Zenith Dives Deeper Into Their Heritage With a New Defy Extreme Diver

by Mario C

Not content with only releasing fan favourites, Zenith has taken a retrospective look at their Defy lineup, releasing a dive watch that hearkens back to its tough reputation.

Although nowadays most people know the Zenith Defy as one of the modern-day leaders in the integrated bracelet sports watch trend, their legacy stretches back to 1969. The Le Locle company founded the collection to ‘defy’ all the expectations of the average mechanical watch, putting through every test imaginable. They threw it out of windows, even strapped it to motorcycles, yet it still managed to brush it off. With its iconic design and incredible specifications, the original Defy was set to be Zenith’s GADA/beater king.

The new Zenith Defy Extreme in blue and black variants

When the Quartz Crisis hit, all hopes were dashed, with the Defy being one of many unfortunate casualties of the turbulent horological era. In the modern day, however, the Defy has thrived, carving out a new spot for itself in the industry. However, it’s a far cry from what it used to stand for – until now.

Inspired by the unstoppable heritage that precedes it, Zenith has proudly announced the new Defy Extreme Diver as part of their Watches and Wonders releases. Designed to take on practically anything the high-intensity watch wearer might encounter, the Extreme Diver’s 42.5mm case has been fashioned from titanium. This not only allows for immense strength and corrosion resistance but does so weightlessly for added convenience.

Diving down with Titanium for added strength and robustness

If you’re a routine diver (and even if you aren’t), you should also rejoice that the Defy Extreme Diver comes with all the elements you are familiar with in diver watches of this calibre, with a twist. A ceramic unidirectional bezel is present, for certain, but also features easy-grip grooved edges, and is engraved and filled with Super-LumiNova and vibrant colours. In addition, Zenith has also added a helium escape valve for those who like to venture to the most extreme of depths, so regardless of the condition – snow, rain, or shine – the Defy Extreme Diver has your back.

No issues seeing this in the dark!

All these features result in a whopping 600m water resistance, doubling the 1969 model’s and meeting the ISO 6245 requirements for professional dive watches – a standard so exacting that achieving it alone is a major success. While 600m water resistance is representative of Zenith’s technical prowess, for the keen mind, it also has a layer of symbolism.

600m is equivalent to approx. 1,969 feet, a detail serendipitous with the watch’s origin year, standing as a tribute to the original Defy lineup. Zenith also pays homage throughout the design, inspired by the coveted Defy Ref. A3648. Using the reference’s signature orange, the Defy Extreme Diver almost feels like the son of the original, combining the vast heritage with modern technical know-how. The signature Zenith star dial remains, either in blue or black, and each comes with colour-matching bezels, date wheels, and two strap options in rubber and fabric. If none of these appeal to you, then the integrated titanium bracelet is also available. If you were looking for a more true-to-life reinterpretation, Zenith has that too, as they have even resurrected the original A3648 (in stainless steel) as part of their Revival lineup!

The Defy Extreme Diver is a tool watch through and through

The classic Zenith movement, the El Primero 3620-SC, makes yet another appearance in the new lineup, which is great news for those who love it as much as I do! It’s a three-hand movement, but it beats at an impressive 5Hz/36,000bph and still has a 60-hour power reserve. It has consistently proven to be an incredible movement, and I’m not surprised that Zenith has kept with it all this time.

Display caseback with the El Primero 3620-SC proudly showing

Final Thoughts

Out of all the things I thought I would see for Watches and Wonders 2024, I have to say, this wasn’t exactly on my bingo card. Yet, in terms of inspired design, it ticks all of the boxes for me—except for size. I love when companies are self-referential, especially in the watch world, as it shows that they are acutely aware of their history and strive to either become stronger than or pay tribute to what came before.

The new duo of Zenith Defy Extreme timepieces

The Zenith Defy Extreme Diver is just that – a shockingly practical and well-built timepiece that is a well-deserved nod to its extremely popular historical counterpart, shown by not just its design and colour choice, but also its almost excessive levels of engineering and mechanical excellence. I sincerely hope that, when Chamath comes back from Switzerland, I’ll be able to get a hand on one of these myself, because Zenith’s direction as of late has shown an incredible amount of promise, and I’m more than happy to get on the hype train before they run out of seats!

        Reference: Defy Extreme Diver Black (95.9600.3620/21.I300)/ Blue (95.9601.3620/51.I301)

  • Case: 42.5mm diameter, 15.5mm thickness
  • Case Material: Brushed titanium with black/blue ceramic unidirectional bezel
  • Dial: Blue-toned sunray-patterned/Black-toned sunray-patterned, orange accented hands and chapter ring (Both)
  • Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water Resistance: 600 metres (60bar) with screw-down crown
  • Movement: Automatic In-House El Primero 3620-SC
  • Beat Rate: 5Hz/36,000bph
  • Power Reserve: 60 Hours
  • Bracelet/Strap: Full interchangeable strap system. Black/blue rubber with folding buckle, black/blue fabric strap with pin buckle, metal bracelet with folding clasp.

Australian Recommended Retail Price: AU $17,500

Availability: Available from Zenith Boutiques, Authorised Retailers and online at Zenith-watches.com

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