Beyond the classical black and silver, colours are trendier than ever in watchmaking. Blue, salmon or even green have been widely used by watch brands to dynamise their timepieces. One colour remains, however, rarely applied to horology: violet. Being the visible colour with the highest frequency (according to the concept of perceivable light), violet proved a perfect match for the ultra-fast, high-frequency 1/100th of a second El Primero calibre. Meet the new Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet.
With a frequency ranging from 700 THz to 750 THz (beyond which is invisible light, also known as ultraviolet – over 750 THz), violet has the highest frequency of all the colours that compose the visible spectrum. With its dual-escapement architecture, one beating at 5Hz and the other at the ultra-fast frequency of 50Hz, the Zenith Defy 21 is the highest frequency chronograph in regular production… Mix the highest frequency colour with the highest frequency escapement and you get this dynamic combination of fast frequencies! And for the first time in watchmaking, an automatic chronograph movement has been treated in opulent, vivid and energetic tones of violet – a bold statement that will certainly not be to everyone’s liking.
The base for this new Ultraviolet edition is well known, being the modern and innovative Zenith Defy 21. With its tonneau-shaped case and its modularity (the watch has been manufactured in multiple editions, with most materials known to watchmaking), it is the brand‘s vision of a sports watch. The case appears large, at 44mm in diameter and 14.50mm in height, yet well shaped and comfortable on account of the integrated lugs and the ergonomic strap attachments. To contrast with the vivid violet tones, the case is crafted in matte, microblasted and monochromatic titanium, resulting in a dark grey colour with almost no reflections.
A tri-compax chronograph (yet with its own specificities), the dial of the Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet combines low-key elements with the matte grey and closed sub-dials. The absence of material around these counters reveals parts of the movement and its bright colour. For instance, one of the two regulators is visible at 7.30. Hands and indexes are faceted and rhodium-plated, with decent legibility for an openworked watch. The display is composed of central hours and minutes, a small seconds at 9 o’clock and a linear power reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. The chronograph relays its information with a 60-second register at 6 o’clock, a 30-minute register at 3 o’clock and a central seconds hand that executes one rotation of the dial per second – ultra-fast, ultra-smooth and capable of measuring the 1/100th of a second.
This unique precision of the recorded elapsed times is the result of intense work on the iconic El Primero movement, which has been highly modified to meet with 21st-century standards. The timekeeping part of this automatic chronograph movement is still regulated by the signature 5Hz (36,000 vibrations/hour) escapement. However, here, the brand adds a second escapement, only responsible for the regulation of the chronograph – a cam-lever mechanism engages this secondary gear-train when the chronograph button is pressed. This escapement beats at the impressive frequency of 50Hz (360,000 vibrations/hour). This movement boasts 50 hours of power reserve (when the chronograph isn’t engaged) and is chronometer-certified by Time Lab. The back reveals a violet-coated star-shaped rotor.
To complement the bold look of the watch, the Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is worn on a black rubber strap with a violet insert that mimics the look of woven textile. It is secured by a microblasted titanium double-folding clasp. This edition of the Zenith Defy 21 is part of the permanent collection and will be priced at CHF 13,400. More details at zenith-watches.com.