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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.

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.

 

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.

Among the many watches for women we’ve seen released in the early weeks of 2020, here are a seven that would make a perfect Valentine’s Day gift. 

Zenith
Defy Midnight
As we’ve shown you in multiple posts since the event, the LVMH Watch Week in Dubai was a big one for women’s watch debuts, with both Zenith and Bulgari in particular focusing on feminine styles. Impressed as we are with Zenith’s reworked Elite Classic and Elite Moonphase models, those models will appeal to men and women. However, Zenith’s entirely new Defy Midnight is designed from scratch to be the Le Locle-based watchmaker’s collection for women. Its 36mm size and star-centric diamond dial convey Zenith’s ‘time to reach your star’ tag line with glittering aplomb while the trio of additional straps seals the deal. Prices start at $8,600 (without diamond bezel).  


   

Bulgari
Serpenti Seduttori (103361) Steel and Diamonds
While the Serpenti Seduttori Tourbillon highlights Bulgari’s 2020 offerings for ladies, the ongoing Serpenti Seduttori collection includes five new models, many of which mix diamonds and rose gold with steel. This 33mm steel and diamond watch features an opaline silver-toned dial and a very Valentine cabochon pink rubelite crown. These hexagonal bracelets lay particularly well on any wrist. Price: $6,850


 

 

 


Frederique Constant
Classics Art Déco Round
This Geneva-based watchmaker always offers an enviable collection of nicely priced watches for women, and its newest Classics Art Deco models nicely underscore that focus. Three of the five new 30mm models combine a guilloché sunray center with a mother-of-pearl outer dial within a first-ever (for this collection) round case. This steel-cased version pops with its guilloché center and blue mother-of-pearl dial, with a perfectly polished steel case and bracelet reflecting the light. Price: $850 euros, or about $930. 

 


Alpina
Alpinar Comtesse Sport Quartz 
Frederique Constant’s sister brand adds three new models to its Alpiner Comtesse Sport Quartz, a set of 36.5mm quartz-powered models we first saw in 2015. In black, blue and white, each watch offers matching bezel and a steel bracelet, with the black-dialed model set with a blackened steel case and bracelet.  As with previous models, the markings on the dials are studded with eight diamonds and include large luminescent hands and the date at 6 o’clock. Pricing starts at 695 euros, or about $760.

 

 

 


Blancpain
Valentine’s Day Marilyn Monroe 
Blancpain is debuting an evening watch based on a Blancpain watch once owned by Marilyn Monroe. The small rectangular white gold watch features an Art Deco style case set with 84 diamonds, sometimes in superposed rows, including two marquise-cut gems. The mother-of-pearl dial, inlaid with two hearts, is adorned with two brilliant-cut diamonds and two butterflies made of diamond and ruby hearts. Inside is an all-new rectangular caliber 510, a major new addition to the Blancpain collection. Issued in a 14-piece limited edition, the Blancpain Valentine’s Day 2020 watch is available with a calf leather strap secured by a pin buckle set with a brilliant-cut diamond.  Price: $37,400.

 

 


Breguet
Classique 9065

As we first showed you earlier this year, the newest Breguet Classique 9065 takes on a new, darker look with a stunning Tahitian mother-of-pearl dial. Also new is the rich red heart on the seconds hand, possibly employed by Breguet to remind the wearer of the passing time.  The new 33.5mm rose gold watch stands apart from earlier examples not only due to the new dial and rotating heart, but also for its red ruby crown, a garnet-colored date window (framed in rose gold) and an iridescent red satin strap. For enhanced glamour, Breguet also sets eighty-eight brilliant-cut diamonds along the bezel and on the lugs. Inside you will find Breguet’s automatic 591A caliber. Breguet is offering the watch as part of a series of twenty-eight numbered timepieces to be sold at certain Breguet boutiques.
Price: $28,600.


G-Shock
Transparent Rose Gold

An finally, take your pick from this all-new trio of G-SHOCK 1990s-inspired women’s watches, just in time for Valentine’s day. This clear-cased series includes a range of timepieces from G-SHOCK’s popular GMAS110, GMAS120 and GMDS6900 models that also add clear resin bands and rose-gold-colored metallic accents. Two models feature circular cases with large side buttons, while the third boasts the classic three-eye G-Shock digital LCD display.

The GMAS110SR-7A and GMAS120SR-7A sell for $140 each, while the GMDS6900SR-7 is priced at $110.


 

At LVMH Watch Week in mid-January, Zenith debuted a new Defy collection made specifically for women. 

Called Defy Midnight, the line of 36mm steel watches is wide-ranging, with a selection of star-flecked dials on gradient blue, grey and mother-of-pearl dials. Every watch includes a steel bracelet and three additional leather straps, a set that represents a level of customization previously not found with any Zenith collection.    

We spoke with Zenith CEO Julien Tornare about Zenith’s path to the Defy Midnight collection. Read his comments below, in which Tornare also teases us just a bit about upcoming Zenith debuts.  

 

iW: Why launch a new collection for women? 

Julien Tornare: From the moment I came on board at Zenith, I was asked about creating new watches for women. This took time because first we addressed changes needed in the Elite and Chronomaster collections. I couldn’t do it all at the same time for many reasons, but we did address those once we saw that the Defy collections were a success. 

For women, we had models in Elite and in the Pilot collection.  But for a long time we didn’t have a complete strategy on women’s watches. 

 

What were your primary considerations when approaching the Defy Midnight design? 

My first thought was to create watches for women of the 21st-century, for today. That meant we needed to do that within Defy, which is our modern-focused collection. We needed to combine emotion and something rational. By that I mean a good tool for 21st century women.  

