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Zenith unveils the second model in its collection of faithfully reproduced early Defy models with the Defy Revival A3691, a sharp-looking 37mm steel watch with a glossy red gradient dial that echoes the original from 1971.

The new Zenith Defy Revival A3691.

You might recall the first revival of the historic Defy series a few years ago when Zenith launched the Defy A3642. That debut recalled the original 1969 Zenith debut watch fans quickly dubbed the “bank vault” due to its thick 37mm octagonal case and fourteen-sided bezel.

This newest addition to the revival series retains the Defy fourteen-sided bezel set in an octagonal case. Zenith launched the original Defy A3691 model two years after the original ‘Bank Vault’ edition and with it introduced new colorful dials with a vignette or gradient effect that darkens towards the edges. 

Like the original, the new Revival A3691 also features unusual applied square hour markers with horizontal grooves and the Gay Frères steel ladder bracelet. Zenith says the bracelet has been updated with a more modern and ergonomic folding clasp.

The differences between the original model and the new revival are largely technical. The  new edition now utilizes a sapphire crystal, SuperLuminova-coated hands and a new Zenith Elite 670 automatic movement, which boasts a fifty-hour power reserve. 

Also new is the sapphire caseback, which allows a view of the movement and its four-point Zenith star rotor. And, despite the new clear back, Zenith has retained the watch’s healthy 300-meter water resistance rating.

Zenith adds the new Defy Revival A3691 to the ongoing Defy collection. Price: $6,900.

 

Specifications: Zenith Defy Revival A3691

Movement: Zenith Elite 670 automatic, 4 Hz frequency, power reserve of 50 hours. Star-shaped rotor with satin finish.

Case: 37mm steel, 300-meters of water resistance.

Dial: Ruby color gradient with rhodium-plated and faceted hour markers and hands, hands coated with SuperLuminova. 

Bracelet: Gay Frères ladder-style with updated folding clasp.

Price: $6,900. 

Focusing on its contemporary Defy collection for early 2023, Zenith this week adds new 36mm and skeleton models to its hot new Defy Skyline series while also introducing a new Defy Extreme design.

Two of the new Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton models pictured alongside an existing Defy Skyline.

Defy Skyline Skeleton 

Introduced last year, the 41mm Defy Skyline has become a strong-selling steel bracelet design for Zenith. The watch, with its constantly running 1/10th of a second counter at 9 o’clock (completing one revolution every ten seconds) introduced El Primero 3620, a new iteration of its El Primero 3600, which headlined the debut of the Zenith Chronomaster Sport in 2021.

The new Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton, in blue.

As Zenith explains, this automatic manufacture movement drives the 1/10th of a second hand directly from the escapement, which beats at 36,000 VpH, thus making it a “natural fraction-of-a-second indication.”

With the new Defy Skyline Skeleton Zenith adds two versions of the steel watch with a skeletonized symmetric dial that looks much like four-pointed stars. Zenith notes that the open-work here is a direct reference to a Zenith “double Z” logo of the 1960s.

You may recall that the Defy Skyline’s faceted bezel is also meant to recall early 1960s eight-sided Defy models that have been now reimagined with twelve sides, each positioned as extensions to the hour markers.

Blue or black

Defying the typical hard-to-read skeleton dial design, Zenith purposefully applied a generous amount of SuperLuminova to the Skyline Skeleton’s applied baton hour markers and its central hour and minute hands. 

Zenith offers the new skeleton design in a black or blue hue. The same color can be found on the main plate as well as the bridges and open star-shaped oscillating weight, visible from the back.

As usual, Zenith mixes its finishes, applying matte, satin-brushed and polished surfaces to the steel case and bezel. Its efficient automatic bi-directional winding mechanism with a star-shaped rotor delivers a power reserve of approximately sixty hours. The Defy’s steel bracelet can be swapped with the supplied rubber strap and steel folding clasp the boasts a starry sky pattern, matching the dial.

Price: $11,000

 

Defy Skyline 36mm

Also new in 2023 is a slightly smaller Skyline model, which debuts in three new pastel colors, each offered with or without a diamond bezel.

Unlike the 41mm debut edition Skyline and the new Skeleton version, this unisex example is a traditional time-and-date model fitted with a Zenith Elite movement that doesn’t include the one-tenth-of-a-second subdial at 6 o’clock.

Price: $8,500 (no diamonds) and  $12,000 (with diamonds).

One of the new Zenith Defy Skyline 36 models. The series is available with and without a diamond bezel.

Zenith also adds a Boutique Edition to the lineup of the original 41mm model offerings. This model  features a contrasting color scheme with rose gold highlights. Zenith has engraved the watch’s anthracite dial with a rose gold motif and added rose gold hands and hour markers.

