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After Zenith successfully launched its website and e-commerce platform in Europe in May, the Le Locle watchmaker this week unwraps its online sales platform for the United States.

To start its online sales with a bang, Zenith creates a special limited edition (of 250) U.S. edition of its black ceramic Defy 21 El Primero. In addition to the dark 44mm ceramic case, the watch’s U.S. edition features new color visible through its open dial. The new model exposes the 1/100th-of-a-second El Primero chronograph movement with a special ‘electric blue’ color.

There’s more. Zenith is also including three matching straps with the watch. One strap is black alligator with a rubber backing and blue stitching, the second is made of black rubber with a “cordura” effect and blue stitching and the third is textured blue rubber.

The Zenith Defy 21 El Primero Black Ceramic watch is priced at $13,600.

 

Specifications: DEFY EL PRIMERO 21 BOUTIQUE EDITION (Limited Edition of 250)

Reference: 49.9001.9004/78.R916

Movement: Zenith El Primero 9004 automatic, 1/100th of a second chronograph movement, one rotation per second, one escapement for the Watch (36,000 VpH) and one escapement for the Chronograph (360,000 VpH ), TIME LAB-Chronometer certified, black movement finish, power reserve min. 50 hours, Blue mainplate on movement plus blue oscillating weight with satin finish

Functions: 1/100th of a second chronograph functions, chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock, hours and minutes in center, small seconds at 9 o’clock, central chronograph hand that makes one turn each second,  30-minute counter at 3 o’clock,  60-second counter at 6 o’clock

Case: 44 mm by 14.5mm black ceramic, domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides, transparent sapphire crystal case back, water resistant to 100 meters.

Dial: Black open worked with two different-colored counters. Hour markers: Ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with black SuperLuminova, hands are ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with black SuperLuminova

STRAPS: Three included: Black Rubber Strap with “cordura” effect, black alligator with a rubber backing and blue stitching, and textured blue rubber

Fresh from releasing two Chronomaster Revival pieces in recent months, Zenith this week returns to its forward-focused Defy collection with the Defy 21 Ultraviolet, a 44mm dual-escapement chronograph with eye-catching purple bridges, rotor and strap.

For this model, the color will now vie for attention with the Defy 21’s mesmerizing one-rotation-per-second central chronograph hand.

When activated, sending the seconds hand spinning around the dial, the regally hued watch times events using Zenith’s 1/100th-of-a-second El Primero 21 chronograph caliber, beating at an ultra-high 50Hz (360,000 vph).

The watch of course continues to retain the time of day, thanks to its three-hand indicators, powered by the more traditional El Primero caliber, with the watch’s second escapement vibrating at 36,000 vph.

Zenith has colored the bridges violet on watch’s El Primero 9004 automatic movement.

Mostly open dial

As with most of the earlier Defy El Primero 21 models, the dial here is mostly open, clearing a direct view to many of the violet-colored, angular-cut bridges within. But unlike most of the earlier, heavily skeletonized designs, the new Defy 21 Ultraviolet’s solid chronograph subdials most directly recall the Defy 21 El Primero 21 Carl Cox released earlier this year.

Echoing that model’s specialized subdial designs, this new example features three grey chronograph registers and a grey flange ring. Other than the Carl Cox edition, the only similar example with solid chronograph registers was seen last year within the Defy 21 El Primero 50th Anniversary edition and was only available as part of a box set of three watches.

Sandblasted case

All the purple-treated bridges inside this Defy 21 Ultraviolet stand out particularly well against the matte sandblasted grey titanium case.

Equally compelling – at least to consumers who appreciate the novelty of a violet-tinted watch – is the woven textile-like purple insert of the watch’s accompanying black rubber strap.

I’ve always appreciated how difficult it can be for historically rich Swiss watch companies to embrace more modern  design, and with this newest watch Zenith presents an eye-catching, contemporary variation for its already impressive Defy 21 technology.  While the new Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is primarily an exercise in color and finishing, the choice of color here is not for the meek, and it makes the result particularly successful. Price: $13,100.

Specifications: Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet (Reference: 97.9001.9004/80.R922)

Key points: Unique violet 1/100th of a second chronograph movement with seconds hand rotation once per second. One escapement for the watch (36,000 Vph – 5 Hz) and one escapement for the chronograph (360,000 Vph – 50 Hz). Linear power reserve indicator. TIME LAB Chronometer certified.

Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic with ultraviolet finishings, with 50-hours of power reserve.

Functions: 1/100th of a second chronograph functions. Chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock. Hours and minutes in the center. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, Central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 60-second counter at 6 o’clock

Case: 44mm micro-blasted titanium with 100 meters water resistance,

Dial: Special open dial with grey closed chronograph registers, rhodium-plated, faceted markers coated with SuperLumiNova. Hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova

Bracelet: Violet fabric-effect strap with micro-blasted titanium double folding clasp

Price: $13,100.

Zenith unveils the Chronomaster Revival Shadow, another winning retro model designed as a result of Zenith’s deep dive into its own El Primero history.

The newest watch updates the look and feel of a black-cased El Primero watch Zenith made as a prototype in the early 1970s. Dubbed the Shadow, the update utilizes an original A384 case shape and 37mm size, the same case Zenith revisited for last year’s Chronomaster Revival El Primero A384.

Zenith has re-created the stealthy look using micro-blasted titanium rather than the darkened steel Zenith discovered on the early “Shadow” model.

Not surprisingly, unlike the prototype from 1970 powered by a manual-winding chronograph movement, the Chronomaster Revival Shadow features Zenith’s date-free El Primero (4061), visible through the display back.

As Zenith explains “only a handful of this spectral prototype was made, but the model was never officially produced or commercialized. Many watchmakers and longtime employees of Zenith had heard of and even seen one of the rare prototypes, even though official records about this piece are extremely scarce.”

The Le Locle-based watchmaker spent much of 2019 documenting its El Primero history as it celebrated the pioneering, high-beat chronograph movement’s fiftieth anniversary by issuing a series of celebratory watches, many of which were made to echo the case and dial designs of early Zenith watches fitted with the El Primero movements.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Shadow pairs grey subdials with a matching tachymeter scale, and both contrast nicely with matte black dial.  Perhaps to emphasize its stealthy name, the watch’s hands and applied markers are filled with white SuperLuminova that emits a green glow. The watch’s strap is textured black rubber with white stitching. Price: $8,200

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival ‘Shadow”

Reference: 97.T384.4061/21.C822

 

Movement: El Primero 4061 Automatic with column-wheel chronograph, 36,000 VpH frequency with 50-hour power reserve, visible from clear caseback.

Functions: Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at nine o’clock. Chronograph: central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at six o’clock, 30-minute counter at three o’clock. Tachymetric scale.

Case: 37-mm micro-blasted titanium using original A384 case shape, water resistant to 50 meters

Dial: Black dial with grey counters and tachymeter scale, hand and markers rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLumiNovaSLN C1

Bracelet & Buckle: Black “cordura effect” strap and white stitching. Microblasted titanium pin buckle.