Watches and Wonders 2021: Zenith releases a spectrum of brightly coloured watches...
Zenith have a history of making some incredible chronographs, so it's only natural that this year the brand expands it's Defy range with 5 new limited edition pieces. In addition to this the brand has jumped headfirst into the vintage watch market, with it's own capsule collection of vintage Zenith watches! Read on to find out about both...
The New Zenith DEFY 21 Spectrum Series
With bright coloured dials have recently enjoyed a comeback in watchmaking, Zenith has decided to follow the trend themselves. But they’ve put an unexpected twist on things with the DEFY 21 Spectrum series, by incorporating striking colours everywhere but the dial. Whether it’s the coloured chronograph movements achieved through innovative pigmentation processes or the natural brilliance and hue of precious stones, the DEFY 21 Spectrum is a whole new take on vivid, kinetic vibrancy.
At the core of this striking and highly exclusive collection is the El Primero 21, Zenith’s revolutionary 1/100th of a second chronograph calibre that beats at the astonishing rate of 50Hz (360’000 VpH). The fastest chronograph in production and the only one to accurately and legibly measure and display 1/100th of a second time measurements, the El Primero 21 elevates high-frequency chronometry to uncharted new heights.
To express this exceptional mechanical prowess, Zenith has sought to visualize the notion of frequencies through colour and lights. Aptly named Spectrum after the range of colours produced by the different wavelengths of visible light, this collection of dazzling DEFY 21 pieces consists of five models that take on different frequencies of visible light.
The common element across these five models is the 44mm stainless steel case, which has been entirely embellished with 288 brilliant-cut white diamonds. Each version features a bezel set with 44 baguette-cut precious stones, with matching coloured movements and rubber straps: green tsavorites for the green edition, orange sapphires for the orange edition, blue sapphires for the blue edition, amethyst for the purple edition, and black spinels for the black edition. Creating these exceptional feats of both advanced watchmaking and traditional gem-setting requires the laborious selection of stones of the same size, colour and VVS quality, then meticulously setting them into the metal by the hands of skilled artisans. Each limited to 10 pieces, the DEFY 21 Spectrum collection is exclusively available at Zenith boutiques around the world.
Case width: 44mm
Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, 1/100th of a second chronograph, and power reserve indicator.
Power reserve: 50 Hours
Case: Stainless steel set with diamonds
Dial: Openworked with two different-coloured counters
Strap: Rubber with titanium double folding clasp.
Price: 34,900 CHF
Availability: Limited to 10 pieces of each colour.
The new DEFY 21 models perfectly combine the trend for bright, bold colours with Zenith’s futuristic design language. The diamonds will be a bit much for a lot of people, but then these limited editions are meant to make a statement!
The New Zenith Icons
Zenith’s next, and for me the most interesting, announcement is not actually about a new watch. In fact it’s about some old ones. Given the ever-rising strength of the vintage watch market, and the minefield it can be for the consumer, Zenith have decided to retail their own vintage watches.
Dubbed Zenith Icons, this new concept offers the possibility for customers to choose from a curated selection of iconic and highly sought-after vintage Zenith watches. Offering only the finest examples of historically important references, Zenith Icons watches are sourced, restored and certified by Zenith themselves in Le Locle and sold exclusively at Zenith's boutiques.
This means that collectors after a vintage Zenith can now have complete peace of mind that the watch they’ve purchased is completely authentic and in excellent condition. Zenith provides a certificate of authenticity with each watch, and will store the full records of each watch in their digital archives. What’s more, each vintage watch will have a full 3 year warranty.
Zenith’s aim is to retail these as capsule collections, moving from one location to the next around the globe. The brand started offering vintage pieces back in October 2020 at its boutique in Ginza, and will next retail them at Shanghai. The models there will focus on some of the earliest and most iconic El Primero references from 1969 to 1972. Below are some examples of vintage watches from the Icons collection:
The A384 made its debut in 1969 as the face of the El Primero that figured on launch press cuttings and on the cover of the first El Primero brochures. It stands out with its "square barrel" case signed with the Zenith 4-pointed star logo and its “panda” dial – which has turned tropical in this case, making it all the more desirable.
One of the original trio of stainless steel references that launched alongside the El Primero calibre, the A385 is the model Zenith chose for its advertisements and photo-shoots in 1969. It left its mark on the era with its "shaded smoky brown" gradient dial, unprecedented at the time, and its "square barrel" case, signed with the Zenith 4-pointed star logo.
What would become the template for Zenith’s signature Chronomaster line, the A386 was launched in 1969 in a more classical round-case with straight lugs variant of the first El Primero-equipped watch. It garnered attention for its unprecedented tri-colour chronograph counters and decimal scale, becoming one of the most significant references in the history of the El Primero calibre and an icon among chronograph wristwatches.
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