High-frequency chronographs have long been part of Zenith’s identity. It all started in 1969 when Zenith introduced one of the best and most accurate chronograph movements ever created, the iconic El Primero. Fast forward to 2017, when Zenith introduced the Defy El Primero 21, an innovative chronograph with two regulators, capable of measuring hundredths of a second. At Baselworld 2019, Zenith is back with an evolution of this watch, which is now equipped with two tourbillon regulators. Meet the technically impressive Zenith Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon.
The model we had the opportunity to go hands-on with is a 50-piece limited edition in carbon – there’s also a 10-piece platinum limited edition. Both versions are powered by the calibre El primero 9020, comprising 311 components.
This automatic movement features an original dual architecture. Most chronographs are based on a timekeeping engine to which the dedicated chronograph mechanism is engaged thanks to a clutch. Here, the timekeeping and chronograph mechanisms are entirely independent and autonomous. Each of them has its own barrel, gear train, and tourbillon regulator. Therefore there is no interaction between the timekeeping movement and the chronograph. As a consequence, when the chronograph is started and its mechanism engaged, there is no loss of amplitude (the rate of the timekeeping movement is unaffected) and no interference in energy consumption.
One sweep of the dial… per second
The timekeeping movement runs at 36,000 vibrations per hour or 5Hz and is based on the El Primero (barrel, going train, escapement). Its power reserve is of 50 hours. The chronograph movement operates at the impressive frequency of 360,000 vibrations per hour or 50Hz and required an entirely new development. It measures and displays a 1/100th of a second. Its tourbillon carriage performs one rotation every 5 seconds, driving the chronograph hand at the amazing speed of one full turn of the dial per second. The seconds are counted at 6 o’clock and the minutes at 3 o’clock. The power reserve for the chronograph is of approx. 50 minutes – which is displayed at 12 o’clock.
Check out the video at the top of this article to see the impressive motion of the two tourbillons and of the chronograph seconds hand.
The Zenith Defy El Primero Tourbillon is a large watch, with a 46mm diameter. Not surprising given the complexity of the movement and its dual architecture. It stands out with vividly technical and modern aesthetics. The angular Defy case is presented in black carbon (there is also a platinum version). The openworked dial is accentuated by a two-tone treatment. The exhibition caseback offers a nice view of the movement and its open star-shaped rotor. The case is water-resistant to 100m.
Naturally, this statement watch has a strong presence on the wrist and is quite large on the wrist. Still, it wears superlight thanks to its carbon casing. It is fitted with a Cordura-patterned blue rubber strap with a titanium/carbon folding buckle. The platinum version comes on a black rubber strap with alligator coating and is secured to the wrist by a titanium and white gold folding buckle. Price is set at CHF 119,900 in carbon and CHF 149,900 in platinum. For more information on Zenith, visit www.zenith-watches.com.