INTRODUCING: The Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph

by Mario C

If there’s something that Grand Theft Auto VI and Zenith have both taught us, it’s that patience is a virtue, eventually rewarded. After what almost seems like an eternity, Zenith breaks into Watches and Wonders 2024 with a hotly anticipated rendition of the Defy.

Ever since the Chronomaster Sport made its thunderous debut in 2021, many in the watch community bore witness to the spectacular El Primero 3600 movement, an in-house movement with the never-before-seen 1/10th of a second chronograph complication. Understandably, we were all eagerly anticipating to see what was to come next. New references? Awesome! New Chronomaster Original? Pretty good!

But in our heart of hearts, we knew there was one model that hadn’t received the El Primero 3600 treatment: The remastered Zenith Defy. The collection has come a long way since its heyday in the 1970s, as well as its 2017 facelift, so we all anticipated the day Zenith’s new darling made its migration into the collection. But the longer we waited, our sadness grew; What were weeks eventually became months and years, and while our hopes were briefly stoked by releases like the Defy 21, we eventually came to accept that it wasn’t coming any time soon…

The new Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph. Below, multiple colour varients and complimentary straps

…Until now! For Watches and Wonders 2024, Zenith at long last has debuted three all-new Defy references with the Chronomaster Sport’s El Primero 3600 movement. If you watched Season Two of FX’s The Bear, you would be familiar with the running motif ‘every second counts.’ Although Zenith shares the same sentiment, they take exception, believing that ‘every fraction of a second counts.’ This belief is only further exemplified by the automatic El Primero 3600, having made its debut alongside the aforementioned Chronomaster Sport. Offering the mind-boggling 1/10th of a second chronograph as opposed to the traditional 60, this mechanical feat is achieved by an equally perplexing high-frequency beat rate of 5Hz (36,000bph), yet still manages to eke out a significant 60-hour power reserve.

While the introduction of the El Primero movement in the Defy lineup is exciting, it’s important to give Zenith credit for its smooth and uncompromising integration into the Defy’s overall design language. Decked out in the classic Defy colour sets of blue, silver/white, and black, the new 42mm references stand only 1mm larger than the standard Skyline model, but pack a significantly bigger punch. The architecture of the original 1970s models is modernised but still readily apparent – the pushers follow the sharply drawn lines of the case, while the screw-down signed crown maintains the sports watch’s water resistance of 100m.

Taught lines and that 70’s flair!

The classic El Primero chronograph layout of overlapping subdials and a colour-matched 4:30 date window are also merged with the collection’s distinctive starry sky-patterned design, adorned with engraved four-pointed stars. Enhancing the aesthetic, the flange ring with the 1/10th of a second scale exhibits twelve facets, effectively mirroring the dodecagonal bezel and elongating the design of the hour markers.

The now familiar starry night pattern on the Defy Skyline dial, blended with Zenith’s iconic overlapping subdials

One other welcome benefit of the Defy Skyline lineup is the integrated strap change mechanism, allowing for effortless swapping between the steel bracelet and rubber straps without the hassle of tools. This and the fact that Zenith includes both the steel bracelet and the rubber strap as standard. For some strange reason, it’s a feature that is missing from the Chronomaster Sport collection, which has always puzzled me, but I’m glad that the Defy Chronograph isn’t privy to this issue. And I’d love to see it make its way through the rest of the collections sooner rather than later.

Final Thoughts

I have a friend who, aside from being a big watch collector, is also a massive Zenith head. Now that the El Primero 3600 has been integrated into this piece I’m fairly certain that he and the rest of the watch community are doing backflips. The marriage between Zenith’s obvious mechanical mastery and the iconic Defy design is something we watch fans have been waiting for, and it’s almost surreal to see the watch of our dreams made manifest. 

Some major wrist candy here!

These watches embody Zenith’s commitment to innovation, setting a standard for both Watches and Wonders and the horological world and proving that yes, patience truly pays off. My advice? Get in on these as quickly as you can, because even a Zenith won’t be able to time how quickly these will sell out.

References: Blue/Steel Bracelet (03.9500.3600/51.I001), Black/Steel Bracelet (03.9500.3600/21.I001), Silver/Steel Bracelet (03.9500.3600/01.I001)

Specification:

  • Case: 42mm
  • Case Material: Brushed and Polished Steel
  • Case back: Steel screw-down with sapphire display back
  • Dial: Sunray brushed, star patterned blue/black/silver dial with sub-dials
  • Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance: 100 Metres (10BAR) with Screw-Down Crown
  • Movement: El Primero 3600 high-frequency automatic movement with 1/10th second chronograph function
  • Power reserve: 60 Hours
  • Strap/Bracelet: Integrated steel or ceramic bracelet interchangeable with dial matching blue or black rubber with quick change system

Australian Recommended Retail Price: AU$20,700

Availability: Available shortly through all Zenith Boutiques, authorised retailers or online at Zenith-watches.com

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