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December 02, 2022

Zenith: Defy El Primero 21

In 1969 Zenith made its stellar contribution to the chronograph saga with the El Primero an integrated automatic column-wheel mechanism beating at the high frequency of 36,000 vibrations/hour (5Hz) enabling it to reach chronometer-certified tenth of a second precision. It is to this day the world’s most accurate series-made chronograph. A new century brings new records based on the same DNA, as Zenith supercharges the performance of its speed machine. Defy El Primero 21 displays hundredths of a second by means of a central hand and beats at a frequency of 50 Hz, making it ten times faster and more accurate than its illustrious predecessor.

Representing the aesthetic, visual and audible signature of the new Defy El Primero 21, its central chronograph hand performs a full turn of the dial in one second. The frequency reaches an impressive 360,000 vibrations/hour ensuring its hundredth of a second precision, and energy consumption is ten times higher than in the original.

Defy

The new El Primero 21 movement, in-house made and remarkably equipped with its own patented balance-springs. Gravity, temperature and magnetism, the sworn enemies of precision, are thus completely neutralised.

The new balance-springs developed by the LVMH group engineers stem from a patented technology that is also a world premiere. The exceptional physical and mechanical properties of this balance-spring with its graphene matrix render it insensitive to temperature and to the influence of magnetic fields, well beyond the known 15,000 Gauss standard, thereby guaranteeing peerless precision in all conditions of use.

Alongside its integrated construction, its double-chain architecture and the remarkable chronometric performance of its new balance-springs, the El Primero 21 movement features a patented chronograph-reset control mechanism composed of three heart pieces and an exclusive starter mechanism, ensuring simultaneous resetting of the seconds as well as tenths and hundredths of a second.

Defy

This new-generation twin-barrel El Primero drives central hours and minutes functions, small seconds at 9 o’clock, a 100th of a second central chronograph hand sweeping around a scale on the circumference, a 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, seconds and tenths of a second at 6 o’clock, and a percentage indication of the chronograph power-reserve at 12 o’clock. Performed via a crown with two positions (for winding and time-setting), manual winding works in both directions: clockwise for the chronograph, counterclockwise for the watch. 25 turns of the crown are enough to obtain a 100% charge of the chronograph barrel.

The automatic watch movement is chronometer-certified by the COSC and has a 50-hour power reserve, matched by a 50-minute autonomy for the hundredth of a second chronograph.

With a 44 mm-diameter case in grade 5 titanium – inspired by the original El Primero models. Equipped with a fluted crown and chronograph pushers, the case with its short lugs displays alternating brushed and satin finishing, while its rubber strap with a leather insert is secured by a double-blade folding clasp.

Epitomising the face of the new Zenith range, the openwork dial reveals an elegant contemporary décor. A star-tipped sweep-seconds hand, large luminescent baton-type hands and facetted hour-markers: all the key identifying characteristics of the El Primero are there, along with counters picking up two of the colours – blue and anthracite grey – gracing the legendary 1969 chronograph.