Quick takes: Zenith DEFY Extreme new for 2021

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The Zenith DEFY Extreme represents a supercharged DEFY, where the outlines and details are accentuated. The case is larger than the DEFY 21, has an additional ring under the bezel and a more pronounced pusher and crown design.

Zenith DEFY Extreme

The Case and Dial

The new DEFY Extreme is fit with a larger 45mm titanium case. It features more sharp lines, angles, beveled edges and an additional contrasting stacked 12 sided bezel ring. The overall silhouette brings to mind elements of Grand Seiko’s SBGC231 and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak Offshore. Side by side with the regular DEFY 21, the Extreme looks significantly more sporty, like a Hublot Big Bang King compared with a regular Big Bang.

Skeletonized dial, rubber strap, chronograph with contrasting metals, colors, are formulaic of Hublot’s fusion concept that we see as well in Zenith’s contemporary lines.

The DEFY collection is Zenith’s answer to the performance luxury sports segment and the DEFY Extreme has just the right amount of ‘performance’ for its sports pedigree. The case is water resistant to 200 meters despite its see-through caseback. The larger case size helps with pressure resistance, but not without maintaining the retro-futuristic styling of the original 1960s DEFY models.

The titanium case is matte-finished with a microblasted surface.

The dial features applied overlapping chronograph counters. For low light readability, the satin brushed hands as well as the applied hour markers are also extra-large and filled with copious amounts of Super-LumiNova.

The openworked dial shows an underlying gunmetal bridge, beneath contrasting black 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.

The DEFY Extreme comes with three different straps with quick strap-change mechanisms: A mircroblasted or polished and satin-brushed titanium bracelet, a rubber strap with a folding buckle matching the case and, a first for Zenith and the DEFY line, and a Velcro® strap.

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

We like the look and feel of the watch; in particular for its larger size as compared to the DEFY 21. While it takes a larger wrist to pull off, the DEFY Extreme offers a compelling alternative in the skeleton sports watch category. As with the DEFY 21, the movement is ahead of most of its competitors, in technical feat and animation. The Extreme also offers multiple looks in one watch with a bracelet, rubber and velcro option interchangeable with a button quick release mechanism. Priced from US$18,000, the DEFY Extreme is a muscled up DEFY 21 for those who like a sporty chronograph with an extra heft.


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