Quick Takes: Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma new from LVMH Watch Week

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The DEFY 21 Chroma is a colourful execution of the high-frequency El Primero 21 1/100th of a second chronograph model, crafted in a 44mm matte white ceramic case with rainbow-coloured movement visible through the open dial set with markers in a gradient of tones. The white rubber strap also features rainbow stitching. Limited edition of 200 pieces.

Quick Takes: Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma

The Case and Dial

Featuring a matte microblasted white ceramic case in 44mm for the DEFY 21, the muted finish enhances the sleek lines of the faceted case as it absorbs light rather than reflect it. The DEFY 21 is paired with white ceramic bezels for a sharp contrast with the rainbow accented dial and crown.

The case in size and style is similar in concept to pieces from Tag Heuer and Hublot. There are lesser screw fastened elements on the case, but the design construction is similar to the Big Bang. Using an integrated lugs design, the shorter lugs as compared to a Royal Oak Offshore or Hublot Big Bang delivers a stark improvement in wearability.

With ergonomics as well as durability in mind, the watch is fit with a rubber and fabric strap, with a water-resistance of 100 metres.

Rectangular pushers activate and reset the chronograph, while a rubber inlay screwdown crown adjusts the time. Both buttons and crown are well sized to maximize the tactile experience when interacting with the watch, enhancing the watch’s sportiness. And in actual use, it does not disappoint. The start, stop, reset of the pushers feel very nice to operate.

The openworked dial shows an underlying gunmetal bridge, beneath contrasting white subdials. Through the dial, one can see the escapement, gear train and spring barrel. Moving parts that add to the exciting 1/100th second theater on the dial.

Unequivocally modern in its choice of proportions, architecture, materials and finish, the DEFY El Primero 21 Chroma does  carry on some of the distinctive traits from the earliest retro-futuristic DEFY models of the 1960s such as the  A3642, included the angular case and its faceted bezel

The Movement

The watch runs on the El Primero 9004 automatic caliber. This is a highly unique complication with 2 escapements, one for the watch and another for the 1/100th of a second Chronograph. Fascinating is that both escapements beat at different rates, since a higher rate is required for the 1/100th chronograph, but having it run all the time for regular timekeeping would create too much wear on the parts.  1 escapement for the watch beats at (36,000 VpH – 5 Hz); and 1 escapement for the Chronograph beats at (360,000 VpH – 50 Hz). The movement is TIME LAB Chronometer certified.

Concluding thoughts

A step up from the run-off the mill skeleton rubber strap chronographs, Zenith wows with its movement as it usually does. For starters, dual escapement, super high beat chronograph, all titanium case are major plus points for a modern sports watch. The new colorway is playful and stylistically vibrant, making it a good option for a more casual timepiece.

Priced at US$14500, the DEFY 21 Chroma is limited to 200 pieces and is marked as ‘coming soon’ online.


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