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Zenith reinforces its Defy to create Defy Extreme, a new three-model collection that boasts an arsenal of components aimed at protecting the watch’s unusual dual-escapement El Primero 9004 movement from shock and moisture.

The new Defy Extreme extends the ongoing theme of the Defy El Primero 21 collection, a series of skeletonized, often colorful, high-speed (36,000 vph) timekeepers paired with an extra-fast (360,000 vph) chronographs, cased together in highly technical ceramic, titanium, carbon or steel dress.

Three Zenith Defy Extreme models are available. All are cased in sandblasted titanium with blue, black or rose-gold colored plates and matching accents.

With the new collection, Zenith has a true high-impact sport option for Defy fans wary that the existing Defy 21’s two escapements and its contemporary open work design leaves it vulnerable to physical stress and extreme elements.

Essentially, Zenith has toughened Defy’s specifications, starting with the case.

Defy Extreme’s 46mm case size is larger than the 44mm case Zenith uses within the existing Defy El Primero 21 collection. Zenith has reinforced the new case by adding extended pusher protection and a screw-down crown that, when combined with a thicker clear sapphire caseback, doubles the water resistance from the existing Defy rating of 100 meters to 200 meters for the new collection.

The new case is also rife with new angles, edges and lines. Even between the two crystals you’ll find elements that, as Zenith puts it, exude “robustness.”

Most notably, Zenith has a placed a twelve-sided ring just underneath the bezel and on the twelve-sided caseback.  The architectural ring nicely frames the dial while also adding another layer of shock protection to the movement. It serves to remind the wearer that Zenith has built an extra level of security into the Defy Extreme.

Three models

Zenith is making three Defy Extreme models, all cased in micro-blasted titanium. Two matte-finished titanium models (both $18,000) differ with a blue or black-colored mainplate and pusher protectors with matching rotor finishes, while the third model ($22,000) glows with rose gold bezel ring and pusher protectors on the titanium case and rose-gold-hued main plate and accents.

Zenith is supplying each watch with three different straps with quick strap-change mechanisms: A micro-blasted or polished and satin-brushed titanium bracelet, a rubber strap with a folding buckle matching the case and, in a first for Zenith, a Velcro strap that can be easily adjusted.

The El Primero 9004 movement inside the Defy Extreme is equipped with two regulating organs and escapements, one beating at 5Hz for timekeeping, and the other at 50Hz for the chronograph .

 

iW spoke with Zenith CEO Julien Tornare during LVMH Watch Week 2021 in January. He detailed how Zenith developed the hot new Chronomaster Sport and why the watch is an especially important launch as Zenith continues expanding its appeal globally in 2021 and beyond.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Sport.

IW: How important is the Chronomaster collection to the Zenith identity?

Julien Tornare: It is clear that Chronomaster is a key product collection for us. You may remember that in 2017 we launched the new Defy, and not everybody was pleased that we were emphasizing that Defy collection. At the time I had issues with the Chronomaster collection because it was going in too many directions at once. This made some people confused. It had a variety of size, shape, colors, and it was too much of a patchwork.

But Defy was selling well; we have been fortunate. Defy was giving the brand fresh air, exactly what we – with Mr. Biver – wanted at that time. And it gave me time to sit back with my friend Romain Marietta (products development, heritage director at Zenith) and think about the key design elements for Zenith, specifically for Chronomaster. We started to show some new designs in 2019 with the 50th anniversary celebration of the El Primero.

Of course we were scheduled to launch the new Chronomaster Sport this past June. Plus, we were to launch a new classic version later during 2020. So now we are on a slightly delayed schedule.

Are you pleased with the reaction to the new Chronomaster Sport?

We knew that we would bring back an iconic watch with the Chronomaster, which many people were waiting for.  We expected a good reaction, but put the reaction since it was launched has been incredible. We did not expect the enthusiasm to such a great extent.  I am very happy and proud and I congratulate our entire team.

The morning after we launched the new Chronomaster Sport I had messages from all over the world. I had so many retailers I have known call and say they needed this new Chronomaster.

Does the Chronomaster Sport complete the collection?

Now it is very clear what Chronomaster is.  We have the Revival, we have the Chronomaster Sport, and coming up next we’ll have the Classic side. This repositions Chronomaster very clearly for us. Chronomaster for me is the past and present.  And Defy is the present and the future. So they are connected and complementary.

