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LVMH Watch Week
Zenith - A Defiant Start To The Year

Zenith A Defiant Start To The Year

The Zenith watches of LVMH Watch Week 2022 reveal new facets of the Defy collection.

In this year’s edition of LVMH Watch Week, the main launch from Zenith is their Defy Skyline, powered by a time-only version of the El Primero movement, which was originally built as a chronograph. The small seconds counter at 9 o’clock is the only visible indication of the 5Hz movement. The hand makes one complete turn in 10 seconds, with each second divided into tenths to show the ability of the watch to accurately measure small fractions of a second. Watch our video here, featuring Zenith’s head of product development Romain Marietta, to get the full scoop on this watch.

LVMH Watch Week 2022

Defy Midnight Sunset © Zenith

Among all the other launches from Zenith during LVMH Watch Week 2022, the ones that caught my eye the most were the new Defy Midnight models, with gradient coloured dials. The Defy Midnight Borealis features a green-blue gradient while the Defy Midnight Sunset has a red-orange dial. Mechanically, these two models are identical to the previous Defy Midnight timepieces, but what I appreciate about them is their use of colours to evoke the natural phenomena at the geographical limits of our planet. While the juxtaposition of the words “midnight” and “sunset” may seem odd to us, the midnight sunset is actually something that occurs at the poles during particular times of the year. We know that the sun does not set at the poles during their respective summers. Leading up to this time, the sun begins to set later and rise earlier (eventually staying above the horizon throughout the entire 24 hours of a day), and the Defy Midnight Sunset draws our attention to the astronomical occurence that characterises this liminal period.

LVMH Watch Week 2022

Defy Midnight Borealis © Zenith

The aurora borealis is technically only observed in the higher northern latitudes, with its Antipodean equivalent known as the aurora australis, but the word “borealis” has become synonymous with the dancing ethereal lights seen in the sky in both Northern and Southern hemispheres at extreme latitudes. As a metaphor for the limits of our earthly experience, the Defy Midnight Sunset and Defy Midnight Borealis are therefore particularly enjoyable, especially in context of Zenith’s “Time to reach your star” motto, which conveys a message of exploration and advancement.

LVMH Watch Week 2022

Defy 21 Chroma © Zenith

In the Defy 21 collection of high-frequency chronographs, the new Defy 21 Chroma continues the colourful narrative that we first saw in the brand’s collaboration with artist Felipe Pantone. The rainbow motif is a lot more subtle in the Defy 21 Chroma, with the watch being primarily in white with certain components (and strap stitching) providing a refreshing pop of saturated hue scattered over various places in the watch.

LVMH Watch Week 2022

Defy Extreme Carbon © Zenith

The Defy Extreme, introduced last year, is now available in carbon fibre, reinforcing the colourful sub-theme of Zenith at this year’s LVMH Watch Week with the subdial and minute track markers in bright yellow, red, green and blue. The dodecagonal bezel was a key feature in the launch models of the Defy Extreme, and that brings us back to the Zenith Defy Skyline, which uses the same bezel shape.

LVMH Watch Week 2022

Defy Skyline © Zenith

I’ll be honest, the general online reaction to this watch is starting to get on my nerves. I’m bored of people asking me if the Defy Skyline reminds me of another steel sports watch, one that happens to be celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. It’s such a basic way of looking at things, and it’s not even that accurate of an observation. The bracelet is different, the case shape is different, the polygonal bezel is different, the dial decoration is different, the hands and dial markers are different, the movement is fundamentally different — I mean, what’s going on here?

LVMH Watch Week 2022

Defy Revival A3642 © Zenith

The Defy Revival A3642 that was released last week, everyone (including me) loves it; we’ve been praising this launch, and I’ve read countless articles and social media posts reminiscing about the original 1969 model. That means we all tacitly accept that this case shape and this bezel design is well established as being part of Zenith’s patrimony, years before other similar models appeared in the 1970s. Why would anyone connect the Defy Skyline to any other historical model than the 1969 Defy, which it is directly descended from, especially when the Defy Revival A3642 was announced literally just one week ago?

I can concede that all steel sports watches with multi-sided bezels will bear a superficial resemblance. You could also say that all SUVs look the same, or all black tuxedos look the same, or all chocolate chip cookies look the same. Does that mean only one company is allowed to make each of these things? Of course not. To car connoisseurs, each SUV model is different. To tailoring aficionados, every tuxedo is different. To cookie experts, there is a world of difference between the chocolate chip cookies of each brand. In my humble opinion, if you’re unable to differentiate between watches in this way, that’s probably a sign that you should work on increasing your knowledge of watches.

There’s a spectacular scene in The Devil Wears Prada where a team of fashion editors is deciding which blue belt goes best with a particular outfit, and the protagonist (the newly hired assistant) remarks that the belts all look the same to her. Unsurprisingly, she gets thoroughly chewed out by her boss and starts to realise the importance of educating herself before feeling entitled to give an opinion. It’s one of the best scenes in that movie.

Far be it from me to reprimand anyone who thinks the Defy Skyline looks like the Royal Oak. There are lots of people out there who aren’t that interested in watches and they shouldn’t be expected to care about what makes each watch distinct and unique. But if you do care, and you are interested in knowing what makes each watch special, I’m glad you’re with us; I’m glad you’re part of the WorldTempus family.


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