The Optical Magic Of The Zenith Defy Extreme Felipe Pantone
Radial holograms and iridescence light up the dial of this extraordinary collaboration between Zenith and contemporary artist Felipe Pantone.
Zenith’s Defy Extreme is precisely that: an extreme version of the standard Defy model with a larger angular case and bolder design cues. By extension, you could say that contemporary artist Felipe Pantone also has a very fitting name since we all associate Pantone with the universal language of colour and his artworks and installations are heavily imbued with colour. Marking the brand’s fourth collaboration with Felipe Pantone, the Defy Extreme gets an iridescent makeover with dizzying optical effects. Released in a limited edition of 100 pieces, Zenith’s dynamic and cutting-edge Defy Extreme 1/100th of a second chronograph and its deep, plunging dial provided the ideal canvas for the artist Felipe Pantone.
Based in Valencia, Spain, where he obtained a degree in Fine Art, the Argentine-born artist Felipe Pantone (1986) is renowned for his boldly coloured kinetic works, graffiti and installations inspired by Op Art elements. At the intersection of technology and fine art, Pantone’s particular universe is inspired by kinetic artists like Victor Vasarely and Carlos Cruz-Diez. Having collaborated with Zenith on a multi-coloured tarpaulin with digital graphics for the façade of the manufacture in 2020, followed by a special edition of the Defy 21 in 2021 (see below) and a unique piece for the Only Watch charity auction, the artist is back for a fourth collaboration with this Defy Extreme Pantone. Inspired by Pantone’s series, “Planned Iridescence”, the artist combines bold colours, holograms and metallic elements to create fantastic optical illusions.
The Defy Extreme collection surfaced in 2021 and took the already defiant Defy into even more radical terrain with a massive 45mm case with a thickness of 15.4mm bristling with sharp edges, angles and a 12-sided plinth beneath the bezel. Combined with skeletonised dials and fitted with the El Primero 9004 calibre, this remarkable 1/100th of a second chronograph stands out from the crowd with its two escapements – one beating at 360,000vph for the chronograph and the other at 36,000vph for the time.
Crafted entirely in mirror-polished stainless steel, the sharp lines and pronounced angles of the 200m water-resistant Defy Extreme case encounter a groovy translucent blue colour shielding the chronograph pushers and bezel plinth. The blue colour is crafted from YAS (yttrium aluminosilicate), a crystalline glass material comparable to synthetic sapphire, a colour that is echoed on the translucent blue silicone strap. The markings on the corners of the case – FP#1 – are shorthand for “Felipe Pantone El Primero”.
The spectacular, ever-changing metallic hues and iridescent emissions of the dial are signature Felipe Pantone. To obtain these fascinating interactions, the transparent sapphire disc used as the dial base features micro-engraved patterns obtained through a physio-chemical process. The grooves catch and reflect the light producing an iridescent effect.
To highlight the chronograph counters, the 30-minute totaliser at 3 o’clock features a graduated scale of colours, each colour representing a minute, while the 60-second counter at 6 o’clock has fine concentric black and white lines producing a moiré effect. Using the same 3D PVD technique as the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone, the hour and minute hands and the star-shaped rotor reflect a gradient of metallic rainbow tones.
Completing the functions on the dial, there is a running seconds counter at 9 o’clock and a linear power reserve indicator at noon. Both the power reserve hand and the central chronograph seconds hand with its Zenith star counterweight have bright blue tips. And just in case you are dazzled by the display of colour and light, the applied indices and the spines of the hour and minute hands are treated with Super-LumiNova.
Zenith El Primero 9004
Since 1969 and the launch of the El Primero calibre, Zenith has been a forerunner of high-frequency chronographs. The El Primero calibre 9004 powering the chronograph is capable of displaying 1/100th of a second, which means that the central chronograph hand can whizz around the dial in one second and still offer extreme precision. To counter the huge demand for energy required to display the 1/100th of a second, calibre 9004 is equipped with two escapements: one for keeping time, running at 5Hz and the other for the chronograph, running at 50Hz. To ensure there is sufficient petrol in the tank to power both escapements, there is a double barrel with 50h capacity when the chronograph is not engaged. The movement is rated and certified as a chronometer, tested by Time Lab.
Bracelet & Straps
Like other Zenith Defy Extreme models, the watch comes with a practical strap exchange system on the caseback that requires no tools and is delivered with a blue silicone strap, a fully polished steel bracelet and a black Velcro strap. The Defy Extreme Felipe Pantone is delivered in a special box that looks like an art book with a design by the artist from his “Planned Iridescence” series with a transparent plexiglass hardcover.
Availability & Price
The Defy Extreme Felipe Pantone is a limited and numbered edition of 100 pieces and will be available at Zenith’s physical and online boutiques from 27 October at 14:00 CET. The retail price is CHF 29,900.
For more information, please visit Zenith-watches.com.
Bit of a guilty pleasure, this.
So wrong I like it.