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04/01/2019
 4 minutes

Zenith: A Love for Precision and High-Tech Materials

By Pascal Gehrlein
Zenith: A Love for Precision and High-Tech Materials

Zenith: A Love for Precision and High-Tech Materials

Zenith, the brand with the star, has a reputation among watchmakers as the “precision fanatic.” This is partially due to their penchant for using high-tech materials, including carbon. Zenith has now made their revolutionary oscillator more accessible with the release of the DEFY Inventor. The DEFY El Primero 21 Carbon blends a legendary caliber with 21st-century technology, and the El Primero Revival trilogy leaves watch enthusiasts in a nostalgic stupor.

DEFY Inventor

When Zenith first brought the revolutionary “Zenith Oscillator” to the table in 2017, the experts were blown away. What made it so special? The ZO 342 caliber lacked a typical escapement with a balance wheel and balance spring. Instead, it featured a mono-crystalline silicon escapement that vibrates at an astounding 108,000 A/h, making the DEFY three times more precise than other watches on the market. The catch? At the time, they released just 10 watches with this new technology.

With the launch of DEFY Inventor, Zenith has made their Oscillator accessible to a larger number of interested parties. According to Zenith, the production run numbered in the hundreds this time around. The DEFY Inventor is powered by the ZO 9100 caliber, which boasts a 50-hour power reserve. The 0.5-mm Oscillator makes the movement highly resistant to changes in temperature and magnetic fields. Moreover, this single-component escapement requires substantially less servicing than traditional systems, which are typically comprised of some 30 different pieces.

The Inventor’s movement is housed in a 44-mm case made of durable, lightweight titanium. The bezel is made of Aeronith, an aluminum-polymer composite with a texture that resembles a meteorite. This three-hand watch also features a skeletonized dial, which offers wearers a clear view of the high-tech mechanism at work. Watching this movement ticking away inside the DEFY Inventor is like watching a perfectly functioning living organism.

Defy Inventor
Defy Inventor

All in all, Zenith’s futuristic design underscores the advent of a new era in watchmaking. Despite its lightness, the size and thickness (14.5 mm) of this timepiece hardly make it suitable for every wrist. One thing is for sure, however: Wearers will feel as though they’re wearing the watch of the future on the alligator leather and rubber strap.

The revolutionary DEFY Inventor is priced at 18,900 Swiss francs.

DEFY El Primero 21 Carbon

Zenith could not help but work with one of today’s most popular materials in the field of watchmaking: carbon. As its name suggests, this Primero-powered chronograph is almost entirely made of the strong, lightweight composite material. Carbon is being used more and more in the watch industry and beyond for its attractive qualities. The Primero caliber is just as beloved due to its prized precision. An added bonus is that each timepiece is truly one of a kind thanks to the unique pattern of carbon fibers. The watch looks beautiful when light hits the shimmering fibers, though truth be told, it’s probably not the best option for those with delicate wrists. The 44-mm case is relatively tall; we’d hardly call it a “discrete” watch.

Zenith El Primero 21 Carbon
Zenith El Primero 21 Carbon

Once noticed on the wrist, the technical extravagance of this watch offers ample opportunity for discussion; from the El Primero 9004 chronograph movement that measures to within 1/100th of a second and vibrates at an unbelievable 360,000 A/h (a hypnotizing spectacle to say the least), to the sapphire glass case back and open dial. The white indices are easy to read despite the numerous dial elements, and the chronograph hands feature red accents, which fit seamlessly with the watch’s overall theme: speed. Its 10 ATM (330 ft) of water resistance is more than sufficient, but what really sold us was Zenith’s rubber strap featuring a carbon-like texture.

If you want to experience the speed of this chronograph for yourself, be prepared to spend 18,900 Swiss francs.

El Primero A386 Revival

Many loyal Zenith fans have anxiously awaited the comeback of this legendary trio. It was a smart move by Zenith to answer the call and introduce the El Primero A386 Revival in celebration of the chronograph’s 50th anniversary.

Zenith has paid tribute to the legendary high-frequency chronographs from 1969 by releasing a trilogy of precious-metal watches, each measuring in at a comfortable 38 mm. These watches provide wonderful complementary alternatives to the modern, avant-garde DEFY line. The three versions in white, rose, or yellow gold are limited to runs of 50 pieces each and are sold with a 50-year guarantee. It goes without saying that these watches are also incredibly precise. Similar to the older version, this chronograph measures to within 1/10th of a second, but what really makes this watch – both the past and present versions – is its design. The tricolor subdials and tachymeter scale are a sight to behold. We are fascinated by how closely the Revival resembles the original Primero, without going too far in the retro direction – Zenith has struck a perfect balance!

El Primero A386
El Primero A386

There are some deviations from the original on the reverse side of the watch: The transparent case back offers a nice view of the movement at work, an understandable decision considering the latest automatic El Primero 400 caliber is very easy on the eyes. All models come on a black or brown leather strap, in line with the original version. The clasp coordinates with the respective case material. A few extras are also thrown into the mix, including a bright red travel pouch and a microfiber cloth with an image of the El Primero chronograph movement. Buyers will be delighted that this watch offers an alternative to the modern Zenith watches in the DEFY and El Primero 21 collections.

The price point for these limited edition watches is 19,900 Swiss francs.

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About the Author

Pascal Gehrlein

Hi, I'm Pascal. After spending many hours searching for my first luxury watch on Chrono24, I ended up visiting their "Legal details" page and saw their headquarters …

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