The new Zenith Defy Skyline Boutique Edition.

The intent, according to Zenith, is to mimic the night sky and its twinkling stars. To do this, artisans have engraved the Skyline’s characteristic four-pointed star dial pattern and then plated it with rose gold. 

Zenith will deliver the watch on a steel bracelet with a satin-brushed surface and chamfered and polished edges. An easy-change black rubber strap with a starry sky pattern is also provided.

Price: $8,400.

 

Defy Extreme Glacier 

Zenith also adds the Defy Extreme Glacier in 2023 as an extension of its rugged 45mm titanium-cased Defy Extreme collection, a series that boasts a 1/100-of-a-second El Primero chronograph.

The new Zenith Defy Extreme Glacier boasts a chalcedony dodecagonal outer bezel and pusher protectors.

More specifically, the new watch is meant to complement the Defy Extreme Desert from 2021. While that watch was designed to echo hot and arid conditions, the new model is inspired by frozen landscapes and built with a chalcedony dodecagonal outer bezel and pusher protectors.

Chalcedony is a crystalline semi-translucent stone with a pale blue color meant to look like a frozen glacier. Zenith says each stone is cut and polished by hand, and because each exhibits slightly different colors and fibers, every bezel from the fifty-piece limited edition will appear slightly different on each of the fifty examples of the Defy Extreme Glacier.

Zenith continues the ice-cold theme by making the chronograph counters using transparent sapphire crystal that’s also given a terrific frosted finish to look icy and to allow light to pass through. 

Through the frosted finish the wearer will see an El Primero 9004 high-frequency chronograph movement, found in all the Defy Extreme models. The movement offers 1/100th-of-a -second time measurements with two independent escapements. One beats at 5Hz (36,000 VpH) for timekeeping while the second vibrates at 50Hz (360,000 VpH) to activate the chronograph function. Zenith makes the nicely finished movement, a certified chronometer, visible through the sapphire display back.

Zenith finishes the watch with a black Velcro strap and white rubber strap, which can be easily swapped with the titanium bracelet using Zenith’s quick strap-change mechanism. 

As noted, Zenith will offer the Defy Extreme Glacier as a limited edition of fifty pieces, available exclusively at Zenith stores and online boutiques. 

Price: $26,100.

At the end of the year, it’s time to note our favorite 2022 debut watches. Through the end of the week, we’ll re-acquaint you with our top timekeepers of the year.

Below is our second installment of our four-day  review of our favorites, in no particular order.

 

Patek Philippe: Chronograph with Perpetual Calendar 

And among this watchmaker’s many 2022 chronograph debuts, look no further than the new Ref. 5373P-001, a split-seconds mono-pusher chronograph with perpetual calendar, for some true novelty. The watch differs from its predecessor (Ref. 5372) with newly inverted displays, pushers and crown.

Made for specifically “for the right-hand wrists of left-handers,” according to the watchmaker, the new 38.3mm platinum-cased watch is a premiere design for the company.

Patek Philippe notes however that a 1927 one-of-a-kind watch inspired the design of the new model. Like the earlier watch, the new watch features its integrated chronograph monopusher at the 9 o’clock position with the split-seconds pusher set, unusually, at 8 o’clock.

The sporty red, black  and grey dial on the Ref. 5373P-001 is cleverly finished with a black gradation at its edge, framing snailed ebony-black subsidiary dials.The watch’s beautifully finished caliber CHR 27-525 PS Q, still the thinnest split-seconds chronograph movement with perpetual calendar ever produced by the manufacture, can be admired through the sapphire-crystal display back, which is interchangeable with the solid-platinum back delivered with the watch. Price upon request. 

 

MB&F: M.A.D.1 Red

Collectors frustrated by very limited nature of the 2021 MB&F M.A.D.1 had a chance to score a new version of the watch, which is a very cool, affordably priced automatic watch with lateral time display and tricked-out upside-down Miyota movement.

Like that first watch, the newer red model also displays time via two highly luminous rotating cylinders around its case. Just as eye-catching is the unidirectional titanium and tungsten triple-blade rotor spinning quickly atop the watch. MB&F makes all this happen by fitting and re-engineering the watch’s Miyota movement upside-down in the M.A.D. 1 Red case.     

MB&F is making these special editions under a new brand name, M.A.D. Editions, and has long-term plans for additional models. Collectors who have previously contacted MB&F about the earlier M.A.D. Edition watch, or who already own an MB&F watch (or are MB&F Friends) are first in line to purchase the new watch. 

Given the price (CHF 2,900) and the pedigree of the new M.A.D.1 Red, the watch sold out quickly.

