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Zenith - The many faces of the Defy El Primero 21

Zenith The many faces of the Defy El Primero 21

Zenith recently unveiled seven new El Primero 21 watches. I’m willing to bet that it will take you a lot longer than 1/100th of a second to pick one.

Less than a year ago, at Baselworld, Zenith unveiled the Defy El Primero, a chronograph whose innovative movement represented a new landmark in the rich chronometric history of the Le Locle watchmaker. Thanks to its frequency of 360,000 vph (50 Hz), which is ten times that of the first El Primero movement of 1969, the chronometer-certified El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement is able to measure time increments as small as one hundredth of a second. Other innovations include two balance springs made of carbon nanotubes and twin chain architecture, with one escapement dedicated to the time function and the other to the chronograph. In terms of design, the Defy El Primero 21 is firmly anchored in the 21st century, with its powerful 44 mm case and architectural lines, but it hasn’t completely abandoned the El Primero aesthetic: it has retained the running seconds hand with its star, and the faceted indices and baton hands coated with Super-LumiNova®.

Zenith has just unveiled seven new Defy El Primero 21s, which join the brushed titanium and ceramicised aluminium models presented last year. They all feature the El Primero 9004 movement with its 50-hour power reserve; they have the same main features – 44 mm case water resistant to 100 m, domed sapphire crystal and sapphire caseback – and the same dial architecture, with a small seconds at 9 o’clock, chronograph hand in the centre, 30-minute counter at 3 o’clock, 60-second register at 6 o’clock, red power reserve at 12 o’clock, and a chapter ring marked off from 1 to 100, around which the central hand races at a dizzying one revolution per second.

Les multiples facettes de la Defy El Primero 21

Calibre El Primero 9004 © Zenith

The novelty lies in the case materials, colours and target clients. After the diamond-encrusted Swizz Beatz watch of 2017, two further gem-set versions are no doubt targeted more at women.

Diamonds, red gold and ceramic

So let’s have a look at the ladies first, beginning with the Defy El Primero 21 Diamond and Full Diamond, with titanium case and leather-lined rubber strap. The former has a bezel set with 44 baguette-cut diamonds (approx. 2.46 ct.), while the more luxurious version has 288 baguette-cut diamonds set into the case, totalling 5 carats.

Les multiples facettes de la Defy El Primero 21

Defy El Primero 21 Rose Gold and Full Diamonds © Zenith

Another novelty for the Defy El Primero 2018 collection is the rose gold version, with its gold-plated hour markers and hands that stand out very effectively against the openworked black dial. This elegant and more classical interpretation comes with a choice of brown rubber and alligator strap, or a rose gold bracelet. A brushed black ceramic model introduces a new alternative to the usual case materials, and gives this contemporary chronograph an on-trend “total black” look. It comes on a rubber strap or ceramic bracelet.


The Defy El Primero 21 Blue pays tribute to the iconic El Primero colour. The brushed titanium case provides a foil for the blue baseplate of this particularly vivid watch, whose bright colour, as well as its 100 m depth rating, should ensure it a strong following among diving watch enthusiasts. Divers will probably opt for the rubber strap, rather than the leather-lined rubber strap or titanium options.

Les multiples facettes de la Defy El Primero 21

Defy El Primero Blue © Zenith

Finally, two variants in brushed titanium with a silver-coloured dial complete the 2018 range. While the first has the openworked dial typical of the Defy collection, the second will appeal to fans of the historic El Primero, with its silvered sunray-finished closed dial punctuated by black registers, which is available with either a black rubber strap, or a titanium bracelet for an even more classic look.

Les multiples facettes de la Defy El Primero 21

Defy El Primero 21 closed dial © Zenith



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