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Watches and Wonders 2024: Zenith Unveils New DEFY Watches

Zenith Defy Extreme Diver Cortina Watch Featured Image

Since its inception in 1969, the ZENITH DEFY line of wristwatches has been all about steadfast reliability and ruggedness.

Throughout the years, the DEFY has taken on many iterations with purpose-built features and designs. From the highest peaks to the wildest terrains, ZENITH is now taking the collection back to the deepest depths with the new DEFY Extreme Diver, as well as a remake of one of the most sought-after vintage ZENITH diver’s watches, the DEFY Revival A3648.

With a legacy going as far back as 1969, the DEFY Diver was in fact among the earliest DEFY wristwatch offerings. Keeping the collection’s distinctive design with its signature angular case and dodecagonal bezel, ZENITH incorporated all the necessary elements to create a diver’s watch, including a rotating bezel and bright colour accents for instant readability underwater. With the same ethos of combining form and function for a specific purpose, ZENITH is now unveiling a modern diver’s watch inspired by both historical DEFY diver’s references as well as the modern incarnation of the DEFY line, notably the DEFY Extreme. The result is a feature-packed diver’s watch that is obviously and inherently a ZENITH DEFY, built to withstand the extreme conditions encountered in the harshest environments where ice, mist and deep dark waters require enhanced performance and legibility.

DEFY Extreme Diver

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While inspired by a long line of DEFY divers from 1969 onwards, the DEFY Extreme Diver is as modern as they come. Its singular and highly intricate design serve to enhance its depth-defying performance, which was conceived to take on extreme conditions where ice, water and mist present a host of challenges. Its 42.5mm angular case is crafted in titanium, a metal that not only boasts a significant weight-to-strength ratio but is also highly resistant to corrosion from salty seawater. The case is equipped with a helium escape valve for saturation diving. Above the fixed dodecagonal bezel, the ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel features grooved edges for a better grip when operating – even with gloves on. The bezel is engraved and filled with Super-LumiNova and bright colours for effortless reading underwater where light is scarce.

The oversized screw-down crown feature is protected by titanium crown-guards on either side. Just like the historical DEFY A3648 from 1969, the DEFY Extreme Diver is rated to 600 metres (60 ATM) of water-resistance, which happens to be 1’969 feet – a symbolic number for the DEFY diver. It meets the ISO 6245 requirements for professional diver watches, which include ISO 764 for paramagnetism as well as ISO 1413 for shock-resistance, making it a comprehensive diver’s watch suited to the most demanding conditions.

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Something of a signature in the contemporary DEFY line, the dial features a geometric pattern of engraved four-pointed stars. Available in black and blue with matching ceramic bezels, the metallic dials feature a sunburst finish, with rays emanating from the applied ZENITH star at 12 o’clock. The date at 3 o’clock is colour-matched to the dial.

Legibility is a key factor in the DEFY Extreme Diver – and it shows. The dial’s oversized hands and applied hour markers feature three different pigments of “X1” grade Super-LumiNova with light emissions in blue, green and orange, making it easy to distinguish between the functions (hours, minutes and seconds). The bright orange accents are a nod to historical DEFY diver models.
The DEFY Extreme Diver is powered by the El Primero 3620-SC automatic high-frequency manufacture calibre with 60 hours power reserve, visible through a sapphire display back – an uncommon feature among diver’s watches. This version of El Primero features a paramagnetic escapement with key components in non-metallic silicon.

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Completing the DEFY Extreme Diver is its titanium three-link bracelet as well as two supplied straps. The first additional strap is in FKM rubber, matching the dial colour with a Cordura-effect texture that features vents on the side, allowing water to pass through. For more professional uses, the DEFY Extreme Diver also comes with an extra-long strap that’s meant to be worn over a wetsuit, with specific end-pieces to pass the single-piece strap through and under the case for a secure fit.

The DEFY Extreme Diver with blue and black dials are available from all ZENITH boutiques and authorized retailers around the world.

DEFY Revival A3648

One of the greatest sources of inspiration when creating the DEFY Extreme Diver was the DEFY reference A3648. Originally launched in 1969, it presented an alternative take on ZENITH’s avant-garde and rugged steel bracelet watch with a specific purpose. The A3648 was not only among the earliest DEFY wristwatch models, but also one of the first DEFY diver’s watches. Even by today’s standards, the A3648 boasted incredible performance in a watch that seamlessly merges style and substance.

