Monochrome Watches
An online magazine dedicated to fine watches

The Zenith Defy Extreme Desert Edition

The first limited edition of the strongest of the El Primero-based chronograph watches.

| By Brice Goulard | 3 min read |

As we’ve seen recently, the Zenith El Primero base calibre (and all its variations) has given birth to countless different watches, in various styles. Vintage-inspired, discreetly modern, innovative or even ultra-rugged, the emblematic chronograph movement is available in watches for most tastes. Without a doubt the most impressive of them all, the Zenith Defy Extreme is a watch with a name that says everything… it is, indeed, an extreme version of the Defy, itself already a modern and bold iteration of the El Primero. First launched as part of the permanent collection in April this year with 3 different models, Zenith comes back now with the first limited edition around this model, a desert-inspired version with surprising materials. Here’s the new Zenith Defy Extreme Desert Edition.

Presented earlier this year, the Defy Extreme is, as you can have guessed by its name, the boldest, the most robust and the most technical-looking piece in the brand’s collection. A watch that is clearly not meant for the faint-hearted, a watch that is as hi-tech visually than mechanically. Using the classic Defy style as a base, with its barrel-shaped case and integrated bracelet configuration, it adds a fair dosage of testosterone but also some elements of the past – in a rather discreet way – such as the 12-sided bezel that was once the hallmark of the vintage models. It has a massive presence on the wrist and is extremely protected all-around, but it’s also a watch of mechanical exception, with the impressive double-regulator chronograph movement inside. First presented in 3 different titanium editions – coated or not, with ceramic or gold accents – the Zenith Defy Extreme now gets its first limited edition watch, the Desert model.

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Designed together with acclaimed nature photographer Kourosh Keynejad, it has been shaped around the “beauty of the dry plateaus and mountains of sand” according to Keynejad. Being dubbed Desert Edition, this version plays on sandy and brown tones to evoke extreme environments. The 200m water-resistant case, still measuring an imposing 45mm in diameter and 15.40mm in height, is here crafted from titanium, without coating. Faceted and sharp, the surfaces are mostly brushed with polished accents to accentuate the shape of the case. What really sets this edition apart is the use of stone on the case. Indeed, the component that protects the pushers, as well as the dodecagonal bezel, are crafted from falcon’s eye, a blue-grey opaque macrocrystalline quartz gemstone that’s named after the bird-of-prey that has accompanied desert nomads for centuries. If surprising at first, its use is fairly well controlled and accentuates the edginess of the case.

In the same vein, the semi-transparent sapphire crystal dial is topped by a sand-coloured module for the sub-counters and the power reserve indicator, which is complemented by beige luminescent markers and hands as well as applied chronograph counters in a matching tone. And if the watch is delivered on a titanium bracelet and an additional black velcro strap, it will look even more relevant on the beige-coloured rubber strap that’s also included. Ps. both straps and the bracelet can be changed in a few seconds, without tools, thanks to a quick strap-change mechanism on the back of the case.

The Zenith Defy Extreme Desert Edition features the El Primero 9004 automatic calibre. This movement is equipped with two escapements, one for keeping time which runs at 36,000vph and one for the chronograph which runs at 360,000vph. The second regulating organ is to counter the huge demand for energy from the chronograph function in order to indicate elapsed time down to a hundredth of a second. When engaged, the central chronograph hand makes one full rotation per second. To keep the two independent escapements powered sufficiently, a double-barrel can store up to 50 hours when the chronograph is not engaged. The movement is rated and certified as a chronometer, tested by Time Lab.

The Zenith Defy Extreme Desert Edition is limited to 50 pieces and is now available from Zenith boutiques around the world and from the brand’s online shop. It is priced at CHF 21,900. For more details and orders, please visit

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