 

Zenith: Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Édition 

Zenith teamed with Phillips and independent watchmaker Kari Voutilainen to restore and hand-decorate a batch of vintage Zenith Caliber 135-O movements. From the partnership, Zenith launched the Caliber 135 Observatoire Limited Edition, a stunning 38mm platinum chronometer watch rife with vintage design cues that complement the 1950s-era manual-wind movement inside.

The modern Zenith star logo on the dial may be the only contemporary design detail on this retro beauty. Its tapered lugs, sapphire glass box crystal, triangular hour markers, faceted gold hands and seconds subdial recall the mid-20th century era when Zenith routinely took prizes in Swiss chronometry competitions – frequently with its Caliber 135. 

With more than 230 chronometry prizes, the Caliber 135-O holds the most awards of any observatory chronometer caliber in the history of watchmaking.

In addition to hand finishing the movement (above), Voutilainen (through his atelier) also applied an eye-catching guilloché engraving in a fish-scale motif to the dial along the bezel. Inside the seconds subdial, you’ll find the movement’s serial number inscribed, a gesture meant to note that each movement, regulated originally by revered chronométriers Charles Fleck or René Gygax, has been updated by Voutilainen and his team.

Unusually, Zenith and Voutilainen has signed “Neuchâtel” at the bottom of the dial. This denotes the historical Observatory where the Calibre 135-O competed and won so many of it Swiss chronometry competitions. Zenith and Phillips offered the now sold-out watch as a series of ten, each priced at CHF 132,900.  Will we see more from this partnership in 2023? Let’s hope so. 

 

Bulgari: Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition

Especially notable among Bulgari’s late 2022 debuts are two special editions created in collaboration with Japanese designers. 

One watch of the pair, the Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition, is made with Japanese architect Kazuyo Sejima, and is one of our favorites for 2022.

Sejima, who holds the 2010 Pritzker Prize among many other architecture awards, focuses the eye with a mirrored dial under a dot-pattern sapphire crystal on her version of the eight-sided Bulgari Octo Finissimo. The effect is mesmerizing, especially with the entire dial framed in a 36.6mm polished stainless steel case.

According to Bulgari, the idea bring together a “contrast between material and transparency, the visible and the invisible,” which Sejima devised in part to reflect the aesthetic codes apparent in her architectural work. 

The architect’’s signature is inscribed on the sapphire crystal caseback, which opens up the  nicely decorated automatic Manufacture movement, BVL Calibre 138 – complete with (surprise!) a platinum micro-rotor. 

Bulgari will make the Octo Finissimo Sejima Edition as a 360-piece limited edition and will delivered it in a special mirrored steel box. Price: $14,100. 

 

Montblanc: 1858 Geosphere 0 Oxygen LE1786

Montblanc’s bronze-cased world timer is dominated by two rotating three-dimensional globes, marks the return of the watchmaker’s stunning blue glacier pattern dial placed within an oxygen-free case.

First seen during Watches and Wonders 2022 gracing the Montblanc 1958 Geosphere Chronograph 0 Oxygen, the dial is the result of using an old artisanal technique called gratté boisé, also found on the firm’s new 1858 Iced Sea Automatic collection.

Like with all Montblanc 1858 Geosphere models, both the Northern and Southern hemispheres are represented with two three-dimensional globes that turn anti-clockwise and include a day & night indication so that the wearer can see what time it is across the Earth with a simple glance.

Price: $8,600. 

 

Alpina: Seastrong Diver 300 Automatic Calanda, 

Alpina’s first timepiece made with a 100% recycled stainless steel case, the watch is named to pay tribute to the Calanda, the first ship to fly the Swiss flag. The timekeeper uses recycled steel sourced from the shipping industry and made by Thyssen Krupp. Alpina pairs the watch’s 42mm case with a recycled plastic wristband.

The Geneva-based watchmaker adds the new dive watch to its expanding lines of eco-friendly models. You might recall that Alpina also launched the Seastrong Diver Gyre Automatic collection in 2020. That watch features a case made largely (70%) from plastic fishing net debris. In addition, that model’s strap is made using recycled plastic bottles while its box is made from recycled plastic.

Available as a limited edition of 300 units, the Seastrong Diver 300 Automatic Calanda’s case is polished with a satin finish, while its unidirectional rotating notched bezel is brush-finished. Alpina embeds the hour and minute hands with vintage beige luminescence and tips the seconds hand with a red triangle Alpina logo.

As noted above, Alpina has paired the watch’s recycled case with a recycled plastic (PET) strap in grey and black. Each watch comes in a case entirely made from recycled plastic, alongside a single-page warranty and a certificate of authenticity printed on FSC Recycled-certified paper.

Price: $1,895.

