Zenith Takes Us From Glaciers To Skyline With Two New Defy ReleasesJanuary 11, 2023
Zenith announced some exciting new updates to two watches in their Defy line. Born in the late ’60s with a collection of sport watches, the Defy line is currently Zenith’s home for combining their technical prowess with futuristic “forms and materials.” Though you may spot a wild-colored strap on a Chronomaster or a tasteful diamond bezel on an Elite watch, the Defy line is where you go to see Zenith get a little funky and flashy.
First up, the Zenith Defy Skyline drops down from 41mm to a very wrist-friendly 36mm, available in three new colors. On offer, you will find a deep blue (already available and quite striking in the 41mm versions) and candy-aisle colors of pastel pink and green.
The Zenith Defy Skyline 36mm watches retain the case profile and steel material of their larger cousin, available with or without diamonds. If you opt for the diamond version I’m sure Sarah wouldn’t mind if you borrowed her “Juicy! This Defy With Diamonds!” line, so something to consider.
Each watch comes equipped with a quick strap-change mechanism and included star-patterned rubber strap. The satin-brushed dial also picks up the star motif, with engraved four-pointed stars bursting out of the Zenith text and five-point star. There’s a date window and 100m of water resistance which seem frivolous on a watch so frivolous but I guess it is always nice to know one could fall into a pool worry free and track how many days until the rent is due. The source of all this star power is the Elite 670 automatic movement, found most commonly in the Elite line. While it doesn’t have the history of the El Primero it gets the job done with 50 hours of power reserve and a star-shaped rotor. The watch clocks in at $8,500 without diamonds, $12,000 with.
Next up we go from ice (diamonds) to ice (frozen water) with the Defy Extreme Glacier. Built to withstand extreme conditions, this year’s new Defy takes inspiration from sub-zero temps and big ass blocks of ice. It all starts with the El Primero high-frequency chronograph movement at its core (an EXTREME way of saying inside). Luckily the watch has an open dial so you can see the 1/100th of a second movement and the two regulating organs beating at 50Hz (EXTREMELY fast) and five Hz (also extremely fast). The chronograph counters are made of transparent sapphire crystal for EXTREME (last one sorry) visibility.
This Defy Extreme is part of a line of special editions that incorporate stones from the harsh environments the watch is related to and the chronograph pushers and bezel are crafted from Chalcedony, “a crystalline semi-translucent stone with a pale blue hue.” The case is crisp Titanium, 45mm, and comes with a Titanium bracelet, black velcro strap, and white rubber strap. The watch is limited to 50 pieces and will set you back a cool $26,100.
One of the things I find most impressive about the Elite 36mm is that if you weren’t looking for all of that Star-related stuff you wouldn’t necessarily find it. All those stars everywhere but I would hesitate to call it a star-themed watch, and I appreciate anything or anybody who can do the most while still looking a little chic.
Whether or not the new Zenith Defy Skyline suits your aesthetic taste, you have to admit the move down to 36mm is a smart one. The most obvious competition are the colorful Omega Aqua Terras from last year and those are in 34 and 38mm. Someone at Zenith saw the opportunity to fill a sweet spot and took it. I do think the combo of sporty steel bracelet, octagonal bezel, and bright dial is a winning match, but I’ll have to see the pink and green in person to really make a call on them (that dark blue is stunning, however).
This Intro post is a real study in contrasts, huh? The Defy Extreme is less my cup of tea but I do think it is an effective watch that telegraphs what it has to say without a healthy overserving of machismo cheese. The materials are incredibly well thought out and rare, the technology is there and it does look like if I bit it my teeth would be set on edge. I think the black rubber strap is actually more effective than the bracelet and brings out the depth of the watch. Also, it would probably stand up to some truly EXTREME environments.