With some watches, you get an immediate sense of how they would look and feel on the wrist based on press images, but in some cases, getting hands-on can drastically change the perception of a watch. I’ve had it happen to me several times before, to the point I loved a specific watch and bought it without trying it out at first. Then, when I put it on, there was no spark and the watch was sold again in no time. With this one, though, the dazzling Zenith Defy Extreme Mirror, it was the other way around. I didn’t think much of it at first, but seeing it in the very shiny metal, it just clicked for me! The effect is profound and all the more reason to take an up-close and personal look at it.
Zenith is a brand I hold in high regard, although I’ve not had the pleasure of owning one (yet). I have spent plenty of time with various models, though, so I feel I am in the position to at least pass some structured judgment on the watches that come out of the Le Locle-based manufacture. And that doesn’t mean I am enthusiastic about everything they do, as some are simply not to my liking. Nevertheless, this very shiny thing rattled my senses to the point I just had to go hands-on with it!
For the people who might not have been following my work on MONOCHROME, you should know I am 2.01m tall and have a slightly above-average wrist size of 19cm in circumference. That means I have little trouble wearing larger watches, so the 45mm diameter of the Defy Extreme doesn’t intimidate me one bit. I feel it befits the edgy style of this high-performance chronograph, so no complaints there. At the same time, I am well aware this might not be the same for everyone, and one thing I must admit is that it is thick! Top to bottom, it comes in at 15.4mm.
The stainless steel case has the familiar shaped look and feel, with an angular middle case topped by the signature 12-side bezel, and stout pushers and crown set-up on the right-hand side. However, the main talking point is its mirror-polished effect! The chrome-like finish grabs your attention from every possible angle, and especially under direct sunlight, it really pops, more than most watches I have recently come across!
What genuinely surprised me in handling this watch is the legibility despite the fact virtually everything is reflective, even in the openworked dial. All elements that make up the dial follow suit with the polished exterior. The outer flange with semi-floating indices, the hands, the sub-dials for the running seconds and the chronograph all have a silver or polished finish. The sapphire crystal dial has a semi-translucent metallic mirror finish, which looks very cool in real life. The much-needed contrast comes from the depth of the various elements throwing some shadows around, the Super-LumiNova stripes in the indices and hands, and the black printed numerals and logo spread around the dial. But really, it’s a rare instance where everything blends perfectly, yet you can still tell time at a glance!
Movement-wise, nothing has changed. The Defy Extreme Mirror is equipped with the same El Primero 9004 calibre that powered previous editions. To provide a bit of a break to the overall very shiny watch, Zenith has finished it in a slightly more subdued tone of silver. The star-shaped central rotor delivers the energy needed to run the watch for a maximum of 50 hours (indicated with a power reserve at noon). This complex movement is also fitted with two independent escapements. One runs at a rate of 36,000vph (5Hz) and regulates the time, while the other runs at a frequency of 360,000vph (50Hz) and regulates the chronograph down to 1/100th of a second. Hit the start pusher, and the central chronograph seconds hand starts running around the dial at breakneck speeds! A real spectacle to see.
Complementing the mirror-polished case is, you’ve guessed it, an integrated mirror-polished bracelet. The steel links all have a reflective finish, where normally you would see a contrast between polished and brushed links to enhance its overall sporty look. If the mirror-like theme becomes a bit too much, you can also tone it down with the rubber or Velcro strap (both black) that you get with it. All straps are easily swapped out thanks to the integrated interchangeability system. The price for this highly evocative iteration of the already outspoken Zenith Defy Extreme is EUR 28,000, and it is available as a non-limited edition through Zenith’s physical and online boutiques. And to be honest, it’s one of the most surprising watches I have experienced in recent times, something I could have never imagined for myself based on the initial release images!
For more information, please visit Zenith-Watches.com.