zenith extreme e race 80
Cars & motorsport

DEFY at the Races: Zenith’s Latest Collaboration Speaks to the Future of Time & Speed

Even the next-generation sport of E-racing rally driving comes with its own amounts of dust, dirt, and danger. Luckily, Zenith’s latest DEFY timepiece is ready to stand up to it all. With style.

By Mike Espindle
Executive Editor

One might be inclined to think that Zenith’s more traditional modern executions of sport chronographs based on the storied El Primero chronograph movement, like, for example, the Chronomaster Open, would be the most likely candidate from the watchmaker for motorsports alignment.

One would be wrong.

Take, for instance, the somewhat unlikely second collaboration between the Swiss watchmaker’s DEFY collection and Extreme E, the electronic rally racing championship organization.

Not only does this new timepiece project an edgy kind of modernity (which saw a glorious rebirth earlier this year), but the DEFY collection’s wonderfully clean canvas also makes for compelling executions that go from the classic to the extreme. And extreme is obviously the key word with the current 45mm DEFY Extreme E “Island X Prix,” a commemorative edition limited to just 20 pieces.

Off to the Races

As the Official Timekeeper and Founding Partner of the state-of-the-art racing series, Zenith chose the platform of its DEFY Extreme Carbon timepiece, the lightest and most rugged 1/100th of a second automatic high-frequency watch, to fold in some decidedly race-ready color themes and upcycled components for the recent Extreme E competition in the sandy dunes of Sardinia.

For the uninitiated, Extreme E competition drivers pilot next-gen electric off-road vehicles (like the Odyssey 21, which can jump from 0 to 62mph in 4.5 seconds up extreme unpaved gradients) in thrilling rally action that can only be described as Star Wars pod racing meets the Paris-Dakar rally. And the recent races in Sardinia were no exception.

The Swedish-based Rosberg X Racing team took the checkered flag in Sardinia. Led by drivers Mikaela Åhlin-Kottulinsky and Johan Kristofferson (and overseen by team founder and F1 champion Nico Rosberg), it was the team’s second win in the second season of this competition.

Extreme E CEO and founder Alejandro Agag summed it up: “I think it’s been a great success. I think we’ve really seen the Championship coming together, very few technical problems for the cars, and I think we’ve seen the best racing so far.”

An Extreme Wrist Companion

Based on the El Primero 9004 Automatic movement, the limited edition DEFY Extreme E “Island X Prix” is a chronograph that is particularly suited to the rigors and style of the next-generation rally.

Part of the Zenith Extreme E capsule collection, the 1/100th of a second timing capabilities (meaning one rotation of the chrono hand per second) meet some bold, yet restrained, use of carbon fiber on the case and bezel, both of which also feature microblasted titanium.

Moreover, equally brilliant use of sunny orange manages to not oversell the chromatic effect on the recycled-tire velcro strap (with two additional straps included in the package) and on the dial’s gauging. And finally, some DEFY-signature transparency and depth into the watch’s inner workings complete this latest execution.

Beating at a blistering 5Hz (36,000 VpH) and sporting a 50-hour minimum power reserve, if you watch the video footage included here, you’ll quickly see how toughness, precision, style, and design can figure in so prominently for the drivers. But the timepiece’s appeal and capabilities are more than ready to match the everyday “rally” of an active lifestyle.

The layered dial gives you a glimpse at the chrono power reserve at 12 o’clock, a 30-minute race-logging counter at 3 o’clock, a 60-second counter at 6 o’clock, and spinning small seconds at 9 o’clock. While designed to stand-up to the dust, dirt, and the elevation changes of rally driving, the 20 ATM water resistance and Super-LumiNova SLN C1 coating might come in handy for a celebratory dive into a cool pool when the race is over.

Pricing & Availability

Priced at $27,100, the 20-piece DEFY Extreme E “Island X Prix” limited edition is available as you read this at Zenith retailers and via the brand’s website.

(Images © Zenith)

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