How did you approach development of the Chronomaster Sport?

We looked at three pieces in 2018 to help us design the new Chrono master sport.

The Zenith A277 was made in 1965, four years before El Primero. But you can already see this sporty influence on the new watch, especially with the sporty bezel and a bracelet. Then, a few years after that, we launched the Luka. This was also a big deal for us. Here you see it again the black bezel, the sporty chronograph look, and the same basic bracelet.

And finally, we looked at the Rainbow, which was also very important for us in the 1980s in the 1990s. That case, and again with the sporty bezel, were influential.

Three historic Zenith watches informed the new design.

All three of these watches help us create the new Chronomaster Sport.

Of course we added the Zenith three-color chronograph counters.  We worked on those colors to have them elegant and more beautiful­ – not too flashy.  The blue and the grays are quite light and very slightly shiny.  The watch is 41mm in diameter and 13.6mm thick, so still elegant and not too thick. Easy to wear.

The new El Primero 3600 caliber offers a 1/10th of second display from the 5 Hz (36’000 VpH) escapement, as well as an extended power reserve of 60 hours.

And you used a new movement inside?

Of course, we worked on the movement, which is the El Primero 3600.  The upgrades from the earlier El Primero include the column wheel in blue, which makes it clearly visible.  We added ten hours to the power reserve to reach a total of sixty hours of power reserve.

And for me a real chronograph should be one-tenth of a second, like the El Primero. When you get 36,000 vph, which is 5 Hz, you can measure one-tenth of a second exactly.  With 3 Hz and 4 Hz you measure the one-sixth or the one-eighth of a second, which is not really how we measure any event. And here we really wanted to show off our ability to measure one-tenth of a second.

Zenith can now showcase three different watches with chronograph hands rotating around their dials at three different rotation speeds.

What were the biggest challenges to making the new Chronomaster Sport?

We wanted to keep the identity of our caliber very clear.  I also told Romain that I want it to be most comfortable watch available in the industry.

I still believe that is very important to put any watch on your wrist to see how it feels. I am too often disappointed by the way certain watches feel on your wrist. This new watch is smooth as silk.  It is super easy to wear.

I wanted a very simple way to measure the one-tenth of a second. And with one of the very first samples, like took it home and gave it to my ten-year-old son.  And he looked at it and he could explain how it worked. I wanted this watch to be that easy to read.  On many watches it is easy to get lost, especially if you’re not familiar with watches.

Of course, here we have a counter for the seconds, a counter for the minutes, and the one at 9 o’clock for the small seconds.

Can you tell us more about other 2021 Zenith debuts?

The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385.

Our new brown-dialed A 385 Revival watch is also quite interesting. We have done some research, and it seems that this original watch in 1969 is the first gradient type dial. When we launched the A384 Revival in August 2019 it became immediately a bestseller, in part because of its original 37mm size. 

You might remember that ten or twelve years earlier we had lunched this in a larger size (42mm) which I thought lost the proportions of that original. At 37mm you get perfect proportions.

The new Zenith Pilot Type 20 Silver Chronograph.

Will we see additional sports watches from Zenith?

Yes of course. Overall, we have a Revival, the soon-to-be released Classic, and then the Sport. This is a very clear organization within the Chronomaster collection. There’ll be additional sport variations.

How did you choose the newest Zenith ambassador Aaron Rodgers?

In 2019 I went to the United States several times to meet various possible ambassadors. I was in search of someone who could represent the philosophy of ‘time to reach your stars’ for the Zenith. And I didn’t want a celebrity who would just show up on the red carpet with the watch.  I wanted someone who could talk about his or her story and who could explain what kind of a star he or she has been following over the years to reach an objective. We have done this in China and Japan, and in Europe.

It’s more about the personality. I met actors and singers and other sports celebrities, but when I met Aaron Rodgers I thought he was just a great guy. He’s a good spirit. Nothing to prove anymore.

NFL great Aaron Rodgers is the new Zenith brand ambassador for the U.S.

Can you preview any additional watches for 2021 from Zenith?

