Review: The new Zenith DEFY Inventor

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Zenith DEFY Inventor

Zenith released a new first in watchmaking technology, with the 100th of a second chronograph named DEFY El Primero 21 – which began in 2017. The same year, Zenith unveiled DEFY Lab, an ‘archetype’ regulated by a revolutionary oscillator developed by the Manufacture and issued in a 10- piece limited edition.

Today, the ‘specimen’ is moving beyond laboratory stage and becoming the DEFY Inventor, produced in a run of several hundred units and equipped with its own patented regulating organ.

The Case and Dial

The DEFY Inventor measures 44 mm in diameter and 14.5 mm in height. The center case uses brushed titanium and is fit with an Aeronith bezel. This lightest aluminium composite in the world was developed with both material properties and physical aesthetics in mind. Aeronith is three times lighter than titanium and made of open-pore aluminium foam, stiffened with a polymer. The visual texture of the material resembles that of stone or granite.

A trend setter like with sister brands Tag Heuer and Hublot, the Zenith DEFY Inventor features a openworked dial with a stylised propeller, of which the five ‘blades/branches’ evoke the Zenith star. The emblem is repeated at the central logo and the seconds hand counter balance.

At its back, a transparent caseback is used to reveal a skeletonized rotor and skeleton bridges and plates of the Calibre 9100. The watch is water resistant to 5 ATM and is fit with a Black rubber with midnight blue alligator strap.

The Movement

Beating at the heart of the watch is the Calibre 9100. It has a frequency of 129’600 VpH (18 Hz), which is 4.5 times higher than most common automatic movements. This higher frequency is said to greatly improve the timekeeping accuracy of the watch, while reducing the number of components used. The single-piece Zenith Oscillator developed and patented by the Maison replaces the 30 or so components used in traditional spring balance regulating mechanisms.

This major innovation for the industry offers a number of benefits. Firstly, increased reliability, given that this unique ultra-thin element (0.5 mm) replaces the thirty or so components of a standard regulating organ and thus eliminates contact, friction, wear and deformation; and secondly, stability, since it is made of monocrystalline silicon and therefore insensitive to temperature variations and magnetic fields. In addition, its escape-wheel is made of flexible blades, a first in the watch industry. These exceptional qualities are triple certified: for magnetic insensitivity (ISO-764), thermal insensitivity (ISO-3159) and chronometric precision (TIMELAB – Foundation of the Geneva Laboratory of Horology and Micro-engineering).

Concluding Thoughts

Zenith is reinventing itself as the new ‘El Primero’ of the watch industry. While its focus on heritage appeal and homage style watches had brought the brand back to stage from its Thierry Nataf days, the brand’s redirection to focus on innovation will be what drives it forward in the years to come. It is also fascinating to observe its product positioning vis-a-vis Bulgari and Tag Heuer and Hublot.

The Zenith Defy Inventor (ref. 95.9001.9100/78.R584) is priced at CHF 17,900, or US$18,000.


Reference: 95.9001.9100/78.R584


Monolithic regulating organ made of Silicon (compared with 30 or so components of a standard regulating organ)
Bezel made of Aeronith (the lightest aluminium composite
in the world)

High frequency of 18Hz (129’600 VpH) No need for lubrification
Insensitivity to magnetic fields
Triple certification:

Insensitivity to magnetism (ISO-764)
Insensitivity to temperature gradients (ISO-3159)
Chronometer Certified by TimeLab


Calibre 9100
Calibre: 14 1⁄4 “` (Diameter: 32.80mm)
Movement thickness: 8.13 mm
Components: 148
Jewels: 18
Frequency: 129’600 VpH (18 Hz)
Power-reserve: min. 50 hours
Finishing: Oscillating weight adorned with “Côtes de Genève” motif


Hours, minutes and central seconds (stop second mechanism)


Diameter: 44 mm
Diameter opening: 35.5mm
Thickness: 14.5mm
Crystal: Domed sapphire crystal with anti-reflective treatment on both sides Case-back: Transparent sapphire crystal
Material: Brushed titanium with Aeronith bezel
Water-resistance: 5 ATM
Dial: Blue Openworked
Hour-markers: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova® SLN C1 Hands: Rhodium-plated, faceted and coated with Super-LumiNova® SLN C1


Black rubber with blue alligator leather coating Titanium double folding clasp


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