With the new Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon, Zenith extends the reach of one of its most technically complex movements, El Primero Caliber 9020, by placing it into two ongoing Defy Extreme designs.

The new Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon, here in a carbon case with rose gold.

The 1/100th-of-a-second high-frequency chronograph movement, with a seconds hand that races around the dial once per second, is already among the watchmaker’s defining technical achievements.

The new Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon, here in titanium, is now an ongoing Defy Extreme model.

Found previously powering special limited editions, the caliber utilizes two independent tourbillons, each regulating a different function. One tourbillon completes its rotation in sixty seconds to regulate the time display while the second tourbillon rotates in just five seconds to regulate a high-frequency chronograph. 

The new watch is now most complicated model in the Zenith Defy collection. And true to Defy’s sporty character, the new model is set in a hefty 45mm case and will be offered with two different executions.

One version features a titanium case with a mix of satin-brushed, polished and matte surfaces (including the titanium bracelet). The second model, offered on a black rubber strap, is cased in carbon fiber with sandblasted matte rose gold twelve-sided bezel and pusher protectors. Both offer open-work dials to better display the dual tourbillons and their star-shaped cages.

Zenith’s El Primero Caliber 9020, front view.

Zenith has finished the watch’s El Primero 9020 movement to emphasize its decidedly contemporary nature.

El Primero Caliber 9020, rear view.

Artisans have satin-brushed its bridges and coated them with a layer of black PVD. The finishing touch is a rose gold highlight meant to expose the various geometric shapes throughout the caliber.

Zenith is offering the new Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon as an ongoing model, in both versions, at retailers, Zenith boutiques and online Zenith boutiques.

Prices: $79,700 (carbon case, rose gold) and $69,600 (brushed titanium). 

 

Specifications: Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon 

(Reference: 12.9100.9020/78.I200, black carbon and rose gold) 

Movement: El Primero 9020, COSC-certified chronometer with 50 hours power reserve for the watch / 50 min for the chronograph. 

Functions: Hours and minutes in the centre. Double Tourbillon. 1 escapement for the Watch (36,000 VpH / 5 Hz – cage makes a turn in 60 second). 1 escapement for the Chronograph (360,000 VpH / 50 Hz – cage makes a turn in 5 second). 1/100th of a second Chronograph:  

– Central chronograph hand that makes one turn each second

– 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock

– 60-second counter at 6 o’clock

– Chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock

Special oscillating weight with satined finishings

Case: 45mm black carbon & 18-karat rose gold, water-resistance to 200 meters. 

Dial: Openworked, with gold-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1 markers and hands.

Strap & Buckle: Black Rubber with micro-blasted titanium triple folding clasp.

Price: $79,700. 

 

Specifications: Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon 

(Reference: 95.9100.9020/78.I001, in titanium) 

Movement: El Primero 9020, COSC-certified chronometer with 50 hours power reserve for the watch / 50 min for the chronograph.

Functions: Hours and minutes in the centre. Double Tourbillon. 1 escapement for the Watch (36,000 VpH / 5 Hz – cage makes a turn in 60 second). 1 escapement for the Chronograph (360,000 VpH / 50 Hz – cage makes a turn in 5 second). 1/100th of a second Chronograph:  

– Central chronograph hand that makes one turn each second

– 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock

– 60-second counter at 6 o’clock

– Chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock

Special oscillating weight with satined finishings

Case: 45mm brushed titanium, water-resistance to 200 meters.

Dial: Openworked, with gold-plated, faceted and coated with SuperLuminova SLN C1 markers and hands.

Bracelet & Buckle: Titanium bracelet with titanium folding clasp.

Price: $69,600. 

Zenith and French ski-wear maker Fusalp have teamed to create a pair of 41mm ceramic-cased Defy skeleton watches. Each model pairs Zenith’s signature star and Fusalp’s French tricolor hues on an inventive skeleton dial.

The Zenith Defy Classic Fusalp Black Ceramic.

One model, the Zenith Defy Classic Fusalp White Ceramic ($11,000) will be offered as a limited edition of 100 pieces, while the Zenith Defy Classic Fusalp Black Ceramic ($10,000) will be made as a limited edition of 300.

For its part, Fusalp will launch a matching skiwear collection, complete with a black and white theme, the French tricolor and the snowflake motif.

Zenith devised the new open-work dial for the collaborative series. In addition to the Zenith star and tricolor frame around the dial, the new watch’s cleverly drafted dial deftly exposes Zenith’s high-frequency Elite automatic movement, which powers each watch.

The Le Locle watchmaker also created a custom rubber strap for the special editions. The unusual rubber material in the strap features a fabric-like structure with a raised motif of concentric rectangles. The idea, according to Zenith, is to complement the skeleton dial with a similar graphic element.