Zenith Defy El Primero 21 SpectrumApril 9, 2021
Expanding on its stylishly modern DEFY 21 lineup, Swiss luxury watchmaker Zenith is now introducing a new limited-edition collection that taps into the colors of the rainbow.
Aptly named Spectrum, the new offerings explore the theme of light and span across five different colors, including black, blue, purple, orange and green. Each of them carries a 44mm stainless steel case covered in 288 brilliant-cut white diamonds, complemented by a display of 44 baguette-cut precious stones set in the bezel which match in color with the skeletonized timepieces’ movements and rubber straps. The green model uses tsavorites and both the orange and blue variants hold sapphires, while the purple edition carries amethyst and the black option is equipped with spinels.
As usual, the Zenith DEFY 21 is powered by the revolutionary in-house El Primero 21 calibre, a movement that operates at a whopping 360,000 vibrations per hour with a chronograph function that can measure down to 1/100th of a second.
Limited to just 10 examples for each color, Zenith’s DEFY 21 Spectrum collection will be available soon exclusively at the watchmaker’s boutiques across the globe.
Colors have become a bit of a thing in watchmaking over the last year or so. This is something I am very much for. Colors are fun, and watch collecting should also be equally as fun, therefore watch collecting should be colorful. I’m not a mathematician, but that makes for a pretty compelling argument in my books! The new Zenith Spectrum series is a perfect example of this.
Some brands have embraced this comeback with arms wide open, and Zenith has to be commended for being one such brand. The Swiss brand has happily used colors in various ways across its DEFY line in the past few years. We’ve seen colored ceramic cases and different colored dials, and even movements. We’ve mainly seen blues, greens, and purples up to this point, but now Zenith has decided to take the next step to expand its palette. Not only that, but we’re now adding in precious stones too. Shiny!
As the name suggests, at the heart of these colorful novelties is the El Primero 21, Zenith’s revolutionary 1/100th of a second chronograph caliber that beats at the blistering speed of 50Hz. Right now, this is the fastest chronograph in production and, indeed, the only one that can accurately measure elapsed time to 1/100th of a second and display it legibly. With the El Primero 21 doing the business on the inside, what has Zenith done to create an external fanfare?
Named after the range of colors produced by the different wavelengths of visible light, the Spectrum series features five watches representing five different spectrum frequencies. You may momentarily wonder why the recently launched Ultraviolet is not a part of this collection? Well, if we go back to our physics lessons, “Ultraviolet” means “beyond violet”, with violet being the color of the highest frequencies of visible light. So, Ultraviolet is outside of the spectrum of visible light frequencies. If you paid attention in school and knew this instantly, well done. I was one of those who was momentarily wondering.
The five Spectrum series watches’ recurring themes are a 44m stainless steel case, which has been entirely embellished with 288 brilliant-cut white diamonds. Each version features a bezel set with 44 baguette-cut precious stones, matching colored movements, and rubber straps. Green tsavorites for the green edition, orange sapphires for the orange edition, blue sapphires for the blue edition, amethyst for the purple edition, and black spinels for the black edition.
I’m a little confused by the black edition, as literal black light is not a thing. A black light emits long-wave ultraviolet light, but, as we’ve discussed, ultraviolet light is not part of the visible spectrum of light. I’d have possibly gone with yellow instead of black to stay in keeping with the spectrum theme. Still, I get that black is invariably more commercially viable. Not everyone loves yellow watches as much as I do.
It’s tough to pick a winner here because I’m not a diamond kinda guy. I’ve bought diamonds twice, both times for my wife, but they’re not something I could see myself wearing. That said, I do quite like the colored stones on the bezels. Every guy has to allow himself a little bit of a guilty pleasure, right? Ignoring the diamond-set case, the blue is probably just ahead as my favorite. I like a nice sapphire.
Another interesting fact. I had to google the tsavorite stones used in the green model as I would have assumed that Zenith would use emeralds as they’re the better-known green stone. I found out that tsavorite is roughly 200 times rarer than emeralds, yet available for a fraction of the price. It also offers a more brilliant sparkle and hides inclusions better than emerald. I found that quite interesting. I still think I prefer the blue-/green color of emeralds over the more vibrant hue of tsavorites. Isn’t learning fun?
In recent years, the watch industry has embraced color more than ever before – from dials that run the gamut of Pantone colors to bezels set with a full rainbow of gems. At Watches & Wonders 2021, Zenith offers its take on the trend with a twist.
In the latest iteration of the Defy – which, as you might recall, really has no dial at all – the brand has given its modern El Primero 21 chronograph movement a colorful PVD treatment coupled with a matching gem-set bezel and rubber strap in five bold hues, offering an entirely new approach to vivid, kinetic vibrance. Each tone – green, orange, blue, purple, and black – is available in a limited edition run of just 10 watches, forming the new Defy Spectrum collection.
The Zenith Defy 21 Chronograph has set a new standard for Zenith’s El Primero lineup since its 2017 debut. In case you need a refresher, the innovative nature of the Defy 21 starts with a souped-up version of the El Primero that comes equipped with two separate escapements – one for the time; the other for the chronograph – each with a balance spring composed of a patented material called Carbon-Matrix Carbon Nanotube. The result is the fastest chronograph in current production and the only chronograph with accuracy to 1/100th of a second, beating at an astonishing rate of 360,000 vph.
With the Defy Spectrum, which hits boutiques in June, Zenith highlights this incredible caliber’s mechanical prowess through a daring color treatment right on the chronograph movement itself. This one-of-a-kind design is achieved through an innovative pigmentation process using PVD coating.Here, the skeleton dial is framed by a color-matched gem-set bezel with 44 baguette-cut precious stones: Green tsavorites for the green edition, orange sapphires for the orange edition, blue sapphires for the blue edition, amethyst garnets for the purple edition, and black spinels for the black edition. In addition, each colorway features a 44mm stainless steel case embellished with a whopping 288 brilliant-cut white diamonds, setting the ideal backdrop for the vibrant hues to really pop. Zenith has taken obvious care in selecting stones of the same size, color, and WS quality, and each stone is set by hand.
My first watch was a 38mm El Primero on bracelet, so I admittedly have a soft spot for Zenith. And when I experienced the Defy 21 in the metal a couple of years ago, I immediately added it to my list of grail watches. You can imagine my delight when I received Zenith’s latest releases for Watches & Wonders and saw this fun and playful set of Defy models in five rich and dreamy hues.