The Defy moniker represents the top of Zenith’s watchmaking game, the arena in which they push the boundaries of their watchmaking skills. It’s been attached to some seriously impressive innovations, whether that’s the LAB with its incredible new balance or the chronograph of the Defy 21.
The problem is, I’ve never been too much of a fan of these watches aesthetically. I can see why it’s been a success for the watchmaker; the extreme, skeletonised look shouts performance in the same way as an Hublot. But it wasn’t until the new Defy 21 Ultraviolet that I get it.
Where Zenith’s most recent success stories have been around their authentic archival pieces a la the recent Zenith Chronomaster Revival Manufacture Edition (more on that here), this is anything but. Based on the Defy 21, the world’s highest-frequency chronograph (sorry TAG Heuer), it takes the extreme architecture of the model and adds an overdue necessity: colour.
The violet colouring that gives the watch its name is part dial, part movement and is extraordinary to look at. It positively glares through between the chronograph subdials, particularly against the stark black-coated titanium of the big, 44mm case. On the back the finishing is even more obvious, with Zenith’s star-shaped rotor again rendered in bright purple.
Overall, The Defy 21 Ultraviolet is a small change, in most ways not really enough to be called a brand new watch. Between the striking new look and the extraordinary high frequency mechanics behind it, it’s one hell of a watch. Finally, I want a Defy on my wrist.
Price & Specs:
Model: Defy 21 Ultraviolet
Case/Dial: 44mm diameter, sandblasted titanium
Water Resistance: 100m (10 bar)
Movement: Calibre El Primero 9004 with ultraviolet finishing, automatic, 53 jewels, chronometer certified by TIME LAB
Power Reserve: 50h
Frequency: 36,000 vph (5 Hz) for the main timekeeping functions and 360,000 vph (50 Hz) for chronograph
Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds at 9 o’clock, 1/100 second chronograph, power-reserve display at 12 o’clock, central chronograph hand, 30-minute counter at three o’clock, 60-second counter at six o’clock
Strap: Black rubber strap with violet fabric-effect insert, microblasted titanium double folding clasp
Price: 13,400 CHF, available August 2020
More details at Zenith Watches.