In ZENITH’s recent tradition of bringing back its most emblematic past references, the DEFY Revival A3648 represents the first time ever that a vintage ZENITH diver’s watch receives the Revival treatment.

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A distinctive signature of the original DEFY line, the DEFY Revival A3648 features a highly angular stainless steel case measuring 37mm in diameter. The steel fourteen-sided bezel present in DEFY models from the same era is still present but positioned above the round rotating bezel. Crafted in steel, the unidirectional rotating bezel features a sapphire crystal insert instead of Plexiglas as in historical models, with the same black on bright orange markings – one of the historical A3648’s most coveted features.

The black and orange theme extends to the dial, where the matte black surface is contrasted with orange hands and minutes track. The hour markers as well as the hands are filled with white Super-LumiNova that emits a bright and long-lasting green glow.

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With its screw-down crown at 4 o’clock and a sapphire display back, the DEFY Revival A3648 retains the same depth rating of 600 metres (60 ATM), a considerable feat to have achieved in 1969 and still an impressive rating for such a compact diver’s watch with a sapphire back. A symbolic number for ZENITH, as 600 metres is equal to 1’969 feet – the year the DEFY wristwatch line including the A3648 was launched. The case back offers a view of Elite 670 automatic manufacture movement, with a power reserve of 50 hours.

And just like the original, the DEFY Revival A3648 comes on a five-link steel bracelet with folding buckle, modelled after the bracelet the famed Gay Frères company had made for the historic reference in 1969. The deployant buckle features an expansion to allow the watch to be worn over a wetsuit without having to add or remove additional links.

The DEFY Revival A3648 is available from all ZENITH physical and online boutiques as well as authorized retailers around the world.

DEFY Skyline Chronograph

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The DEFY Skyline constellation is finally complete. A natural continuation and expansion of ZENITH’s edgy, all-occasions line, the new DEFY Skyline Chronograph offers a new vessel for the Manufacture’s latest iteration of the El Primero automatic high-frequency chronograph calibre, endowed with a 1/10th of a second chronograph function.

Looking back at the legacy of the DEFY collection of wristwatches, there’s a long and enduring tradition of El Primero chronographs within the line from as far back as the early 1970s. A modernistic vessel for a groundbreaking calibre, the DEFY has always been perfectly suited for the El Primero automatic chronograph, whose high-frequency rate allows it to provide unwavering precision – even in highly animated and dynamic situations. With the same penchant for movement and performance in a wide range of settings, the new DEFY Skyline Chronograph is the culmination of over 50 years in elevating the chronograph to new heights. In essence, it is the DEFY chronograph of the 21st century – and it shows.

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Architectural, geometric and intricately faceted, the DEFY Skyline’s 41mm steel case is a modernized take on the earliest DEFY’s octagonal case with a multi-sided bezel. Retaining the same DNA of robustness and durability as its predecessors while bringing an edgier and more contemporary aesthetic and proportions. In the DEFY Skyline Chronograph, the pushers follow the sharply drawn lines of the case, while the screw-down crown emblazoned with the star emblem helps ensure a water-resistance of 100 metres (10ATM).

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Available in metallic black, blue or silver, the DEFY Skyline Chronograph’s dial pairs the collection’s signature starry sky-patterned dial featuring engraved four-pointed stars with the traditional El Primero dial configuration. Three slightly oversized and overlapping counters show the elapsed seconds and minutes of the chronograph, as well as the constant running seconds. The date window – matching the colour of the dial – is positioned at 4:30, another El Primero signature. The flange ring with the 1/10th of a second scale has twelve facets, the form of the dodecagonal bezel and serving as extensions of the hour markers.

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In an ever-faster moving world, every fraction of a second counts. Just like in the DEFY Skyline automatic model and its skeleton counterpart, ZENITH continues to offer the 1/10th of a second function found, now in the form of a 1/10th of a second chronograph in the DEFY Skyline Chronograph. This mechanical feat is the result of the El Primero 3600 calibre’s high-frequency rate of 5Hz (36’000 vibrations per hour), visible through the display back. Its open star-shaped oscillating weight with bidirectional winding efficiently provides a power reserve of 60 hours.

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One of the highlights of the DEFY Skyline is its integrated quick strap-change mechanism integrated directly into the case, allowing for effortless versatility without requiring any tools. With the simple push of a button, the three-link steel bracelet can be swapped with the supplied star-patterned rubber strap with steel folding buckle.

The DEFY Skyline Chronograph is available from all ZENITH boutiques and authorized retailers.

Discover more exciting creations from Zenith at our boutiques, or online.