We will have the third category of the Chronomaster collection.  This will be about elegance, thinness and an A386 spirit, because Chronomaster would not be complete without that particular offering as well. Also look for a new Defy. That will be an amazing watch also. For the United States that will be a big one. 

And of course we do not forget high complications within the Defy collection. This year we will present some of our iconic high complications – and in a crazy material. This will be in a very small edition and it will include an experience that I can almost guarantee none of the future owners have done in their lives.  It will allow him to really feel what a high complication is in real life.

The new Zenith Defy Urban Jungle.

Will we see new watches for women?

I don’t like to talk about women’s watches particularly at Zenith because we focus on making beautiful, authentic watches with our own movements with our own philosophy, and then make them beautiful. 

We don’t really separate them as men’s watches or women’s watches.  I think we make beautiful watches that can be worn by men and by women. Diamonds are used sometimes yes, and in some parts of the world diamonds are very popular among men, and in some others less. If you look at the Chronomaster Sport, it is a typical 41mm watch that can be worn buy a man or woman.

At Zenith we like to live in a balanced way between the past, present and the future.  Between tradition and innovation. And it is clear that we are gaining market share in terms of vintage.  You just need to follow the recent auctions.  We have launched the Zenith Icons program to great success. Chronomaster Sport is bringing a contemporary dynamic into the collection. This will live perfectly alongside the vintage, or Revival, collection, as well as the more classic directions that you will soon discover.

 

As its first 2021 debut, Zenith launches Chronomaster Sport, an evolution of the bedrock Chronomaster, the Le Locle watchmaker’s most direct link to its historic El Primero automatic chronograph, which debuted in 1969.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Sport.

Already sporty in its historical guise, the new 41mm steel Zenith Chronomaster Sport more directly –and boldly – displays its split-second timing abilities with the added utility of a wide black ceramic bezel etched with 1/10-of-a-second measurement marks.

The new bezel enhances the visibility of the timing function, linked to the El Primero’s 36,000 vph frequency, beyond even the clean black ceramic bezels found on the existing Zenith Chronomaster 2 limited edition references. As far as we’re aware, the new Chronomaster Sport is the only production sport watch that offers a 1/10-of-a-second timing scale linked to its central chronograph hand. When activated, the hand rotates once around the dial in ten seconds.

 

To underscore the robust nature of the new Chronomaster Sport, Zenith here uses the El Primero 3600, the movement Zenith debuted in that earlier Chronomaster 2. The caliber, with a newly blued column wheel and “new architecture,” is more efficient than earlier El Primeros, according to Zenith, and offers a higher power reserve, now rated to sixty hours. Zenith has affixed a new skeletonized rotor to the movement, visible through a clear sapphire caseback.

The new El Primero 3600 caliber offers a 1/10th of second display from the 5 Hz (36,000 VpH) escapement, as well as an extended power reserve of 60 hours.

The new dial

In addition to adding a wide ceramic bezel with 1/10-of-a-second scale to the front side of the new Chronomaster Sport, Zenith has also enhanced the collection’s dial and bracelet to differentiate it from previous Chronomaster offerings.

Both dial options, matte white and black, appear to contrast more starkly with the three subdials. The steel case, with familiar pump-style pushers, now links to an integrated steel bracelet similar to those conceived by Gay Frères, which has historically supplied many of Zenith’s metal bracelets. Zenith also offers a sharp-looking blue or black rubber strap option with a steel deployant buckle.

As noted, Zenith is offering the Chronomaster Sport with either a white dial or black dial in two references.  Whether the black or matte white dial, both with signature El Primero tri-color chronograph registers are blue, anthracite and light grey, each graduated to sixty.

Price: $10,000 (steel bracelet) and $9,500 (strap)

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Sport

Movement: Zenith El Primero 3600 automatic, frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz), power-reserve of 60 hours.  Functions: Hours and minutes in the center. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, 1/10th of a second Chronograph. Central chronograph hand that makes one turn in 10 seconds, 60-minute counter at 6 o’clock, 60-second counter at 3 o’clock.

Case: 41 mm stainless steel with black ceramic bezel, water-resistance to 100 meters.

Dial: White or black matte dial with three different applied colored counters, hour-markers and hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLumiNova

Bracelet: Steel, blue or black rubber bracelet. Double folding clasp with security mechanism. 

