If Zenith has mostly been focusing its collections this year on chronographs and the Chronomaster collection, one has to keep in mind that the brand also has a certain expertise in high-end movements and a long involvement in chronometry. Indeed, Zenith is able to produce fusée-and-chain or double tourbillons, or even ultra-innovative regulating organs. Today, the brand is releasing new editions of two of its most advanced movements, with a contemporary approach to design and materials. Here are the new Zenith Defy Zero-G and Defy 21 Double Tourbillon in Sapphire cases, with inspiration from the stars and endless universe.
Zenith is known as one of the masters of the chronograph complication, something that is certainly visible when looking at the brand’s current collection. Whether the Chronomaster or the Defy are full of watches equipped with movements based on the brand’s emblematic architecture, the El Primero. However, there’s far more to Zenith than this expertise. The brand has long been involved in chronometry, and still is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to developing cutting-edge technologies to improve accuracy. And, even though quite confidential, the brand also knows how to make impressive and complex movements, the two best examples being the Chronograph Double Tourbillon and the Zero-G concept. And today, these two are revisited in bold, futuristic Defy cases made of sapphire, combined with a visual theme playing around a starry theme… Remember that Zenith was named after the highest star in the night sky…
Both watches share the same overall design and approach, with the same overall case of 46mm in diameter, both made from transparent sapphire crystal. Also, if the movements and displays are different, the decoration used is here – entirely visible thanks to the see-through cases – is identical. First, all the movement’s components are treated with blue PVD. The inscriptions, as well as decorative elements like miniature stars, are then engraved onto the bridges, after which, the chamfered edges of the bridges are precisely finished with a rhodium coloured PVD, creating a striking contrast.
Note: for the 20 owners of the Defy Zero-G and Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Sapphire Editions, Zenith is offering a unique experience, a parabolic zero-gravity flight. Planned to take place in February 2022, Zenith has partnered with Novespace, a subsidiary of the French National Space Center, to offer the experience of weightlessness.
Zenith Defy Zero-G Sapphire
The first of these two new models is based on a movement that isn’t new, but which is rarely seen these days in the collection, the rather unusual and unique Zero-G. This movement is based on a concept that aims, like the tourbillon, at counteracting the effect of gravity on the regulating organ. However, it doesn’t work like a tourbillon…
Instead of being held into a rotating cage, the regulating organ is fixed to a gimbal that always remains in a flat position – regardless of how the watch is rotated. The Zero-G has been used in the past, already in the Defy collection, but Zenith has entirely redesigned the movement with a new architecture to allow for a more open display. This gyroscopic module that ensures horizontal positioning of the regulating organ is also equipped with a 5Hz escapement, both supposedly guaranteeing pretty impressive chronometric results. This hand-wound El Primero 8812 S calibre is equipped with a single large barrel, which can store about 50h of power reserve when fully wound.
This Zenith Defy Zero-G Sapphire also displays traditional crafts for the dial, yet executed in a contemporary way. The off-centered dial at 12 o’clock is handcrafted in a mosaic of meteorite, aventurine glass and grand feu enamel on a gold base. It depicts the red planet Mars on the small seconds, partially eclipsed by the hour and minute dial. A special touch that can only be seen when the watch is overhead is the back of the gyroscopic module, fashioned with a cratered texture mimicking the moon. A power reserve indicator on the right side completes the display.
The back Zenith Defy Zero-G Sapphire shows an openworked movement, with the star logo being used as a base to create the bridges. All are very nicely finished, either with blue PVD with contrasting grey rhodium chamfers and speckled with white stars of varying sizes, or straight brushed with polished angles.
The Zenith Defy Zero-G Sapphire is worn on a black rubber strap with blue “Cordura effect” rubber and grey stitchings, closed by a titanium folding clasp. This is a limited edition of 10 pieces (not 50, as engraved on the movement of this prototype), priced at CHF 160,000.
Zenith Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Sapphire
The second watch offered by Zenith in this new context is based on the Defy 21 Double Tourbillon, a watch that combines a chronograph with two regulating organs, one controlling timekeeping, one (ultra-high-frequency) controlling the chronograph. The basic idea is the same as the classic Defy 21 models, yet here updated with tourbillons instead of traditional regulating organs. First, the main tourbillon, in charge of timekeeping, rotates once per minute and runs at a frequency of 5Hz or 36,000 vibrations/hour. The second tourbillon, which is engaged only when the chronograph is actuated, rotates once every 5 seconds and runs at a frequency of 50Hz or 360,000 vibrations/hour. And thanks to this, the central chronograph hand rotates around the dial at a crazy pace of one rotation per second… Meaning that it’s able to measure elapsed times to the closest 1/100th of a second.
As with the previous model, the movement of this Zenith Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Sapphire is entirely coated in blue PVD and decorated with contrasting silvered stars and polished chamfered. All the technical elements of the movement are also executed in silver, creating a technical and cold look. This watch shares the same 46mm sapphire case and a black rubber strap with blue “Cordura effect” rubber and grey stitchings. The back reveals an openworked star-shaped blue rotor and the same starry-sky decoration as the front of the watch.
The movement, Calibre 9020 – a deep evolution of the El Primero architecture – is built around two escapements, with only one running when the chronograph is disengaged. As such, the power reserve in normal conditions is 50 hours, but of course due to the ultra-high frequency of the tourbillon regulating the chronograph, it drops significantly when using the timing function.
This Zenith Defy 21 Double Tourbillon Sapphire is also a limited edition of 10 pieces and will be priced at CHF 180,000. More details at www.zenith-watches.com.