Zenith Defy Revival ShadowMarch 30, 2023
After bringing back the Zenith Defy A3642 with the Defy Revival last year, Zenith is now giving the Zenith Defy Revival Shadow the titanium treatment. Meet the new Zenith Defy Revival Shadow. It’s the same silhouette and angular case as last year’s Defy Revival, but now in microblasted titanium. That is to say: an octagonal case measuring 37mm diameter, that distinctive 14-sided bezel, and Zenith’s ladder bracelet. Unlike the original Defy line introduced in 1969, which often featured colorful and gradient dials, the new Zenith Defy Revival Shadow , true to its name, has a matte black dial.
The new case material is the obvious headline, so let’s start there. The original Defy case, as well as last year’s revival, use a variety of brushed and polished surfaces, giving the case a lot of structure and character. Now, the entire case and bracelet is rendered in microblasted titanium, giving it all a monolithic look – different surfaces and facets don’t catch the light in different ways like the steel Defy, but seem to absorb any light they come into contact with. Using such a modern material in a decidedly retro case is a bold choice, but Zenith says that was deliberate. Back in 1969, the Defy was very retrofuturistic, so I suppose it makes sense that, in 2023, that same idea would manifest itself in a matte titanium watch.
To match the titanium case, the dial is matte black, with the same space-age hour markers with horizontal grooves seen on last year’s steel Defy releases. The date is at 4:30, and the hands have a beige-colored Super-Luminova, with lume plots also placed above those hour markers.
The Zenith Defy Revival Shadow is powered by Zenith automatic Elite 670, which runs at 28,800 beats per hour and has a 50-hour power reserve. It’s the same movement used in the steel versions of the Defy Revival. The new Defy Revival Shadow will be available at Zenith boutiques, online, and authorized dealers with an MSRP of $7,400.
Perhaps my favorite modern Zenith is/was the Chronomaster Revival Shadow. It’s a watch I didn’t give much thought after seeing it in photos, but in person I loved it. And I feel similarly about the Zenith Defy Revival Shadow after looking at these images for a few minutes. Nothing about a titanium Defy really makes sense on paper or on screen, but in person it might work. The angles on the case of that Chronomaster Revival Shadow truly impress in person, and you start to notice how the titanium still catches the light in subtly different ways, something press photos don’t (and can’t) communicate. And the Revival Shadow has a lot more angles than that Chronomaster: 14 of ’em on the bezel, and eight on the case. And while part of the appeal of a chunky, ’70s watch like the Defy is the bit of heft you feel when you put it on, there’s certainly going to be some cognitive dissonance putting a lightweight, 37mm titanium hunk on the wrist. As for the price, no doubt it’s a lot to ask for a time-and-date Zenith, even if it is in line with last year’s steel Defy releases (that is to say, a slight premium). But more and more brands are doing titanium at prices lower than this. Still, not a lot of other watches look like the Defy. So if titanium retrofuturism is your vibe, look no further.
Last year, when Zenith introduced the first limited-edition Defy Revival, vintage Zenith collector Greg Selch gave us a suggestion for a future Defy release, saying, “maybe try a DLC coating and a black dial. How cool would that be?” I can’t wait to see what collectors like him think about this one. They got the black he asked for, but certainly not in the way I might’ve expected for the Defy.