Zenith has dubbed its new 44 mm Defy watch “Urban Jungle” ($14,500) to reflect its khaki green ceramic case, but also to suggest it was intended for hip pavement-pounding city dwellers. It’s one of several new Defy models released over the past three years that represent Zenith’s aim to reposition the collection around the concept of new technology and modern design.
The crux of the redesigned collection is the elite caliber 9004, a high-beat 36,000 vph movement loaded with a separate gear train running at 360,000 vph for a 1/100th chronograph function (the central seconds hand whips around the dial once every second!). Design-wise, recent models have been consistently avant-garde, including ultraviolet dial plates, openworked movements and even gem applications. The new Defy Urban Jungle, with a 9004 movement and a high-tech khaki green ceramic case is the latest manifestation of the formula.
Zenith is the originator of the high-frequency movement, and the caliber 9004, first introduced in the Defy 21 in 2017, epitomizes that strength. The openworked dial emphasizes the sophistication of the movement, and watching the central seconds hand rotate once every hundredth of a second is impressive. When it stops, the scale on the bezel records the exact elapsed time to a 1/100th of a second. The black subdial ring at 6 o’clock records elapsed chronograph seconds, the silver ring at 3 o’clock is a 30-minute totalizer. The running seconds for the time is clocked by the three-armed hand at 9 o’clock. The power reserve for the chronograph is 50 minutes, which is clocked at 12 o’clock. The power reserve for the running time is 50 hours.
The khaki green ceramic case is its own technical feat because colored ceramic is more complex to produce than standard black or white ceramic . “The production team was probably cursing me,” says Zenith CEO Julien Tornare. But the aesthetic result is right on point for the Defy: high-tech with plenty of style. The main plate is also colored khaki green, as is the star-shaped rotor, visible through the caseback. Ensuring the color schematics touch every surface, the strap comes in a khaki green cordura pattern, styled to look like Nato strap fabric and resting on top of grey rubber, and a titanium folding clasp. As for the practical matters, the hands and hour markers are coated in Super-LumiNova for readability at night and the watch is water-resistant to 100 meters.
“I don’t just want to repeat the past,” says Tornare. “I want to create new things and to bring a more contemporary aspect to the brand. Defy is kind of a laboratory for new things, so within this collection, I can do all the crazy things I want, I can do limited editions, special series, the Urban Jungle. I can have fun and it’s the creative part.”