Last year, Zenith revisited its 1960s Defy watches and introduced the Defy Skyline with an edgier and more architectural design. Its horological skyline has been broadened by new models launched at LVMH Watch Week 2023, held recently in Singapore.
"In just one year, the Defy Skyline has become one of the most in-demand lines for Zenith. Its strong visual identity, unique movement and effortless versatility have made it a compelling choice within the sporty steel watch segment. It's a purely modern creation that's full of details that carry on the enduring legacy of the Defy collection that goes back to 1969," said CEO Julien Tornare.
Zenith dates back around a century earlier, when Georges Favre-Jacot founded his company in 1865 and named it after the highest point in the night sky.
Defy Skyline 36mm in a faceted steel case with a twelvesided bezel.
In 1902, the Le-Locle based brand created Defi pocket watches that inspired the Defy wristwatch launched in 1969. Because of its hardy construction and reliable performance, the model was nicknamed coffre-fort (French for "vault of safe").
Besides the octagonal geometry, the design of the contemporary Defy Skyline recalls its predecessor's faceted bezel, but now with 12 sides.
With a sunburst finish, the geometrically-structured dial features a perfectly-aligned pattern consisting of engraved four-pointed stars, which are in fact a reinterpretation of the Zenith "double Z" logo of the 1960s.
A milestone year for Zenith, 1969 also saw the birth of El Primero, the world's first high frequency automatic chronograph calibre. The Swiss watch industry faced the quartz crisis in the 1970s and the El Primero went on hiatus from 1975 until 1980.
In the following decades, Zenith mastered high-frequency precision and achieved time measurements in fractions of a second. As the beating heart of Defy watches, the El Primero calibres now provide a precision of 1/10th or 1/100th of a second.
Engraved four-pointed stars form a geometric pattern on the dial with a sunburst finish.
Housed in a 41mm steel octagonal case, the Defy Skyline is powered by the El Primero 3620, which drives the 1/10th of a second hand directly from the 5Hz escapement.
The technical prowess is displayed on the small counter at 9 o'clock, where the 1/10th of a second hand makes steady jumps in fixed increments, completing one revolution every 10 seconds.
Adorned with a star motif, the automatic winding mechanism with a bi-directional rotor delivers a power reserve of approximately 60 hours.
"This year, the collection is growing with a new skeleton version featuring a bold and futuristic design, as well as a mid-size unisex version of the Defy Skyline in 36mm with some vibrant dial colours. We're really excited to witness the completion of the Defy collection with these dynamic new references," said Tornare.
An open dial is seamlessly integrated with an openworked version of the El Primero automatic movement in the Defy Skyline Skeleton.
Taking cues from modern cityscapes, the 41mm model boasts a blue or black open dial revisiting the emblematic four-pointed star, and with the 1/10th of a second counter positioned at 6 o'clock.
From left: Variations of Defy Skyline 36mm with the dial in a pastel hue; The symmetrical skeleton dial takes on the form of a fourpointed star.
El Primero 3620 SK movement with an open star-shaped oscillating weight.
The skeleton movement's main plate as well as the bridges and open star-shaped oscillating weight are finished in the same colour for a cohesive and architectural look. The different finishes combining matte, satin-brushed and polished surfaces further accentuate the movement's depth and the intensity of the colour.
The legibility is enhanced by Super-LumiNova on the applied baton hour markers as well as the central hour and minute hands.
The new 36mm Defy Skyline appeals with the dial in pastel pink or green besides metallic deep blue. Adding more architectural depth, the raised and sloped chapter ring takes on the same dodecagonal form as the bezel.
Variations of the mid-size model sparkle with brilliant-cut white diamonds on the bezel.
Zenith chooses to equip this unisex timepiece with the Elite 670 automatic manufacture movement providing a power reserve of 50 hours. Like in other Defy watches, the rotor is shaped like an open star.
The Swiss brand has also released a boutique edition of the 36mm model with the sunburst-patterned dial in ice blue while the 41mm boutique edition shimmers with twinkling rose gold accents on a grey dial.
The starry pattern also appears on rubber straps that can be easily swapped with a steel bracelet, thanks to the ingenious quick strap-change mechanism.