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The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 ranked among the most exciting watch launches of Baselworld 2017. With a new full ceramic case, a full black ceramic bracelet to match, and the critically-acclaimed caliber 9004 El Primero, this is the Zenith sports watch that watch buyers have demanded. Zenith watches are built to last and engineered to please; the black ceramic element ensures that this scratch resistant watch remains pleasing for years to come.
For 2018, full ceramic emerges as the flagship offering in the Defy El Primero 21 collection. Priced at a reasonable $15,100 U.S. when new, the watch becomes even more compelling when pre-owned.
Black ceramic effectively is as scratch resistant as a sapphire crystal, and watch collectors can expect comparable durability from the case, bezel, clasp, and bracelet of this new Zenith offering. For good measure, Zenith has finished the components with the same satin and polished surfaces seen on the standard titanium Defy El Primero.
A black ceramic bracelet matches the case. It includes a double deployant clasp with trigger release. The bracelet is fully integrated with the form of the case for a Gerald Genta-esque full-watch form. Accessory straps and deployant clasps are available for those with a taste for strap options.
An open dial – shades of Hublot, true, but it’s warranted – reveals the heart of the Zenith caliber 9004. Technically an El Primero, this movement includes the automatic winding, 50-hour power reserve, and 36,000 vibration per hour beat rate of Zenith’s classic chronograph. But alongside, an independent chronograph operates with a 50-minute power reserve, a 360,000 VpH esapement, its own balance wheel, and a power reserve indicator; the 1/100th of a second foudroyante hand dazzles onlookers.
Additional details of the Zenith caliber 9004 include efficient unidirectional winding and a hacking (stop seconds) function; neither feature is present on a traditional El Primero chronograph. Zenith certifies each caliber 9004 as a COSC recognized Swiss chronometer. The 53-jewel movement is protected with 100-meters of water resistance.
Both power reserves can be wound manually, but the chronograph function must be wound manually with the crown. Truth be told, there’s more than a small measure of Guy Semon and TAG Heuer’s haute-de-gamme Calibre 360 in this Zenith chronograph, but the infusion of LVMH corporate wealth must be judged a success.
Zenith’s open dial reveals the skeletonized caliber 9004, its bridges, plates, and both frenetic balance wheels. The unlubricated silicon escapement of the primary drivetrain (time) glistens in iridescent blue and purple; the mainspring barrel for the chronograph sits prominently at 12 o’clock. Although super luniminova luninant paint is employed, it is of the faint black variety; this is a watch best suited to the light of day.
The Zenith DEFY El Primero 21 Chronograph features a 44mm black ceramic case surrounding a skeletonized dial on a matching full black ceramic bracelet. Functions include hours, minutes, small-seconds, power reserve indicator and chronograph.
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