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Hands On With The Zenith Defy Skyline Watches With 1/10th Running Seconds Display

Zenith Defy Skyline watch

Zenith Defy Skyline watch with interchangeable bracelets, straps.

With the Omicron variant of COVID-19 breathing heavily down our throats, it has been difficult to meet in person with too many watch brands. Luckily, thanks to an LVMH Watch Day in New York, I was able to go hands-on with a few of the brands, including Zenith. Here, we take a closer look at the Zenith Defy Skyline collection — and it’s pretty impressive, especially given the value proposition.

First Impression of the Zenith Defy Skyline

At first glance, the newest Zenith Defy Skyline watches are  appealing in design. Naturally, one would expect this from a Swiss brand like Zenith, which has a rich heritage in making precision watches that offer form and function. However, a closer look at the uncluttered dial will raise eyebrows. For the first time ever, a watch brand has put a 1/10th of a second running seconds subsidiary dial on a watch. While this may sound confusing, it isn’t.

Most watches with a  subsidiary seconds hand shows the seconds jumping from one to the next or sweeping by. However, the Zenith Defy Skyline watch has a hand that moves so swiftly that it is mesmerizing. Why? Because that hand is tracking the seconds in 1/10th-of-a-second increments an completes a revolution around the 9:00 subdial once every 10 seconds.

Zenith Defy Skyline watch

Zenith Defy Skyline watches are available in three color ways. Photo: R. Naas

Variations of the Zenith Defy Skyline

The new watch – which is offered in three colorways, each with a super-cool mini-block-like dial motif – is the first watch to display this concept on the dial. Heretofore, Zenith used its 1/10th of a second precision for its legendary chronographs. The movement, El Primero 3600, that powers those chronographs, has been completely reconfigured for this watch and is now referred to as the El Primero 3620. It maintains the coveted 60 hours of power reserve when fully wound that the chronograph watches offer.  This allows the wearer to take the mechanical automatic watch off his or her wrist and set it down for up to 60 hours (more than four days) without having to reset the time when picking it back up. Many three-hand watches only offer 42 hours of power reserve (not enough for an entire weekend of rest).

 What’s inside the Zenith Defy Skyline watch

Zenith Defy Skyline watch

Zenith Defy Skyline watches are sold with a metal bracelet or rubber strap.

The Zenith Defy Skyline watch  brings the legendary El Primero movement, first invented in 1969, to even new heights – and marks the first time this counting precision is offered in a watch without a chronograph function. The Defy watches – whose story began in 1902 with the first “Defi” line of pocket watches – made the most sense for the launch of this new series. After all, this collection is all about raising the standards and going beyond the norms. (It is, after all, the collection that boasts the super-impressive 1/100th of a second  chronograph.)

A journey around the dial of the Zenith Defy Skyline watch

A journey around this watch reveals several important aesthetic details. To begin with the 41mm stainless steel case boasts a 12-sided outer bezel, a signature look for Defy, and an alluring sunburst dial with a geometrical motif of four-pointed stars meant to emulate the stars in the sky above any bustling metropolis skyline. According to the brand, this pattern is a re-imagination of the double Z logo of the brand in the 1960’s (where founder Georges-Favre Jacot was inspired by the night sky in Switzerland). The dials are offered in blue on blue, white on white and black on black.

Each high-frequency (5Hz) watch is water resistant to 100 meters, and each boasts luminous-coated hands and markers for easy nighttime visibility. The integrated bracelet exudes a powerful look thanks to the strong links and the matte finish. However, each watch is also sold with an interchangeable color-coordinated rubber strap. The silver-dial version is sold with a khaki green rubber strap, while the blue dial model Is sold with a blue rubber strap and the black is joined by a black strap. The watches retail for $8,400.

Zenith Defy Skyline watch

Zenith Defy Skyline watches retail fro $8,400.

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