photos by GreenPlasticSoldier

Founded in the city of Le Locle in Switzerland by watchmaker Georges Favre-Jacot in 1865, Zenith has had a impressive history, winning 2,333 chronometry prizes in its 153 year history, a testament to its excellence in creating precise chronometers. It is a record that is second to none in the business.

Clearly not content with resting on its laurels, Zenith went on to gain further success with its 1969 El Primero calibre, the first ever fully integrated automatic column-wheel chronograph movement, superlative with its ability to execute short-time measurements accurate to the nearest 1/10th of a second. Since this remarkable and industry-defining innovation, the Swiss Manufacture has continued to develop over 600 movement variations.

In fact, the unsurpassed precision of the El Primero lasted almost 50 years before Zenith itself broke this stranglehold, unveiling the DEFY El Primero 21 in 2017, which is capable of achieving 1/100th of a second accuracy - that’s 1000% more precise than previously possible. With that, the legend is reborn, reincarnated within the new DEFY collection. With that, a new line in the sand is drawn.

Much like the star in its logo, Zenith points the way in the night sky, a shining 21st century symbol of what lies ahead in the new future of Swiss watchmaking.

The DEFY collection is the embodiment of this dynamic and avant-garde thinking, and the three product lines (below) encapsulate the three key qualities of the brand: excellence, precision, and innovation.

DEFY El Primero 21

The Zenith DEFY EL PRIMERO 21 is without a doubt, a quantum leap in both performance and mechanical design, besting its predecessor with a newly-upgraded movement that now boasts a frequency of 360,000 A/H (50 Hz).

Presented on an exquisitely-designed openworked dial in a 44 m case, the inner bezel bears a scale graduated from 1 to 100, through which the lightning speed of the star-tipped second hand making one complete revolution in one second, is truly a sight to behold.

Available within the line is a jet-black ceramic option, the DEFY El Primero 21 Black Ceramic. Sleek ruthenium-plated hour-markers and large luminescent baton-type hands complete the stunning stealth-inspired display.

The chronograph’s 50-hour power reserve indication is situated at 12 o'clock, hours and minutes in the centre, small seconds at 9 o'clock, along with a black 60-second counter at 6 o'clock and distinctive blue 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock.

Water resistant to 100 metres, the DEFY El Primero 21 Black Ceramic is available with a black rubber strap with a matching black DLC-coated titanium double folding clasp, or a black ceramic bracelet.

The Zenith DEFY El Primero 21 is a finalist in the Chronograph category in the 2018 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve awards.

DEFY Classic - Openworked Dial & Closed Dial

Designed with the stylish in mind, the DEFY Classic represents a gateway to the collection, with its 41 mm ultra-light titanium case.

Two variations of the Classic exist, the first is a star-themed openworked dial, revealing the automatic Elite 670 base calibre inside. Blackened, structured and topped by a cut-out date disc read off on a white dot at 6 o’clock, the movement oscillates at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 50 hours. The deep-blue minutes ring is in the exact same shade as that of the 1969 El Primero.

The second is a closed dial version, for those who seeking a more understated look.

Fitted with an integrated metal bracelet composed of supple links, a strap version featuring rubber coated with alligator leather or an all-rubber option, the line is at home in any situation an active contemporary lifestyle may bring.


The centerpiece of DEFY Zero G is its revolutionary self-regulating gravity control device, situated at 6 o’clock position. Employing a gyroscopic module, this patented “gravity control” approach is Zenith’s novel approach to negate the effects of gravity on the running rate of the watch, by maintaining the regulating organ and the balance wheel in a horizontal position.

A nod to marine chronometers of an age gone by, the updated spherical system now fits neatly between two flat sapphire crystals in the 44 mm case (a previous iteration required convex crystals to house it), and comprises of 139 tiny components itself, contributing to a total of 324 in the manual-winding El Primero 8812S calibre.

Oscillating at 5 Hz and self-regulated by the modernised “gravity control” module, this in-house movement is a successor to the 1969 El Primero, and offers over 50-hour power reserve.

The display is a visual treat to say the least. The entirely-skeletonised and black rhodium-treated movement sits in the middle of five branches reminiscent of the Zenith star symbol. Hours and minutes appear on a blue-tinted ring featuring luminescent faceted-hour-markers and baton-type hands. Symmetrically arranged, the openworked small seconds subdial appears between 9 and 10 o’clock, whilst the power-reserve counter is between 2 and 3 o’clock.

Together, the elements accentuate the timepiece’s unique three-dimensional architecture.

Available in pink gold or titanium, the DEFY Zero G comes with a new integrated bracelet in the same metal with brushed and polished H-shaped links, or a rubber strap coated with alligator leather.

The Zenith DEFY Zero G is a finalist in the Chronometry category in the 2018 Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Geneve awards.

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