We worked within the ‘Time to Reach Your Star’ Zenith marketing concept, which focuses on achievement, being someone very active. To represent that we wanted to have the sky on the dial, so we have the sky and the stars on the dial. And among these stars is your star, the one you are looking for – the one you want to grab, to reach. This could be in your private life or in your business, your sports or your arts. We all have stars we want to reach.  

This is the emotion of the collection, the story. So first I wanted to have this dimension to the new collection.

Then we realized that women of the 21st-century often have four lives in one. My wife reminds me of this quite often, that women are quite better at multitasking than men. So I wanted a watch that women could use in different circumstances.  

We did not invent interchangeability for straps.  But we may be the first to sell the watch with a bracelet and an additional three straps. 

A woman of the 21st-century has many lives, and her day moves quickly.  Perhaps going to the gym wearing the bracelet, then changing it to the strap for a cocktail in the evening. We are offering four watches in one.

 

What about the technical aspects of the watch? 

I have always been against using quartz movements only for women’s watches and mechanical movements for men’s models. I think that is totally old-fashioned and wrong.  We do have more and more women telling us they want a mechanical watch, something sophisticated, and not with a battery. 

For the Defy Midnight Dials, we first thought about the starry sky that you can see when you visit our manufacture. And, our logo is a star. So we placed a sky on the dial in several colors, but it’s always with the stars. The star symbol is very positive around the world in many different areas. Ratings are given in stars.  Hollywood has stars. Zenith is lucky to have a star as its logo. We want to capitalize much more on that. 

 

How will you support the collection in your marketing?

‘Dream Her’ is a concept we’ll be doing this year in which we invite women who have achieved great things in very different fields to discuss their lives.  We will host events where this takes place. We are going to accompany these events with huge exhibitions. We will do these around the world, and they will each last about a week. 

 

(Zenith’s Elite Classic )

How have you changed the Elite collection?

We needed to update the design of the Elite collection. As you know I used to work for a classic brand, so I know what I wanted for Elite. It was a good thing that we had a successful Defy collection, which gave us the time to work on Elite, as well as Chronomaster. 

If you want to do a classic watch, which by the way can be the most difficult to design, we have to go for elegance. If you buy a watch like that, it is because you want an elegant watch. 

We worked on the case, the lugs, and looked within our own history. We refined the lugs and made a thin case– and added more value to the dial.  I thought that some of the earlier models were a bit flat and without emotion.

This is why we settled on a sunburst dial that is actually quite costly to create. I am so happy to relaunch this, because I believe there are always clients for an elegant watch. 

(Zenith’s new Elite Moonphase)

Can you offer our readers a peek at upcoming Zenith debuts? 

This will be a very interesting year for Zenith. Remember that last year we had all the 50th anniversary celebrations where we launched all of the revival limited editions for Chronomaster. The massive interest in Chronomaster leads us to our April debuts this year. 

You will also see another version of Defy coming this spring. This is the collection where we can play with colors and with limited editions. But Chronomaster must be linked to our history, so it will remain as you know it.  

In January during LVMH Watch Week, Zenith underscored a wide range of its bedrock designs with new pilot models and added a feminine touch within its Defy collection and new Elite collection watches. At the same time, Zenith expanding its Defy 21 high-speed model offerings with two special editions reflecting new and existing partnerships.  

The Le Locle-based watchmaker unveiled a wide-ranging 36mm Defy Midnight collection with dials in a gradated deep blue or grey meant to recall the evening sky – including a Zenith star. The dials within the Defy Midnight collection feature stars of different sizes – some of which glow in the dark. One of the dials is made with white mother-pearl with a vertical gradient effect, intended to evoke moonlight on a cloudy night. Even the rotor on the Elite in-house movement is star-shaped and completely visible from a clear sapphire caseback. 

Defy Midnight, with diamonds

This full Defy Midnight (priced starting at $8,600) is being offered with a wide assortment of interchangeable bracelets and straps. Each watch will come in a box that includes three additional colored straps and an interchangeable folding clasp. (See our interview with Zenith CEO Julien Tornare for more about Defy Midnight).

Elite Additions
Zenith has revamped its Elite collection of unisex watches, making them a bit slimmer and more minimalistic. Look for two new Elite collections in 2020: the Elite Classic (starting at $5,700) and Moonphase (starting at $6,700). Both collections feature models in 40.5mm and 36mm case diameters, in stainless steel or rose gold. 

Pilot’s Watches
Zenith is debuting two new Pilot’s watches:
The Pilot Type 20 Rescue ($7,100) and Pilot Type 20 Chronograph Rescue ($7,600) are offered in a stainless steel case with a slate-grey sunray dial, with the signature oversized Arabic numerals entirely made out of SuperLumiNova. (Zenith notes that the pricing indicated here is subject to change). 

Defy 21
Coinciding with the debut of the next-generation Land Rover Defender, Zenith and the famed British carmaker have collaborated on the Defy 21 Land Rover Edition ($13,400). Limited to 250 pieces, the new watch is a new look for Zenith’s 1/100th of a second chronograph. The new model is cased in micro blasted titanium, and paired with a matching grey dial that now boasts a linear power reserve window with the new touches of color.

Partnering with DJ Carl Cox, Zenith has also expanded Defy 21 with the new Defy 21 Carl Cox ($18,800), limited to 200 pieces. Here Zenith created a new matte black carbon chronograph with a carbon fiber bezel and strap stitching that both glow in the dark. As requested by Cox, Zenith devised a rotating disk shaped like a vinyl record at 9 o’clock to serve as a running seconds indicator.

Finally, as we indicated several months ago, Zenith is now offering its 

Chronomaster Revival A384 with a perfect remake of the original Gay Frères ‘ladder’ steel bracelet ($8,100).  

Look for much more about Zenith’s 2020 debuts in future posts, including any updates to the tentative pricing indicated in our report above.