Monochrome Watches
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The Zenith Defy Revival A3648 Brings Back The 1969 Original

A nostalgic dive into Zenith's past with an accurate revival of the impressively robust 1969 Defy A3648.

| By Rebecca Doulton | 3 min read |

1969 was a milestone year for Zenith watches with the brand’s launch of the world’s first high-frequency automatic chronograph movement. Although the El Primero stole the headlines, it was not the only model Zenith had up its sleeve. With slightly less fanfare, Zenith also launched its heavy-duty Defy family with its angular octagonal case, crazy 14-sided bezel and impressive water-resistance. Nicknamed the ‘vault’, the hyper-robust case of Defy Plongeur ref. 3648 was water-resistant to depths of 600m. For 2024, Zenith presents a faithful remake of its sought-after vintage Defy Revival A3648.

Following in the footsteps of the 300m water-resistant time-and-date Zenith Defy Revival A3642 and the A3690 and A3691 Revival models, Zenith applies its revival treatment to the even beefier A3648. Faithful to the original 1969 Defy A3648, the surprising thing about this revival model is that it has a more compact 37mm diameter than the original (if the specifications on the vintage watch pages are correct) coupled with a thickness of 15.5mm and the 600m water-resistance of its ancestor.

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The angular octagonal base is identical to the original, with its wide, vertically brushed bevel and polished surface surmounted by the distinctive 14-sided bezel positioned above the bright orange rotating bezel. Faithful to the 600m water-resistant rating of the original, the screw-down crown is positioned at 4 o’clock, and the caseback is fitted with a sapphire crystal. The 600m depth rating was no mean feat back in the late 1960s and has become a symbolic number at Zenith since 600m is equal to 1,969 feet, the year the Defy A3648 was launched.

The original colour scheme is intact, and the unidirectional rotating bezel has an orange-tinted sapphire crystal insert (not Bakelite, like the original) with black markings. Orange was chosen for the original Defy Plongeur for its superior visibility during a dive. Separated by the 14-sided polished bevel, the orange colour of the rotating bezel is also featured on the chapter ring of the dial with its white hour markers treated with Super-LumiNova that emits a long-lasting green glow. Contrasting with the matte black central area of the dial, the arrow-tipped minute hand, hour hand and central seconds hand with its rectangular counterweight are outlined in orange and treated with Super-LumiNova for maximum legibility. The date window at 4:30 has a white background and is relatively discreet.

The caseback reveals Zenith Elite 670 automatic calibre with central seconds and date (with a quickset feature). Developed in the 1990s, the movement beats at 28,800vph and delivers 50 hours of power reserve. As mentioned, the caseback has a sapphire crystal insert, which grants you a look at the movement whizzing away.

Another feature fans of the vintage model will warm to is the five-link steel bracelet modelled after the original Gay Frères bracelet made for the 1969 reference. The folding clasp can be expanded to fit over a wetsuit without having to add or remove additional links. The Defy Revival A3638 will be available from Zenith’s physical and online boutiques and retails for CHF 7,400.

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