Zenith Introduces The DEFY Extreme Collection, The Colorful DEFY 21 Spectrum Series, And Icons Program
Zenith expands two of its collections and introduces a new program.
Let’s begin with a recap: Zenith has already had an impressive record with new watch launches in 2021. At LVMH Watch Week in January, Zenith announced the all-green DEFY 21 Urban Jungle. In March, there was a collaboration with Argentinean-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone, the Zenith DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone. And that 100-piece edition sold out within 24 hours.
While it has been a busy and fruitful time for Zenith, the brand kept its Watches & Wonders 2021 announcements focused on the introduction of the DEFY Extreme, the extension of the DEFY 21 family with the new Spectrum series, and its Zenith Icons program.
The DEFY Extreme
On day three of Watches & Wonders, Zenith presented the new DEFY Extreme. Built around the legendarily accurate-to-1/100th-of-a-second El Primero chronograph, the new Extreme models have supercharged the DEFY collection’s design codes, accentuating its architecture and details in a larger 45mm titanium case.
“The character of the DEFY Extreme comes from its sharp titanium case, faceted and carved like a boulder in a storm,” said Zenith designer Sébastien Gobert in a press release. "We wanted to make the DEFY design even more futuristic and assertive.”
The DEFY Extreme comes in three versions: one in micro-blasted matte titanium, one in titanium with a brushed finish, and another in rose gold and micro-blasted matte titanium. Moreover, each version comes with three quick-change strap options: rubber, micro-blasted titanium, and Velcro.
Transparency is a big trend at Watches & Wonders 2021. For example, the DEFY Extreme has a sapphire dial and sapphire crystal caseback, so you can admire the exemplary mechanics of the El Primero movement from both sides. However, with the Extreme, Zenith seems to be moving slightly away from the full-skeletonized treatment. For example, the sapphire under the chrono sub-dials has been tinted to improve legibility.
Another trend alert: 12-sided cases and bezels are also a big deal at Watches & Wonders 2021. The front of the watch also features an angular dodecahedron-shaped bezel. Heritage is important to Zenith and this detail, while very futuristic looking, is actually a call back to 1970s-era chronographs.
The DEFY Extreme will be available in May. The titanium models are priced at $18,000 and the rose gold and titanium version is $22,000.
The DEFY 21 Spectrum Series
Zenith is no stranger to pairing high-frequency movements and hues. After all, who can forget 2020’s DEFY 21 Ultraviolet, which took its inspiration from a super intense purple that claims to be the color with the highest frequency. These limited editions were a hit with collectors, and the brand quickly followed up with a DEFY 21 Pink Edition.
Now the manufacture continues to explore these themes of shade and light with the DEFY 21 Spectrum collection. These chronographs incorporate natural colors everywhere but on the dial.
Forty-four baguette-cut gemstones — green tsavorite for the green edition, orange sapphire for the orange edition, blue sapphire for the blue edition, amethyst for the purple edition, and black spinel for the black edition — have been added to the bezel for extra brilliance. The movements are also tinted to match the gemstone through an innovative pigmentation process. Plus, the color of each model's rubber strap is the same as the gemstone to complete the look.
There is one common design element that all five models share: a 44mm stainless steel case set with 288 brilliant-cut white diamonds. And the reflecting sparkle of the diamonds amplifies the vibrancy of the model color for a dazzling effect.
This DEFY 21 series has been named Spectrum after the range of colors produced by the different wavelengths of visible light. Most humans can perceive only seven distinct colors in the spectrum: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.
So far, the Spectrum collection consists of only five models that take on different frequencies of visible light (the brand is counting black as a color, though technically, it is a shade, not a color). But hopefully, red, yellow, and indigo models will be released in the not-so-distant future.
Like the Felipe Pantone, the DEFY 21 Spectrum uses its color palette to create a kind of kinetic art, powered by the El Primero 21 movement, Zenith’s revolutionary chronograph that beats at the astonishing rate of 50Hz (360,000 VpH). This high-frequency mechanism is the fastest chronograph in production, and it is the only one that can accurately measure and legibly display time in 1/100th-of-a-second increments.
The DEFY 21 Spectrum series will be available in June and limited to 10 pieces in each color. It is priced at $35,900 and will be available exclusively at Zenith boutiques around the world.
The brand’s other big Watches & Wonders announcement is the Zenith Icons program: A bid to preserve the company’s most important historical references by allowing watch collectors an opportunity to own a piece of watchmaking history.
Here’s how it works: Zenith is currently tracking down the finest, most well-preserved examples of its most important historical references. Once found, the Zenith team works with the Heritage Department to research its history and ensure all the components are genuine. Fortunately, Zenith has an archive that spans the history of production, making it possible to identify and authenticate even the smallest component of any watch it has ever built.
Once the Heritage Department approves a timepiece, the Zenith purchases it then turns it over it to the Heritage team in Le Locle, who conduct further inspections and any necessary restorations. Once the work is completed and certified, these historic timepieces will be sold exclusively at Zenith’s boutiques.
In a press release for the program, Zenith CEO Julien Tornare said, “We are bridging the past with the future by celebrating Zenith’s rich history and the references that have become true icons of watchmaking. We are acquiring historical timepieces from sources who have cherished them for a very long time and allowing others the opportunity to enjoy them. These rare pieces can now embark on a second life using existing resources at the Manufacture, and I’m excited to share these pieces of history with our customers. This is just the beginning!”
Zenith invites its customers to discover and shop some of its most significant creations from the comfort of a Zenith boutique and experience the peace of mind in knowing there is no doubt about the watch’s provenance and that that it was restored faithfully by the manufacture.
The project was piloted at the Zenith boutique in Ginza, Tokyo, in October 2020 and is expected to roll out to locations around the world over the coming months.