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Zenith Defy Classic – Smaller, More Affordable, Still Bold

The bold Zenith Defy now with a smaller case and a more traditional movement

| By Brice Goulard | 3 min read |
Zenith Defy Classic - Baselworld 2018

In 2017, Zenith relaunched the DEFY collection and impressed us with the Defy El Primero 21, a hundredth-of-a-second chronograph with a 50Hz ultra-high-beat escapement dedicated only to the chrono. But that was not all. Later that year came the Defy LAB with its revolutionary and unprecedented oscillator – marking a real innovation. And finally, there was the new design, with an integrated case and bracelet, a large diameter and bold shapes. For Baselworld 2018, the design is kept but with more simplicity movement-wise – but not that simple either. Meet the Zenith Defy Classic.

Zenith Defy Classic - Baselworld 2018

The Zenith Defy collection represents modernity and innovation. It can be seen in the materials, in the technical solutions, and in the design. The Defy is bolder, yet it also remains true to some of the brand’s signature codes. It is the laboratory for innovative solutions – and remember that Zenith has always been an innovator, as the El Primero was not only one of the very first automatic chronographs but also one of the very few high-beat movements. So when the Defy collection was relaunched last year, it was no surprise to see it equipped with high-tech movements and materials, such as the ones found on the Defy El Primero 21 and the Defy LAB.

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Zenith Defy Classic - Baselworld 2018

For Baselworld 2018, the collection expands with two new references. The first one is a complex tourbillon piece, the Zero G. The second one looks at the other side of the spectrum, with a more simple three-hand movement, the Zenith Defy Classic. In terms of design, this new variant sticks to the style introduced in 2017. A shaped titanium case with integrated lugs and bracelet/strap – regarding this shape, we can see a certain Hublot-ish inspiration, or at least, some of the iconic luxury sports watches of the 1970s – which measures a more reasonable 41mm diameter x 10.75mm height – compared to the 44mm of the Defy El Primero 21.

The case alternates between brushed and polished surfaces and will be available in different configurations: titanium bracelet, rubber strap or leather/rubber strap. Also, two different dials will be available. The first is a classical plain dial, in sunray blue. The second is a fully skeletonised version, with no dial except the peripheral inner flange with seconds and hour markers. The main plate of the movement on this skeleton version is shaped like a five-armed star, reminiscent of the Zenith logo.

Zenith Defy Classic - Baselworld 2018

Beating inside is a Manufacture Zenith movement – the automatic Elite 670 base calibre – reinterpreted in Defy mode. For the very first time, this Elite movement is fitted with a silicon pallet lever and escape wheel, which is revealed by means of modern openworked bridges. Blackened, structured and topped by a cut-out date disc read off on a white dot at 6 o’clock, it oscillates at 4 Hz and enjoys over 50 hours of autonomy. The date aperture of the sunburst blue dial is placed in a more classical position at 3 o’clock.

Prices range from CHF 5,900 (closed dial on rubber) to CHF 7,500 (skeleton, full titanium). More details on

3 responses

  1. Visually this watch doesn’t look any better than some of the skeletonized Japanese Orient watches for a tiny fraction of the price, Of course in terms of the movement there is no comparison, But I’d want the watch to LOOK a whole lot better at this level and for the money. Sorry, but there it is. It’s ugly design, just like that atrocious red Hublot creation and yes, even some of the recent Richard Mille and AP offerings.The overall look, regardless of the pedigree of the brand, is that of a cheap fashion watch.In which case, I’d rather buy one of those, We all have different tastes for sure, but I’d have to be blinded by brand or technology to think that this is an object of desire on my wrist.Flowery descriptive language like ” A shaped titanium case with integrated lugs…” makes it sound wonderful, but come on, look at it. It’s like looking down at the superstructure of a car park or shopping mall from the 7th floor. The Zenith Defy collection represents the ugliness of modernity and innovation to me. Remember when watches were beautiful and elegant in addition to being technical marvels? To their credit, Zenith gives us a choice of dials and the technology and development of the mechanism is to be applauded. But for goodness sake, please stop making ugly watches!

  2. Beautiful watch, especially the skeleton version. Takes a few cues from the Royal Oak like virtually all high-end sports watches but with a much more modern and innovative look. So many watch enthusiasts want the same thing over and over, and anything that doesn’t look exactly like a Royal Oak is “ugly”. So the watch houses copy it over and and over. The Girard Perregaux Laureato is a particularly shameless copy. So glad Zenith has the courage to still innovate esthetically and technologically.


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