Zenith Defy 21 and Defy Classic – Black and White

by Chamath Gamage
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The ever-popular Zenith Defy 21 model alongside the Defy classic gets a new look with the brand’s latest release. Zenith has opted to use black and white as an achromatic colour theme for the new Defy 21 and Defy Classic models. These models have gone through various colour iterations in the past, ranging from all-black to carbon fibre look to the more recent violet Defy 21 model.

Using black and white is almost an entire design language of its own. From being used on fashion movements, abstract art to urban building designs, the theme of black and white is simple yet intriguing. Zenith has doubled down on the bold architecture of the Defy 21 and Classic movements by applying this black and white contrast, where the movements of these watches can be seen in a more enticing manner. 

These new iterations of the Zenith Defy 21 and Defy Classic will only be available for purchase through the brand’s boutiques and online shop. 

The Zenith Defy 21 44mm case with its sleek lines has been given a black matte ceramic finish. To emphasize the contrast, the bezel is done in pure white ceramic. The black and white contrast runs deep in this timepiece. On the dial, the main plate is in black, which contrasts against the other parts of the movement.

Reference: 49.9007.9004/11.R923

We then have the two counters with their rings (since the counters have been skeletonised as well) which are done in black and white too. The 3 o’clock 30 minute counter has a white ring, with the 6 o’clock 60 second counter ring being displayed in black. The use of two separate colours for the counters does help break up the use of white in the dial and gives it a more balanced contrast look. Add to this the balance wheel adjacent to the 6 o’clock counter, and it certainly gives more emphasis on the moving parts on the dial. The only upside could have been was to use a black bezel, as the white can be a little distracting from the beautiful detail of the dial. Although, its understandable why Zenith went down this route. 

Reading the time is easier on this Defy 21 timepiece thanks to the white hour markers combined with the white superluminova coated hour, minute and chronograph seconds hand. With the skeleton dial mostly being black, it provides a nice contrasting background for the hour markers and hands to easily be able to read the time.

Reference: 49.9007.9004/11.R923

The Zenith Defy 21 Black & White is explicitly offered in black rubber with white “Cordura effect” rubber strap, that comes with a titanium double folding clasp with Black DLC coating. This strap, besides providing comfortability on the wrist, serves to nail home the black and white contrasting look. It should be noted that both the Defy 21 and Defy Classic comes with a second textured black rubber strap, for that more understated look. 

The movement used inside the Zenith Defy 21 Black & White is the same that has been used for other Defy 21 models; the El Primero 9004 automatic movement. This El Primero 9004 movement powers the 1/100th of a second chronograph feature as well as giving out a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. The movement also has two escapements, one for the main time which runs at (36,000 VpH – 5 Hz) and another escapement for the chronograph which runs at (360, 000 VpH – 50Hz).

Reference: 49.9005.670/11.R943

The Defy Classic model is very much given a similar treatment to the Defy 21 model. The main plate which features Zenith’s iconic star motif has been given a black finish, which while also making it stand out, lets the movement underneath be seen more clearly. The Defy Classic is a three-hand timepiece, which allows for the skeleton dial to do all the talking. 

The date ring which runs around the dial is clearly visible, but the downside is at first glance it can be hard to spot where the date window actually is. Placed at 6 o’clock the window is covered in white allowing only the date to show through; however, the rest of the date modules around the date ring are presented in a more subtle yet similar fashion which can make it tricky.

Much like the Defy 21 model, the Defy Classic comes in a 41mm black Ceramic case, with the bezel done in ceramic white. The white minute track on the dial blends in nicely with the bezel, making it a transition from black case to white bezel to black skeleton movement. 

Reference: 49.9005.670/11.R943

Readability of the skeleton dial is virtually a non-issue on this model as the contrast is balanced between the black main plate on the skeleton dial to the white hour markers and superluminova coated hour and minute hands. 

Zenith has retained the movement used in previous Defy Classic models in this timepiece as well, using the Elite 670Sk automatic movement. Having a frequency of 28,800 VpH (4Hz), the Elite 670 SK automatic movement gives out a power reserve of approximately 48 hours minimum. 

Zenith has offered the same “Cordura effect” rubber strap for the Defy Classic as a finishing touch to a very artistic timepiece.

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