New with hands-on: Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

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Kicking off LVMH Watch week, we get some hands-on time to get up close and personal with the new Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton.

New with hands-on: Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

The new Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton Ref. 03.9300.3620/79.I001 has a retail price of SGD 16,100 / CHF 10,900.

Zenith released 4 novelties for this LVMH Watch Week which starts today. With the Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton being the hero product for this launch. The others are the Defy Skyline 36mm, the Defy Skyline Boutique Edition and the Defy Extreme Glacier. We will cover the others in due time, but for today, we focus on the Skyline Skeleton.

The Defy Skyline Skeleton is available in blue or black. On the right of this Zenith publicity photograph is the original Skyline in blue.

The Defy Skyline Skeleton is not a new product. But an extension of the existing Skyline collection released earlier last year. We covered the watch in a detailed review of the launch model here. But what is new is that with this novelty, Zenith uses its expertise in creating skeleton dials and applied this to the Skyline.

We were also told to expect something interesting for Watches & Wonders 2023, as Zenith will hold its powder dry till then for a grand reveal.

The case, dial and hands

The model we are reviewing is the blue skeleton dial. The Skyline collection is conceived by taking cues from modern cityscape structures which are light and bound in constant movement.

Though an extension to the launch model line, there are immediate differences which are noticeable at first glance. Other than the skeleton dial, that is. The new watch now features seconds sub-dial at 6 o’clock instead of at 9 o’clock. As with the original launch model, the seconds makes one jump every 1/10th of a second, completing a revolution every 10 seconds instead of the usual 60 seconds. The date is now deleted as it would probably be too messy to incorporate a date display open dial layout. The case remains the same as the launch Skyline. Crafted in brushed stainless steel with an angular design language and features polished bevels for the 12 sided bezel. The size of the case remains at a very comfortable 41mm.

The hour markers are baton, with lume infilling. These appliqué indices extend from a chapter ring in the periphery of the dial which are ruled in minutes.

The case design follows the geometry of the early Defy models from the 1960s, and exudes a sense of structural robustness and durability. The case is water resistant to 100m.

The watch is delivered in a stainless steel bracelet plus a rubber strap with a stainless steel clasp in a colour matching the dial. The bracelet and strap can be user interchanged using a simple, but effective system.

The movement Cal. 3620 SK

The movement remains the caliber 3620, but this is not the exact same movement as used in the launch models. The movement is modified to move the running seconds hand from the dial 9 o’clock position to the 6 o’clock position. But the architecture remains the same. The movement is basically the El Primero 3600 with the 1/10th of a second chronograph, using a direct drive system form the escapement for the subsidiary seconds hand.

The movement is visible through the open worked dial as well as through the sapphire glass case back. The movement beats at 36,000 bph, and is wound bi-directionally by a star shaped rotor which delivers 60 hours of power reserve to the mainsprings.

As with the launch caliber 3620, the movement has a hacking mechanism. Finishing is judged to be adequately good, but sans the high end embellishments found in movements with haute horlogerie aspirations. Given the somewhat modest pricing of the Defy Skyline, this level of finish is on point, and appropriate. In our experience, Zenith movements are robust and reliable with good timekeeping performance.

Concluding thoughts

As we concluded in our detailed review of the launch model, the new Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton is a beautiful watch. We exchange the ultra simplicity of the original model with a touch of complication in the form of the open worked dial. And we must say, the skeleton dial is rather tastefully done. Especially the blue model which we photographed here. The additional touch of a fast revolving seconds hand, making one complete revolution every 10s creates additional visual interest. And adds a sense of urgency though its animation on the dial. The finish of the case is excellent.

Pricing has somewhat increased over the base launch models, which had a retail price of SGD 12,400. But we must take recognition that the new movement, the open works applied to the dial.

Wristshot. Added after publication.

Photo Notes

Photographs with the Deployant watermark are photographed in the LVMH offices with the Alpa Focus Stacking Kit FP{S 105 Float system comprising of the complete with stacking unit, ALPA 12 FPS, ALPA Macro Switar 5.6/105 mm, the Novaflex Ballpro1 bellows and Castel-Macro automated focus stacking system and the Phase One IQ 3 100 Mp digital back. A review of this ultra high end, specialist macro system is forthcoming.