Price: $10,000 (steel bracelet) and $9,500 (strap)

 

Zenith reaches back to 1969 once again with its latest Revival debut, the Chronomaster Revival A385, a near-exact 37mm reproduction of the original El Primero chronograph from 1969.

The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385.

As one of very first automatic chronographs, and the very first operating at a high frequency of 36,000 vph, Zenith’s A385 debuted alongside the Zenith A384 and A386. The A385 was notable for its smoked brown gradient pattern, which Zenith revives on this new release.

To accurately echo the original, Zenith says it conducted a “reverse engineering” of the 1969 watch to create the new model. As a result, each part of the A385’s 37mm tonneau-shaped stainless-steel case (even its pump-style pushers) mimics the original. The only differences here are the domed sapphire crystal, which replaces an acrylic version, and a clear sapphire back that replaces instead the original’s closed solid steel caseback.

Marketing materials for the 1969-1970 Zenith El Primeo launches.

The clear back offers a view of the newer El Primero caliber, Zenith’s 400 chronograph movement with column-wheel, that powers the watch.

Smoking Dial

But it’s the dial here that draws eyes, and Zenith has nailed the attractive brown gradient dial, which notably features a vignette effect that blackens towards the edges. This colorful slight of hand appears to deepen the dial, mimicking the light-bending effect of a domed crystal, but without the dome.

To further deepen the nostalgia, Zenith adds the same red chronograph central second hand and silvery-white chronograph counters found on the original model.

Zenith offers the Chronomaster Revival A385 in two options. One is equipped with a steel “ladder” bracelet, a modern remake of the Gay Frères bracelets Zenith utilized on those original models. The second option is a light brown calf leather strap that will develop a patina over time.The Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385 is available at Zenith Boutiques and online shop, as well as at authorized retailers. 

Price: $7,900 (leather strap) and 8,400 CHF (approximately $9,500) for steel bracelet model.

 

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival A385

Reference: 03.A384.400/385.M385 (steel bracelet), Reference: 03.A384.400/385.C855 (calf leather strap)

Case: 37mm steel with sapphire back, 50 meters water resistance.

Movement: El Primero 400 automatic column-wheel chronograph with 36,000 Vph (5 Hz), power-reserve of 50 hours.

Functions: Hours and minutes in the center, small seconds at 9 o’clock. Chronograph: Central chronograph hand, 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock. Tachometric scale. Date indication at 4:30.

Dial: Smoked brown gradient dial with white-colored counters. Rhodium-plated, faceted hour markers and hands, coated with beige Super-LumiNova.

Bracelet: “Ladder” bracelet with stainless steel double folding clasp, or light brown calf leather strap with protective rubber lining and a stainless-steel pin buckle.

Price: $7,900 (leather strap) and 8,400 CHF (approximately $9,500) for steel bracelet model.

 

Zenith continues to place its Defy collection on the cutting edge of high-end, serially produced horology with the addition of the Defy Classic Carbon, which finds the automatic Zenith Defy Classic cased in solid carbon fiber and connected to the wrist with a fully integrated carbon fiber bracelet.

The new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon.

The carbon fiber packaging means that the new model weighs a wispy sixty-five grams, about half the weight of an equivalent 41mm Defy Classic with a titanium case and bracelet. Like other Defy Classic models, Zenith fits the watch with its Elite skeletonized movement with a silicon escape wheel and lever.

While carbon fiber is not unheard of today as a case material in high-end watchmaking, the addition of a carbon fiber bracelet is rare and seen only on pricey, extremely limited editions such as Bulgari minute repeater or a Richard Mille offering.

Zenith explains that the new bracelet required new expertise at cutting, molding and milling the carbon fiber so that it highlights its layers, known technically as strata. The Le Locle watchmaker is touting this knowledge as another aspect of its ability to create serially produced watches infused with new materials (at least within watchmaking) and avant-garde techniques.  

Unexpected

The lightness and the marbled, layered look of a carbon fiber bracelet looks unusual and feels unexpectedly light on the wrist, especially when it clasps a highly complicated automatic watch. While I haven’t worn the new Zenith Defy Classic Carbon, my experience briefly wearing Bulgari Octo Finissimo Minute Repeater Carbon in 2018 was educational in this regard.   

