In 1969, Zenith launched El Primero, the first ever fully integrated automatic column-wheel chronograph movement, enabling 1/10th of a second precision. This groundbreaking model laid a new milestone in watchmaking history that had never been surpassed – until now. Half a century later, Zenith has once again defied tradition and pushed existing boundaries, leading us into the world of 1/100th of a second accuracy.
Defy El Primero 21 Blue with a titanium strap © Zenith
The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 represents a quantum leap in both performance and mechanical design. This is a competition against no-one but itself. The newly upgraded movement of this timepiece boasts a frequency of 360,000 A/H (50 Hz), ten times that of its world-famous El Primero predecessor, enabling 1/100th of a second precision. An exquisitely designed display magnifies the effect of this astonishing frequency: the inner bezel bears a scale graduated from 1 to 100 around which a 1/100th of a second hand sweeps at a lightning speed of one turn per second, offering unprecedented visual impact and a surreal time-travelling experience for the wearer. Echoing the trend in modern engineering development and ensuring optimal performance, this incredible mechanical complication is achieved using a far smaller number of components, minimizing tedious assembly and adjustments. In addition to significantly improved performance and mechanical structure, the design of the TIMELAB-chronometer certified Defy El Primero 21 draws inspiration from its 1969 predecessor. Framed by a 44 mm case made of grade 5 titanium, the openworked dial of the Defy El Primero 21 offers a resolutely contemporary background for the key identifying characteristics of the original: a star-tipped sweep-seconds hand, large luminescent baton-type hands and facetted hour-markers all paying tribute in a demonstration of futuristic brilliance.
Defy El Primero 21 Blue with a blue rubber strap © Zenith
Today, Zenith announces the brand new Zenith Defy Lab collection that contains what they claim is the world’s most accurate mechanical movement. The in-house made caliber ZO 342 automatic operates at 15Hz, which is faster (a good thing) than the vast majority of mechanical watches out there, including Zenith’s legendary 5Hz “high beat” frequency El Primero automatic chronograph movement. This is a bold new step not only for Zenith, but also for the entire watch industry as it further legitimizes a controversial but ultimately wise creative direction. Zenith will debut the Defy Lab as a very limited set of 10 “piece unique” watches – at comparably “exclusive” prices. What about everyone else who will want one of these very compelling timepieces? Zenith makes it clear that the initial 10 Defy Lab watches are “only the beginning.” The Defy Lab’s movement will not only be put into regular production, but it will serve as a base for future complications. The first set of Defy Lab watches after this initial debut collector’s set is planned for production in 2018.
The TIMELAB-chronometer certified Defy El Primero 21 Blue features a titanium case with matching rhodium-plated hour markers and hands. The openworked dial displays a chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o’clock, hours and minutes in the centre, small seconds at 9 o’clock, black 60-second counter at 6 o’clock and the Defy El Primero 21’s trademark blue 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, offset by the unusual and visually striking blue mainplate. Designed to please a range of tastes, the Defy El Primero 21 Blue offers a choice of three striking straps from black rubber covered with a sophisticated blue alligator leather coating; the comfort of supple blue rubber; or the sleekness of unadulterated titanium, all with a titanium double folding clasp. This timepiece, endowed with a 50-hour power reserve and water-resistant to 100 metres, is sure to please the most discerning gentleman diver.
Defy El Primero 21 Blue with a black rubber covered with blue alligator leather coating strap © Zenith