It’s official; the summer season kicked off over a week ago, and if any of our readers live in Spain, you will have experienced the dramatic surge in temperature. In Andalucia, temperatures have reached 44.4°C, and here in Madrid, we are dealing with 38°C today. Excuse the odd meteorological introduction, but with such searing temperatures, the antidote, horologically speaking, is a watch with a chilled icy blue dial that conjures visions of cool pools of water. Like fashion collections, many watch brands have jumped on the seasonal bandwagon, and ice blue is fast positioning itself as the colour of summer for 2023. Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak, Bell & Ross’ BR 05 GMT, Omega’s Aqua Terra and Tissot’s PRX have taken the plunge with very pleasing results, and now Zenith dives into icy blue waters with three new renditions of its Defy Skyline.
The origins of the Defy Skyline date back to 1902 when Zenith introduced a robust line of pocket watches known as Defi. In 1969, Zenith’s release of the world’s first high-frequency chronograph movement – El Primero – somewhat eclipsed the arrival of another model known as the Defy, with a ‘y’ instead of an ‘i’. Often referred to as the “vault”, the radical architecture of the Defy bristled with angles. Its octagonal 300m (and 600m) water-resistant case, 14-sided bezel, screw-down crown and patented suspension and shock-absorbing system were a force to contend with. Although the radical architecture of the Royal Oak is always referred to as ‘the’ precursor of the luxury sports watch, it’s worth remembering that the Defy surfaced a full three years ahead of the Royal Oak…food for thought. Revived in 2022 as the Defy Revival 3642, it is the spiritual forefather of the tamer Defy Skyline collection, also introduced in 2022.
The Defy Skyline is a more moderate take on the 1969 Defy. It is a toned-down and spruced-up version of the rugged ancestor and a contender in the luxury sports watch segment without aspiring to be a vintage remake. Available in 41mm and 36mm case sizes, the 100m water-resistant case still has an octagonal base, but instead of the 14-sided bezel of the original has a 12-sided one. Using vertical brushed and polished surfaces, the dynamic architecture of the case clearly references the 1969 Defy but in a more contemporary, sleek execution.
“Summertime and the livin’ is easy”
The common denominator of all three Defy Skyline models is the attractive ice blue dial with an intriguing aligned grid pattern formed by engraved four-pointed stars – the brand logo is a star, after all – glistening against the sunray-brushed metallic dial base. All share the same flange with black minute markings and the date window at 3 o’clock. Thankfully, the background of the date window matches the colour of the dial and is as unobtrusive as possible. Other common features are the applied silver Zenith star logo at noon, the applied ruthenium-plated rectangular indices with Super-LumiNova, and the baton-shaped hands with luminescent material. All three models are delivered on a steel bracelet and come with an additional ice-blue rubber strap with a starry embossed pattern in the centre. Changing the strap is a cinch, thanks to the brand’s quick strap-change mechanism.
Defy Skyline 41mm
The 41mm Defy Skyline model has a case height of 11.6mm and is distinguished from the 36mm models by the small seconds sub-dial featured on the dial at 9 o’clock. However, it is not a traditional small seconds counter, but thanks to the high-frequency El Primero heart beating below, it tracks 1/10th of a second, making a full rotation once every 10 seconds. Probably not the easiest to consult, it is a reassuring indication of the powerful movement below deck.
Revealed on the reverse side is the EL Primero 3620 automatic high-frequency tenth-of-a-second movement based on an El Primero but without the chronograph indications. A lot of engine for a 3-hand movement, calibre El Primero 3620 beats at 5Hz/36,000vph and its single barrel, fuelled by the star-shaped rotor, delivers a power reserve of 60 hours. With such a high level of precision, the movement is equipped with a stop-seconds mechanism.
Defy Skyline 36mm
The two more compact unisex 36mm Defy Skyline models have a height of 10.4mm and come with plain bezels or bezels set with 52 icy white brilliant-cut diamonds. What sets these 36mm models apart from the 41mm, movement-wise, is that they are not powered by an El Primero offshoot but by the brand’s in-house Elite 670 automatic calibre, also found in the Defy Revival series.
Like the larger model, the 100m water-resistant case has an octagonal angular base, a 12-sided bezel and the same brushed and polished finishings. The dial features the same star-shaped pattern and date window but does not feature a small seconds counter. The central hour and minute hands, like the markers, are treated with Super-LumiNova, and the seconds are indicated by a central seconds hand with an openworked star-shaped counterweight.
Developed by Zenith in 1990 and presented in 1994, calibre 670 was conceived as a modular ultra-thin calibre with a height of just 3.47mm. Used inside many of Zenith’s time-and-date models, calibre 670 runs at 4Hz and provides 50 hours of energy. The star-shaped rotor is openworked and satin-brushed, and the movement is decorated with a contemporary sleek grey finish.
Availability & Price
The Defy Skyline 41mm is available exclusively at Zenith’s online boutique and retails for CHF 8,900; the 36mm versions are available in shops and Zenith’s online boutique (website), retailing for CHF 8,400 without diamonds and CHF 11,900 with diamonds. They are not limited editions and will form part of the regular Defy Skyline collection.
For more information and to buy a model online, please consult zenith-watches.com.