The material is warmer and almost friction-free on the skin, quite unlike the sensation when wearing a steel watch or a gold watch. As an added bonus, the layering of the carbon fiber within such construction results in a different visible pattern every time. As a result, each Zenith Defy Classic Carbon will exhibit a unique appearance.

Zenith has created an all-carbon bracelet with carbon clasp for the new watch.

Zenith also offers a black rubber strap with a carbon and titanium folding buckle for those who prefer a more familiar attachment to their watch. While the price difference between the rubber strap and the carbon fiber strap is high, only one model will suffice for those in search of the truly unusual, and potentially ground-breaking, with their haute horology.

The Zenith Defy Classic Carbon with carbon bracelet is price at $19,500. The model with the black rubber strap is priced at $11,600.

 

Specifications: Zenith Defy Classic Carbon

References: 10.9001.670/80.M9001 (carbon bracelet) and 10.9000.670/80.R795 (rubber bracelet)

Movement: Zenith Elite 670 SK, automatic, 28,800 VpH, 48-hour power reserve, special oscillating weight with satin-brushed finish.

Case: 41mm carbon with sapphire caseback, water resistant to 100 meters, 65-gram total weight (watch with carbon bracelet).

Dial and functions: Openworked with hours and minutes in the center, central seconds hand, date at 6 o’clock, hour-markers and hands ruthenium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova SLN C3.

Bracelet: Full carbon. Also available on rubber bracelet, with carbon folding buckle.

Zenith again taps into its past as it today debuts a special Chronomaster Revival watch, which the Le Locle manufacturer is releasing as a special North American edition.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Liberty.

The new Zenith Chronomaster Revival Liberty, a red, white and blue limited edition of 150 pieces, echoes earlier Zenith Revival pieces with a design firmly rooted in the brand’s 1969 El Primero A384 automatic chronograph tonneau-cased debuts. As a reminder, it was in 1969 that Zenith debuted its El Primero caliber, the world’s first high-frequency automatic chronograph movement.

Domed sapphire

The latest edition, like recent Zenith Chronomaster Revival models, retains the 37mm case size of the original models and features Zenith’s modern El Primero 400 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve. Also echoing the vintage look are the tachymeter scale and the original chronograph hand design called “Barley Sugar Cane.”

Zenith says it consulted original blueprints and production plans from five decades ago to recreate the case. In this new version Zenith caps the dial with a newly domed sapphire crystal and adds a modern clear sapphire caseback. Also new is the model’s blue rubberized cordura strap, complete with a single red stitch on each side.

Zenith creates the model’s Liberty theme with a matte blue gradient dial paired with white chronograph counters. In greater detail, Zenith has painted red and white stripes on the central chronograph second hand. Furthermore, Zenith colors the numerals on the white date wheel in red.

Zenith if offering the new Chronomaster Revival Liberty as a limited edition of 150 pieces exclusively in the United States and Canada and on Zenith’s American online boutique. Price: $8,700

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival “Liberty”

(Reference: 03.US384.400/57.C823, Limited Edition for North America.)

Movement: Automatic El Primero 400 column-wheel chronograph, frequency of 36,000 VpH (5 Hz), 50-hour power reserve. 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, date indication.

Case: 37mm stainless steel, water resistant to 50 meters.

Dial: Blue gradient with white counters and tachymeter scale
, markers and hands are rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super
Luminova.

Bracelet: Blue cordura-style strap and red stitching, stainless steel pin buckle.

Price: $8,700

Zenith re-interprets its Defy 21 and Defy Classic contemporary skeletonized collections with stylish black and white simplicity on two new boutique editions. Each Defy model is paired with a white ceramic bezel, a matte black ceramic cases and a white rubberized strap.

Zenith Defy 21 Black & White

The basic non-color motif defies (see what I did there) Zenith’s attention to vibrant hues seen on earlier Defy Classic and Defy 21 models, which the watchmaker has bathed previously in blue, orange and even violet dress.

Zenith Defy Classic Black & White

Zenith has nicely utilized the Defy’s architecture to enhance its yin and yang, dark and light theme for these new editions. The red synthetic rubies and blue silicon escape wheel, seen within the skeletonized movement of each watch, are the only hints of color visible on either new model.

