2021 Zenith Defy Felipe Pantone Revealed

by Chamath Gamage
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Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone has undoubtedly reached his star in becoming one of the brightest talents in contemporary art. Felipe Pantone’s work is polarized, and never lets the observers be indifferent. The art lovers and ones with an eye for radical design are drawn to his work thanks to his unique touch. Zenith and Felipe Pantone started their collaboration back in 2020, with the Zenith manufacture offering the facade of the main building as a canvas for the contemporary artist. 

This year, Felipe Pantone has reimagined the Swiss brand’s most advanced and loved chronograph to date, creating a very unique timepiece that was already a feat in exceptional watchmaking. 

Limited to just 100 pieces, the collaboration with Felipe Pantone has yielded the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone limited edition, a timepiece that is bold and beautifully colourful, while playing with all the right frequencies – both visually and mechanically. The contemporary artist is able to showcase his “visible spectrum concept” on the canvas of the Defy 21 model, where the timepiece is already stripped down to the bare minimum to show the beating heart underneath. 

In regards to this collaboration, Felipe Pantone states that “I’m thrilled and humbled to be able to give my personal touch to a watch for the first time, and especially with a manufacture that I deeply admire for its innovation and daringness. From the start, the concept was to transform this spectacular piece of watchmaking into a wearable work of kinetic art, where time and light converge into a single object. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.”


The Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone limited edition comes presented in a 44mm black ceramic case that helps contrast the beautiful workings of the dial. The bezel design is certainly a first for Zenith. Felipe Pantone has given the bezel a dynamic overhaul by giving it a grid pattern design, that is engraved onto the bezel. The lettering “FP#1” is engraved onto the four corners of the case, with the lettering meaning “Felipe Pantone El Primero”, a way to express this unique collaboration. 

The dial design is where Felipe Pantone’s unique touch is truly expressed. To execute the artist’s vision, Zenith had to push the boundaries of innovation and develop new techniques in watchmaking when it came to creating the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone limited edition. One of these never-before-seen features is the multi-coloured bridges, which resembles a signature trait of Pantone’s work. 

To create this multi-coloured effect, the principle of interference colours has been used, where the coating on the bridges will reflect a gradient of metallic rainbow tones. To create this artistic masterpiece required months of trials to find the solution to creating this rainbow effect. The end result is that the DEFY 21 Felipe Panton is the first watch in the world to use this innovative kind of three-dimensional PVD with silicon particles as a surface treatment on a movement to produce a spectrum of perfectly transitioning colours. Although Zenith has standardised this process to be able to create more than one model, each timepiece will have slightly different colours, making each watch a unique art piece. 

The hour hands are rhodium-plated with a “Rainbow” varnish finish that perfectly matches the rainbow coloured finishes throughout the dial. The central hour and minute hand have been given a distorted look, resembling that of lightning bolts that feature on much of Felipe Pantone’s work. The same extraordinary process that was used to created the multi-coloured bridges is used to created the multi-coloured hands. 

The unique shape of the hands as well as the intricate application of the colour gradient PVD so that the colours transition smoothly between the different segments of the hands was a very hard process to achieve, more-so than the designers or anyone could have anticipated. But the engineers and Zenith didn’t give up and refused to compromise on even the tiniest details to achieve the remarkable finished product. 

Movement :

Zenith has used the El Primero 9004 automatic movement inside the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone limited edition. The El Primero 9004 automatic produces a frequency of 36, 000 VpH (5 Hz) and gives out a minimum power reserve of approximately 50hours. The movement powers the watches functions of 1/100th of a second chronograph, chronograph power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock, small seconds at 9 0’clock, 30 minute counter at 3 o’clock and 60 second counter at 6 o’clock. 

Final Thoughts:

To match the grid style bezel and the very artistic dial, Felipe Pantone has opted to use a black textured rubber strap that features a warped grid motif. This perfectly complements the overall look of the timepiece, however, if it’s still not to your liking, then a second rubber strap is offered, where there is a central insert in the strap that when viewed from different angles, goes from the dark grey colour through the different colours of the spectrum.

With the launch of the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone 100-piece limited edition, Zenith cleverly combines contemporary art and watchmaking to produce both a precision instrument and a dynamic, water-resistant artwork. The DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone will be available in Zenith boutiques and Zenith online stores around the world on March 15, 2021.

Zenith Defy Felipe Pantone Specification:

  • Reference: 49.9008.9004/49.R782
  • Case: 44 mm
  • Case Material: Black ceramic
  • Dial: Openworked
  • Crystal: Sapphire, domed on both sides, anti-reflective coating inside
  • Water resistance: 100 meters
  • Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic
  • Power reserve: minimum of 50 hours
  • Strap: Black Rubber. Titanium double folding clasp with black DLC coating. A second rubber strap is offered with a central insert that goes from dark grey to a flash of all the colours in the spectrum, depending on the angle of light as a result of iridescence caused by the surface of the material and how it reflects light.
  • Finishes: “Rainbow” PVD-coated bridges. Black laser engraved main plate on movement. Special black coloured oscillating weight with satined finishings.
  • Hour markers: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with “Rainbow” varnish
  • Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted and “Rainbow” PVD coated
  • Functions: 1/100th of a second chronograph functions. Chronograph power- reserve indication at 12 o’clock. Hours and minutes in the centre. Small seconds at 9 o’clock, Central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 60- second counter at 6 o’clock

International Pricing: 18,900 CHF

Availability: LE 100 pieces, Boutique Exclusive/ E-commerce

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