zenith defy lab

In-Depth with the Latest Additions to Zenith’s Lab Collection

Zenith premiered two new hits at Baselworld 2018. Let’s take a closer look.

By Rhonda Riche

In 2017, Zenith made a huge splash at Baselworld 2018 with the Defy El Primero 21, the amazing technological advances of the Defy LAB and two updates of its famous Pilot watch. This year, the brand kept up it’s defiant direction with two new lines: The Defy Classic (a cleaner, three-hand take on The Lab’s audacious design) and the Zero-G, which continues the brand’s focus on innovation.

And for the second year in a row, the reaction to the new Defy’s was enthusiastic. How did the brand manage to have another championship season? Let’s take a look at how Defy is becoming the brand’s most important collection.

Instant Classics

Much was made of Zenith’s Defy Lab’s super-high-frequency oscillator — when it was introduced in 2017. But the futuristic architecture of the case was another, irresistible feature.

With the Defy Classic, that boldness is stripped down a little, mechanically and stylistically, for a sportier timepiece. It’s a three-hand plus date watch with an ultra-light, 41 mm titanium case. It comes with either an openwork dial showcasing a blackened skeleton movement or a closed, sunray dial with your choice of wither metal, leather or rubber bracelet.

The reason the Classic is a hit is that it’s accessible on so many levels: priced between $5,900 (strap), $6,900 (bracelet), $6,500 (open worked on strap), $6,700 (open worked on bracelet) it’s affordable; the smaller size is appealing to a broader audience and it has an advanced Zenith Elite movement while still being a practical everyday watch.

Defying Gravity

On the other end of the spectrum, Zenith is calling its new Defy Zero-G, futuristic Haute Horlogerie. Building on the technological advances of the Defy El Primero 21, the only high-frequency automatic chronograph designed to measure hundredths of a second, the Zero-G has the added element of a gyroscopic “Gravity Control” module.

Zenith first developed this self-regulating device in 2000. The module is designed to cancel the effects of gravity by holding the regulating organ and balance wheel in a horizontal position. For the Zero-G, Zenith took it a step further by thinning it down to use 30% less room. Inside beats the manual-winding El Primero 8812S caliber with 324 components (139 for the gyroscopic carriage alone) and a 50-hour power reserve.

It’s not a complication that one needs every day, but it is an unusual one that tickled the fancy of many watch geeks at Baselworld. You can observe the module in motion at 6 o’clock. And with its geometric 44mm titanium or pink gold case, it’s both technologically advanced and fashion forward. It also comes with an integrated bracelet that matches the case metal or a rubber strap coated with alligator leather.

While the Zero-G isn’t for everybody (and it won’t be for anyone until it is officially released later this year), the buzz at Baselworld is that even if you couldn’t picture yourself wearing it, you could still admire the idea of it.

(Photography by Liam O’Donnell)

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