Unveiling The New Zenith Defy Diver Revival

by Matt Clymo

Zenith goes back to their historical roots and revives their iconic vintage Defy Diver A3648 which served as the inspiration for many others across the years!

Back in 1969, Zenith produced the Defy Diver A3648 – a rugged and hardy diver’s watch that even by today’s standards was good. This model was an iteration of the Zenith Defy that was launched the same year, and one of the first integrated sports steel wristwatches, even pre-dating the Royal Oak. (Yes, there was a watch with the famed integrated bracelet before the RO!) Zenith produced this as a more durable and rugged version for those who needed the additional reliability, specifically divers.

An original Defy Diver A3648 from the early ’70’s. Image courtesy of watchpool24

Zenith have “revived” this piece from their archives, added it to their growing Zenith Defy Revival collection and created a faithful re-edition of this vintage piece, even down to the case shape, size, and bracelet aesthetics, complete with the screw-in crown at the 4:40 position on the case.

The new Zenith Defy Diver Revival.

The distinctive design is unmistakably Zenith, with the 37mm irregular octagon shape and the fourteen-sided bezel found in era-specific pieces, but now above the round rotating diver bezel. Zenith has even kept the bright orange colour scheme of the original, with a bright orange tinted sapphire insert (unlike ceramic found on most modern divers) and the outer track, hour, minute and seconds hand done in the same orange.

Zenith Defy Diver Revival side profile.

As with many watches of the ’60’s and ’70’s, the original Defy Diver came with a glass-box style Plexiglass insert, giving the piece a certain look. Zenith has kept this aesthetic in the Revival model but uses a more modern sapphire crystal for added durability and scratch resistance without detracting from the vintage appeal of the piece.

Like its ancestor, the 2024 Defy Diver Revival has kept the 600m depth rating, which, on a smaller 37mm cased watch with a sapphire caseback is impressive when you think about current dive watches that are 300m – 600m are for the most part all 40mm+. Another point to note is the depth rating is a significant number for Zenith as 600 metres is equal to 1’969 feet – the year the DEFY wristwatch line including the A3648 was launched!

Zenith Defy Diver Revival full view.

In another nod to its historical past, the new Defy Revival A3648 has a modernised five-link bracelet, which has been modeled after the bracelet the famed Gay Frères company had made for the historic reference in 1969. Looking at both, I’d say Zenith has done a great job on this combining both the vintage appeal with a slightly more modern look. The bracelet also comes with a deployant clasp with an extension link so it easily fits over a wetsuit.

Our Thoughts

The last few years have seen many vintage pieces brought back from the archives in either re-editions, homages or inspired from. However, few are bringing their vintage catalogue back to life in faithful re-creations like Zenith. Earlier this year we had the Chronomaster Original Triple Calendar which used the exact case patent from the 1970 proof of concept. Last year we also saw the Defy Revival 3690 paying tribute to the original 1969 model, proving Zenith is committed to taking some of their favourite pieces and bringing them to life in 2023/2024.

The new Zenith Defy Diver Revival is another of these pieces. Love or hate it, you can’t deny that this is a modern re-creation of a historical piece that looks like it was plucked from 1969 and given a 2024 overhaul with modern materials and parts. Retro and vintage enthusiasts will most likely froth over this and rightly so.

Reference: Defy Revival A3648 (03.A3648.670/21.M3648)

Specification:

  • Case: 37mm diameter, 13.6mm thickness
  • Case Material: Stainless steel with steel/orange unidirectional rotating bezel
  • Dial: Black with orange accents
  • Crystal: Sapphire crystal with anti-reflective coating
  • Water resistance: 600 meters (60bar) with screw-down crown
  • Movement: Automatic Elite 670
  • Beat Rate: 4Hz/28,800bph
  • Power Reserve: 50 Hours
  • Bracelet/Strap: Metal Bracelet

Australian Recommended Retail Price: AU $11,900

Availability: Available now at Zenith Boutiques, authorised retailers and online at Zenith-watches.com

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