In a few weeks Zenith will debut its latest watches alongside hundreds of other watchmakers at Baselworld. But for many fans who have seen or read about the company’s debuts this past January in Geneva, the storied Le Locle manufacturer has already shown us a broader-than-expected range of Defy and Pilot line extensions, especially given the January timing of the first round of debuts.
As a teaser to what still lies ahead in 2019, Zenith has just shown us a Baselworld debut preview, the Pilot Type 20 Special Silver, a 45mm diameter silver-cased version of its lauded Type 20 pilot watch. That new watch, priced at $7,700, is a limited edition release of 250 pieces, only underscores Zenith’s multipronged approach to the market, with Pilot (and Chronomaster) leading the charge in the heritage realm and Defy headlining the contemporary category.
Among its debuts in January, Zenith expanded its Defy Classic collection with the Defy Classic Ceramic Black, White and Blue, each with their namesake ceramic 41mm cases. As with all Defy Classic models, each is powered by Zenith’s own Elite 670 skeletonized movement with silicon escape wheel and lever. The three ceramic Defy Classics are each priced at $7,500.
But in addition to these colorful, high-tech Defy offerings you’ll find the effervescent Zenith Defy Classic Two-Tone, my favorite of all the January Zenith debuts. This beauty, with its very contemporary openwork dial, pairs a first-ever (for Zenith) rose gold bezel with the well-known Zenith almost-cushion-shaped brushed titanium case. This is Zenith’s first Defy Classic (41mm) in a two-tone package.
The dual-metal rose gold and titanium combination, not the most common match-up at fine watchmakers, suits this Zenith perfectly. The dial’s matte grey and black openwork pattern, a quite contemporary rendition of the Zenith star, amplifies the warmer rose gold bezel around it. The choice to use gold plate on the hands and markers intensifies the duality of the two-tone effect.
On my wrist, the watch wears smaller than expected, perhaps a sensory trick triggered by its lightweight titanium case and mostly titanium bracelet. You see the gold links in the bracelet, but their weight is minimal.
A second trick here is the Zenith Defy Classic Two-Tone’s comfortable retro feel and look, despite an angular, openwork matte dial. I commend Zenith for that clever slight of wrist, and I expect, and hope, to see two-tone designs within other Zenith Collections at some point soon. The Zenith Defy Classic Two-Tone is priced at $15,500.
Specifications: Zenith Defy Classic Two-Tone
Elite 670 SK, Automatic and skeletonized, with silicon escape wheel
Calibre: 11 ½``` (Diameter: 25.60mm)
Movement thickness: 3.88mm
Frequency: 28,800 VpH (4Hz)
Power-reserve: min. 48 hours
Finishing: Special oscillating weight with satin finishings
Hours and minutes in the center
Central seconds hand
Date indication at 6 o’clock
CASE, DIAL & HANDS
Diameter: New 41mm brushed titanium case with 18-karat rose gold bezel
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides
Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal
Material: Brushed titanium & 18-karat rose gold
Water-resistance: 100 meters
Hour-markers: Gold-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLumiNova SLN C1
Hands: Gold-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLumiNova SLN C1
STRAP & BUCKLE
Titanium & rose gold bracelet with folding buckle