If there’s been one runaway theme this year at Watches & Wonders, it’s been colour.
The watchmaking industry’s most important trade show has seen over 40 brands (both in and out of the event) unveil literally hundreds of watches of all shapes and sizes, but some of the most exciting releases have also been the most colourful: take Cartier’s Tank Must collection, Hublot’s eye-catching ceramic Big Bang or Piaget’s verdant take on their thinnest watch ever.
But Zenith’s contributions might just have the most polychromatic of all. The 156-year-old Le Locle brand unveiled ten new models this year, all of which are not only particularly colourful but represent some of Zenith’s most exciting technical innovations yet.
The Defy 21 Spectrum collection stands out as the most glamorous of Zenith’s 2021 releases. Consists of five models that take on different frequencies of visible light (hence the moniker), the Spectrum collection takes the already eye-catching Defy 21 chronograph and adds 288 brilliant-cut diamonds as well as some seriously dramatic colours. If that wasn’t enough, the bezels are also adorned with colour-matched precious stones for an added level of luxe.
These five references take ‘wrist candy’ to the next level, and each colour is limited to only 10 examples – so 50 total. Speaking of limited editions…
Another colourful limited edition unveiled at W&W was the Defy 21 ‘Felipe Pantone’. Produced in collaboration with the popular Argentine-Spanish contemporary artist that lends his name to the watch, the Felipe Pantone’s black ceramic case frames a design evocative of the colour wheel function within Photoshop or a draughtsman’s workbench, with grid lines and chromatic tones dancing across the dial.
Its most striking feature of the 100-piece limited edition is the deliberately distorted hour and minute hands, which look almost pixelated; like they’ve turned anti-aliasing off on the watch. A grid-like design on the rubber strap complements the watch’s design.
Somewhat more restrained than the Felipe Pantone or the Spectrums is the Defy 21 ‘Ultrablue’. A follow-up from 2020’s Defy 21 ‘Ultraviolet’, the Ultrablue features a super-clean design that lets the Defy 21’s signature open-worked movement pop, with key movement parts decked out in deep indigo. A comfortable ‘Cordura effect’ rubber strap complements the stylish timepiece.
Perhaps the most impressive reveal Zenith had in store for W&W was an entirely new collection. Taking design cues from 70s Zenith references with its highly faceted, angular case, the Defy Extreme is bold, masculine and a worthy addition to Zenith’s stable of timekeeping delights.
Constructed from micro-blasted titanium and featuring a somewhat less busy dial and chunkier hands than some of its fellow Defy models, the Extreme launches with three different variants: a brushed titanium model with blue highlights, a matte titanium model with black highlights, and another matte model with rose gold highlights. Each are available with a matching titanium bracelet as well as a rubber strap and Velcro strap.
All three Extreme references – indeed, all the Defy watches unveiled at W&W – feature Zenith’s truly impressive high-frequency El Primero 9004 movement. Zenith has long been a leader in high-frequency movements and this movement is a particularly exciting one. Accurate to up to one-hundredth of a second, the central chronograph seconds hand is capable of making a single rotation around the dial every second. That’s bloody fast and fun as hell to watch, too.
So speed on into Zenith’s online boutique to have a squiz before they all race out of there. Go on, we’ll time you.