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Defying the present: watches of tomorrow

Two versions of Zenith's Defy Zero G.

Defy Classic.

Defy Classic (41mm) in titanium blue.

Zenith Defy El Primero in black ceramic.

AT Zenith, the future of watch-making is summed up in four letters: DEFY. What that really means, the brand hasn't spelt out beyond saying it's "a modern collection encompassing various degrees of horological complexity". Meanwhile, Zenith lets its watches do the talking.

"It all began with the Defy El Primero 21," it says in a press release. This was the revolutionary 100th-of-a-second chronograph launched in 2017. It represents a new benchmark in mechanical watch-making.

Then came the first-generation Defy Lab, "the world's most accurate watch" - thanks to its new mono-crystalline silicon oscillator, a first in watch-making.

What the two timepieces have in common is they are ahead of their time. This futuristic element now provides a new DNA for Zenith to roll out the Defy Classic, which is a "gateway" into the futuristic universe of watch-making.

The Defy Classic, stylish in an elegant and sporty way, is seemingly simple: a three-hand watch with a date. The case is made of ultra-light but super-tough titanium. Through the star-shaped open-worked dial with a shade of blue, you can catch a glimpse of the blackened skeletal movement.

Big luminescent baton-type hours and minute hands and a slim seconds hand with an emblematic star counterweight sweep over five stylised branches that evoke the Zenith symbol. The deep blue minutes ring is punctuated by faceted applied hour-markers, boosting an open-worked mechanism which sports a contemporary finishing. This is exactly the same shade as the 1960 El Primero, a nod to the collector's legendary origins.

Beating at the heart of Defy Classic is the famed automatic Elite 670 base movement which is fitted, for the first time, with a silicon pallet-lever and escape wheel - an addition visible through the opened-worked mechanism. The movement oscillates at 4 Hz and has a power reserve of 48 hours.

Defy Classic comes with a rubber strap coded with alligator leather or a unistructure rubber version.

There's also a version of the watch in a sunburst blue closed dial with three o'clock date window, teamed with the same bracelet-strap options as the open-worked model.

More in keeping with the DEFY image is the futuristic-looking Defy Zero G, a forward reinterpretation of Zenith's patented "Gravity Control" module, which nullifies the effect of gravity on the watch's running rate. This is done by keeping the regulating organ and the balance wheel in a horizontal position.

The gyroscopic cage, modelled on historical marine chronometers, originally spun between two convex sapphire crystals. In the Defy Zero G, which is limited to three pieces, the cage fills up only a third of its initial volume and can fit perfectly between the two flat sapphire crystals of the watch's case. This technical, feather-light device is located at six o'clock.

Powering Defy Zero G is the hand-wound El Primero 8812 S movement. The totally skeletonised and black rhodium-treated mechanism, visible on both sides of the watch, makes a striking contrast with the light tone of the five slim branches, evoking the offset Zenith star symbol.

The Defy Zero G pays tribute to American rapper Swizz Beatz. This is the second time Zenith is honouring the musician, who is also a watch lover. Last December, a Defy El Primero 21 six-piece Edition Unique was launched for him.

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