Zenith Defy Extreme Double TourbillonDecember 14, 2022
Even though it’s one of the most involved complications in the industry, developments in expertise and technology have enabled many brands to experiment with the tourbillon. A double tourbillon, however, is more rarely seen. Whether that’s due to the inversely proportional relationship of time and the usefulness of tourbillons in wristwatches or the inherent complexity in such a creation, I don’t know. Zenith, however, didn’t shy away from the latter, and simply don’t seem to care about the former, as in 2019, they released the impressive Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon. This year, the brand is again employing the El Primero 9020 calibre for the new Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon. The most obvious update for the Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon watches is with the new case and accompanying materials. Dark grey tones of brushed and polished titanium feature in the case and bracelet of one of the two new models, with a mostly monochromatic finish, save for a few gold details on the dial – more on those later. The 45mm case diameter is actually a 1mm decrease over the predecessor with the same movement, the large size undoubtedly helped by the lighter weight of titanium. Even lighter than titanium is carbon, made nobler by the inclusion of a precious metal – in this case, 18k rose gold. I’m a big proponent of the black-and-gold colour combination, and the combination of high-tech and decidedly classic work well on an avant-garde piece like this. The other objective upgrade comes in the form of water resistance, which doubles to 200m when compared to the Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon. Considering the piece is part of the Defy Extreme collection and Zenith’s love of skeletonisation, it’s only natural for the Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon to show off its assets dial-side. To help with legibility, the chronograph sub-dials use tinted sapphire discs onto which the markings are printed, the same goes for the power reserve and Zenith branding at 12 o’clock. The left side of the dial is entirely occupied by the two tourbillons. Differing in size owing to their independent frequencies, they’re suspended from black PVD-coated openworked bridges, with chamfers highlighted in rose gold. This rose gold accenting is present throughout the movement, which is a contrast of silver, black and gold. The El Primero 9020 shares similarities with the TAG Heuer Mikrotourbillon S, a hand-wound, twin-tourbillon set up with the escapements beating at 4Hz and 50Hz. The upper of the two tourbillons is responsible for the operation of the chronograph, beating at an astounding 50Hz, meaning that it completes a rotation every 5 seconds. This escapement allows the Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon to measure increments of up to 1/100th of a second. Below is your “standard” one-minute tourbillon, acting as the escapement for the Defy Extreme’s regular timekeeping componentry. It’s also larger in diameter, meaning more inertia and better accuracy due to its reduced beat rate. Having said that, its frequency is by no means slow, beating at 5Hz like many other offerings from Zenith. There are twin barrels, too, one for timekeeping and the other for the chronograph, providing 50 hours and 50 minutes of power reserve, respectively.
Zenith’s Defy Extreme erupted on the scene in 2021 as a high-testosterone brother to the already virile, heavy-duty, high-performance Defy collection. Making its debut with a 1/100th of a second chronograph with two escapements, the Defy Extreme is back with an even more complex high-frequency chronograph movement equipped with two independent tourbillon mechanisms. Available in brushed titanium or sleek black carbon fibre with sandblasted rose gold accents, the Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon watches boasts Zenith’s most advanced chronograph movement to date, with a 60-second tourbillon driving the time and a 5-second tourbillon driving the chronograph.
It’s hard to have a meaningful and complete conversation about chronographs without including Zenith, and in addition to being one of the world’s very first automatic chronograph movements, the Zenith El Primero is also frequently considered to be one of the finest designs ever created. Expanding upon the core platform of Zenith’s Defy Extreme 1/100th of a second high-frequency automatic chronograph are two models that add a pair of independent tourbillon mechanisms to create one of the most advanced iterations of the El Primero that has ever been put forward. Available in either full-titanium or rose gold and carbon fiber, the new Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon watches join the brand’s collection as regular serially-produced models, and they feature separate tourbillon mechanisms for both the timekeeping side of the movement and the chronograph. Just like the two escapements within the movement that run at different frequencies, each of the two tourbillon mechanisms rotates at a different speed, creating what could be seen as the ultimate expression of the Defy Extreme’s signature hyper-sporty aesthetic.