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May 20, 2024

Zenith: the new DEFY Skyline Chronograph

We are in Geneva at one of the most important events in the watchmaking world, the Watches & Wonders. For the occasion, Zenith adds another star to the Defy constellation and presents the new Defy Skyline Chronograph.

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

THE ORIGINS OF THE “DEFY” CONSTELLATION

Zenith is associated with the El Primero movement, the world’s first fully integrated, non-modular automatic chronograph movement capable of measuring the tenth of a second at a frequency of 5 Hz (36,000 vibrations per hour). Since its introduction, the 3019 PHC, better known as the El Primero, has remained the chronograph “calibre” par excellence and a pioneering innovation in the world of haute horlogerie. It was introduced to the market in 1969, a crucial date that also marked the arrival of the Defy collection.

The history of the Defy collection began in 1969 but traces its roots back to 1902, the year Zenith introduced the “Defi” line of watches to the public. The first Defi, which was a pocket watch, went down in history as the coffre-fort (a French term meaning safe) thanks to its geometric shapes, robust construction and reliable performance. These traits became a tradition, a legacy from which the iconic reference A3642 originated.

TO THE “SKYLINE” AND BEYOND!

In 2022, Zenith boldly continues its long technical-stylistic tradition by creating a new range of luxury sports watches, the Defy Skyline. This collection represents the latest evolution of the Defy following the introduction of the Defy Classic and Extreme (presented in 2018 and 2021 respectively). The update reinterprets the traits of the historical reference A3642 in a contemporary key, manifesting new functionalities and a more modern aesthetic.

Zenith DEFY Sketch

The case is now made of stainless steel (and no longer of titanium, as in its predecessors) and has a diameter of 41 mm and a thickness of 11.6 mm, while the facetted bezel changes from tetradecagonal (as in the 1969 model) to dodecagonal. The dial, on the other hand, inherits the features of the Zenith “double Z” logo from the 1960s, and symbolises a starry sky with a “Soleil” effect shade enriched by a motif composed of engraved four-pointed stars. Last but not least, the screw-down crown with its star-shaped applied logo gives the watch a water-resistance of 10 Atm and sets new standards in terms of performance.

There have been many iterations of the Defy over the years: Extreme, Skyline Skeleton, Skyline Ceramic, Skyline Sapphire Boutique Edition (with no less than 45 baguette-cut blue sapphires set on the bezel) and even Skyline Tourbillon!

Zenith DEFY Sketch

All of them are able to master high-frequency precision and offer record time measurements, in fractions of a second or even a hundredth of a second (as the Extreme collection). This exceptional performance can be attributed to the El Primero 3620, an in-house calibre with a similar architecture to the 1/10th of a second chronograph El Primero 3600. The movement is visible through a sapphire crystal back and animates a hand displaying a “natural” oscillation (at 5 Hz) of a fraction of a second. A stop-seconds mechanism and automatic winding with a bi-directional rotor with a star motif complete the features of this extraordinary technical work from the Le Locle manufacture.

But the success of all iterations of the Skyline line does not stop Zenith from taking on new technical challenges. 

THE RISING STAR, THE DEFY SKYLINE CHRONOGRAPH

Ahead of the eagerly awaited Watches and Wonders in Geneva, Zenith is laying the foundations for a bright future by expanding the Defy constellation with a new version, the Defy Skyline chronograph.

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

Architectural, geometric and cleverly facetted, the steel case of the Defy Skyline line is a modern take on the octagonal case of the virtuoso and historic Defy, updated with a twelve-sided bezel. Its solid and resistant DNA remains unaltered and all the stylistic codes and technical sides found in its predecessors are retained.

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph
Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

In the new DEFY Skyline chronographs, we once again find these features redesigned in a 42mm case with pushers designed to follow the angular geometries of the case and a screw-down crown with an applied star logo (guaranteeing water resistance to 100 metres/10Atm).

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph
Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

The dial, which comes in three variations: blue, metallic silver and black, combines the collection’s characteristic “Soleil” effect dial with its starry vault motif and engraved four-pointed stars with the traditional configuration of the classic El Primero dial. The three slightly oversized and overlapping chronograph counters display elapsed seconds and minutes as well as continuous seconds. Inside, a circular knurled finish and outer rings in the same shade as the dial. The date window, also aligned with the dial colour, is positioned at 4:30 (an aspect dear to Zenith and the El Primero). A further element worthy of attention is near the case. This is the case middle ring, which has been designed with twelve facets, evoking the geometries of the bezel without sacrificing the correct indication of the precision scale to the tenth of a second.

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph
Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

The chronographs are powered by the in-house self-winding El Primero 3600 calibre, accurate to 1/10th of a second and oscillating at 5 Hz (36,000 vibrations per hour). The movement, visible through the screw-down sapphire crystal case back, features a star-shaped open rotor with bidirectional winding and a 60-hour power reserve.

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph
Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

CONCLUSIONS AND AVAILABILITY

All the novelties feature an integrated bracelet quick release mechanism in satin-finished steel, via two pushers on the case back, which allows natural versatility and avoids the use of other tools. Also included with the Defy Skyline chronograph is an extra rubber strap with a star pattern and folding clasp, also in steel. The novelties will be available from April 2024 in all Zenith boutiques and authorised retailers at a price of €. 12,250.

Zenith DEFY Skyline Chronograph

It is now clear to us enthusiasts and collectors that the “metonymic” starry sky together with the dreams and daring visions of Georges-Favre Jacot (founder of Zenith) have brought the manufacture in Le Locle to the “zenith” of watchmaking.

By Luca Barone