The only hints of color on either new model are the red synthetic rubies and blue silicon escape wheel.

The Defy 21, for example, emphasizes the eye-catching 1/100-of-a-second scale and its 30-minute chronograph counter by making them white, contrasting strongly with the black, skeletonized movement. The white ceramic bezel carries the theme to completion. 

On the Defy Classic, Zenith emphasizes the blackened star motif by framing it with a white flange ring and a white ceramic bezel. Zenith’s black and white cordura-effect rubber strap completes the achromatic scheme.

Both watches feature a matte micro-blasted black ceramic case (44mm for the Defy 21 and 41mm for the Defy Classic). Both editions of the Defy Black & White also come with a second strap in textured black rubber.

Zenith is offering the Defy 21 Black & White and Defy Classic Black & White at Zenith Boutiques and online at its own e-shop. Prices: $13,600 (Defy 21) and  $8,200 (Defy Classic)

 

Specifications:

Zenith Defy 21 Black & White

Reference: 49.9007.9004/11.R923

Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic, 1/100th of a second chronograph movement. Dynamic signature of one rotation per second. One escapement for the watch time (36,000 VpH) and one escapement for the chronograph (360,000 VpH – 50 Hz). TIME LAB Chronometer certified. Power reserve 50 hours.

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 black matte ceramic with white ceramic bezel, water resistant to 100 meters

Dial: Openworked with two different-colored counters, hands and markers rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminovaSLN C1

Bracelet & Buckle: Black rubber with white “cordura effect” rubber. Titanium double folding clasp with Black DLC coating.

Price $13,600

 

Zenith Defy Classic Black & White

Reference: 49.9005.670/11.R943

Case: 41mm Black Ceramic with silicon, white ceramic bezel, 100 meters water resistance  

Movement Elite 670 SK, Automatic with silicon escape wheel and lever, frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz), power-reserve of 48 hours, hours and minutes in the center with central seconds hand. Date indication at 6 o’clock

Dial: Black open-worked, rhodium-plated, faceted hour markers coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1

Bracelet & Buckle: Black rubber with white “cordura effect” rubber. Titanium double folding clasp with Black DLC coating.

Price: $8,200

 

 

 

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.

As Zenith prepared for last year’s fiftieth anniversary celebration of El Primero, its premier automatic chronograph, the Le Locle watchmaker sifted again through the cache of tools and prototypes slated for destruction in 1975, but preserved at the time by the forward-thinking Charles Vermot.

There, amid piles of boxes, Zenith found another version of its now well-known Chronomaster tri-color dial. But instead of the grey, black and blue subdials, the discovered prototype featured three different shades of blue.

And while Zenith says it has no records of these blue tri-color dials, the watchmaker has determined that they were part of the original prototype dials for the El Primero A386 in 1969 featuring a 38mm steel case.

New and Blue

This past week Zenith debuted the Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition, a production model Chronomaster cased in the El Primero A386 steel case and using the all-blue-subdial design on its dial. Of course, inside Zenith is placing its El Primero high-frequency automatic chronograph with column wheel.

Echoing earlier Revival models, Zenith is reproducing the recently discovered dial within the 38mm case (with pump-style pushers) paying close attention to the blueprints of the original. These Revival models will be cased in steel rather than in gold however, making them more affordable than the A386 Revival editions from 2019. 

Zenith adds that this release will be the final Revival model to feature the A386 case style and size.

The watchmaker will make the new Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition available for six months only on its pending e-commerce site (slated to open June 30) and then only at its Le Locle manufacturing facility after it reopens to the public for visits.

Zenith is producing special packaging for the watch. It will look like a book, and on its cover you’ll see a blueprint of the Zenith manufacture. Inside, Zenith adds a comic book about Charles Vermot. Price: $8,700

Specifications: Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition

(Reference: 03.Z386.400/60.C843)

Movement: Zenith El Primero 400 Automatic, 36,000 vph frequency, 50-hour power reserve.

Dial: White-lacquered dial with three shades of blue counters. 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. Date indication at 4:30. Rhodium-plated hour markers, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova. Hands are white, faceted and coated with Super Luminova.

Case: 38mm steel

Bracelet & buckle: Blue alligator leather strap with protective rubber lining. Stainless steel pin buckle.