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Zenith - An extreme proposition

Zenith An extreme proposition

Zenith’s new Defy Extreme goes full throttle in robust sports watches.

The main point that everyone seems to make about high-frequency watch escapements is that they impart better timekeeping precision. A 4Hz (28,800vph) oscillator can accurately measure one eighth of a second, a 5Hz (36,000vph) oscillator can accurately measure one tenth of a second, a 10Hz (72,000vph) oscillator can accurately measure one twentieth of a second, and so on and so forth. This sort of timing accuracy is important in areas like sports, or scientific experimentation, or bidding for stuff on eBay, where fractions of a second can spell the difference between glorious success and crushing failure.

An extreme proposition

Defy Extreme © Zenith

Here’s the thing, though. The average human reaction time to visual stimuli is one quarter of a second, which tells us that most people are about as reactive as a 2Hz (14,400vph) oscillator. In other words, unless you’re an Austrian-accented cybernetic humanoid bounty hunter sent back from an apocalyptic future or the bullet-dodging prophesied liberator of humanity from robot-controlled bioelectric farms (I fervently wish my pop culture references were more cheerful and actually from this millennium), even a normal mechanical chronograph — let alone a high-frequency one — is probably beyond your ability to use in any meaningful way.

So what actual value does a high-frequency chronograph bring to anyone’s life? The answer is: shock resistance. We humans are an inept bunch. We make abrupt movements, we fall over our own feet, we crash into stuff while distracted, we have very little awareness of where our own limbs are at any moment (as evidenced by the number of toes suffering massive blunt-force trauma inflicted by stationary furniture every morning). Even an Olympic-level gymnast has less agility than, say, your grandma’s overfed house cat. Our watches need to be fortified against this kind of epic clumsiness.  

Enter the new Zenith Defy Extreme in titanium. The movement that we first saw in the Defy 21, with its 5Hz (36,000vph) timekeeping balance and 50Hz (360,000vph) chronograph balance is now encased in an ultra-rugged case design of 45mm in diameter. You might say that the trend now is to have smaller case sizes, but that’s why Zenith released the 41mm Zenith Chronomaster Sport earlier this year. This watch we’re talking about here is called the Zenith Defy Extreme, not the Zenith Defy Moderate or the Zenith Defy Play-It-Safe.

High-frequency balances recover better from shocks, and they are harder to disrupt in the first place. It’s the same principle in play that makes slow-moving bicyclists easier to shove into the bushes than high-speed velocipedists. Please do not take it upon yourself to test this statement out. Or if you must, at least do not tell people you got the idea from me.

An extreme proposition

Defy Extreme © Zenith

The colour-contrasting 12-sided ring placed between case (eight sides) and bezel (round, therefore infinite number of sides) acts as a natural visual transition between the two. Furthermore, it provides a subtle yet effective boost to the legibility of the dial. The 12 sides of this component are aligned with the 12 hour markers, essentially functioning as extra-large, extra-visible hour indications, thus allowing the time to be ascertained even with a lightning-quick glance — very useful in situations where it’s crucial to keep your eyes on the road. The watch is water resistant to 200m, with strap options designed to accompany you into any kind of weather conditions (titanium bracelet, buckle-fastened rubber strap, Velcro-fastened textile strap). Large, prominent pushers make it easy to activate the chronograph even if you’re turbo-blasting down the rockiest, most uneven road in the world whilst dodging landslides and maniacal pursuers.

In short, the Zenith Defy Extreme would be the perfect watch if you and your buddies one day decide to recreate a live-action version of Mario Kart. A highly readable, lightweight, splash-proof, shock-resistant chronograph in a geometric, polygonal case with bright contrasting colours and easy-to-activate pushers. What’s more, the movement is literally called El Primero, “The First”. If that doesn’t bring out the champion in you, I don’t know what will.


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