What’s with the headline? Zenith and… scones?
Yes, I’ll admit it may sound confusing at first but one of the greatest pleasures in life is to combine the two. For starters, get a Zenith. In my case, the white Defy Classic Ceramic. Then, combine that with some quality jam and scones and let’s just say that I’d have no regrets if tomorrow never comes. Now, exaggerations aside, the above mentioned watch is really one of the few timepieces that I’d consider adding to my personal collection. Here’s the best part – it’s everything that I don’t usually like in a watch and yet… I’m in love.
How did I even stumble upon this beautiful, chaotic work of art in the first place? Well, just recently, yours truly was privileged enough to have been invited by the good folks at Zenith Malaysia for afternoon tea. For what?! Yes, you heard me. Tea. Afternoon tea with scones and French macaroons and frosted cherries you could pop in one bite. The real reason, however, is to get to grips with Zenith’s Baselworld 2019 Novelties. The debutants include the Zenith El Primero A386 Revival series, the Pilot Type 20 Adventure (and Chronograph Adventure), the Defy Double Tourbillon, the Defy El Primero 21 Carbon and of course, the Defy Inventor.
So, without further ado, let’s jump into it. *slathers jam all over scone*
The Zenith El Primero A386 Revival in white gold
It’s weird how life works out, huh? We’re celebrating the 50th anniversary of the El Primero but at the same time, we’re throwing a party to commemorate the Moon landings which, of course, features that other chronograph. In any case, this is the real star right here. For starters, three variants are available. First is the white gold model you see here, followed by a rose gold and one more in yellow gold. All three measure 38 mm – exactly the same as the original. What original, you ask?
So, back in 1969, Zenith introduced the El Primero A386 with the 5 Hz (!) 3019 PHC movement. Mind you, that number is still impressive by today’s standards and even more so back then because at that point in time, the El Primero was the first (and only) high-beat chronograph. Fast forward to 2019 and we’re looking at a watch with the Caliber El Primero 400 – a movement that can trace its roots to the original caliber 3019 PHC. See the significance now? This particular movement is almost as old as… well, the republic of Singapore.
The main surface differences between the revived model and the original are simply the addition of a domed sapphire crystal and an exhibition caseback. Inside, the 31-jeweled Caliber El Primero 400 beats at 5 Hz (d’uh!) and has a power reserve of 50 hours. Also, in keeping to the numerical theme, the watch is offered with a 50-year guarantee and each gold option is limited to 50 pieces worldwide. Moving on, the lug width spans 19 mm across – again like the original. The stock black alligator strap comes with a color-matching 18k gold pin buckle. Water resistance is rated at a more than decent 100 m. Price? That’ll be RM77,000, thank you very much.
The Defy El Primero 21 Carbon
Next is one I like to refer to as the bad as* of the Zenith line-up. As its name might suggest, the highlight here is the inclusion of carbon in the entire construction of the watch case. Yes, that includes the pushers, crown and caseback. Elsewhere, things are more or less the same as the original Defy El Primero 21 released in 2017. Inside the carbon case beats the 53-jeweled El Primero 9004 movement – a caliber with two escapements. The first being a 5 Hz unit used for timekeeping and whose balance wheel is visible at the 7:30 mark. Moving on, the second 50 Hz escapement is for the chronograph assembly.
Power reserve is quoted at 55 hours with water resistance rated at 100 m. The accompanying strap on this particular watch is a black rubber unit with “cordura effect” elements. No idea what any of that is supposed to mean but I can say for sure that the strap is extremely pliable and comfortable. As far as legibility goes, well, the hint of red and white should (?) make things a tad easier, I reckon. How much for this, then? You’re looking at tag of CHF18,900 (RM81,197).
Zenith Pilot Type 20 Adventure
For obvious aesthetic reasons, the Pilot Type 20 Adventure is a tad different from the rest of the line up on display during tea. For starters, it looks like a watch most people can relate to. The massive dark green dial is festooned with large Arabic numerals (fully coated with Super-LumiNova) and broad Cathedral hands. As far as simplicity and legibility goes, this one takes the cake (or macaroon).
The bronze case measures 45 mm and within it beats the Elite 679 movement. The 4 Hz caliber has a power reserve of at least 50 hours and the watch is water resistant up to depths of 100 m. Flipping it over reveals a solid titanium caseback stamped with the Zenith Flying Instruments insignia. As for strap options, you’ve got the choice between a camouflaged alligator leather unit or a khaki “matrix” calfskin strap. No matter which one you opt for, both straps have a protective rubber lining and a titanium pin buckle.
Price wise, we’re looking at CHF7,400 (RM31,774) while the Type 20 Chronograph Adventure goes for CHF7,900 (RM33,921). So, a bargain compared to the rest so far. 😉
Zenith’s Defy Classic Ceramic
Okay, I’ll be clear from the get go. The one in white is my favourite from the entire afternoon. Aesthetically, this watch ticks all the boxes that I DO NOT want in a timepiece and yet, it somehow works. I’m sorry but there’s just no way of explaining it. The black is stealthy, yes, and the blue is somewhat safe (maybe even a bit underwhelming) but the white version is so catchy it almost borders on being gaudy.
Personal choices aside, all three come in a ceramic case that measures 41 mm and wears surprisingly smaller than the figures might suggest. The in-house Elite 670 SK movement is visible through the exhibition caseback and openworked dial. Said movement beats at a rate of 4 Hz and offers at least 50 hours of power reserve. Look closer and you’ll be able to spot the date display at the 6 o’clock mark – an element that’s smartly hidden out in the open thanks to a busy overall look. Water resistance is rated at 100 m.
While the movement is nothing to be scoffed at, the highlight here is the ceramic construction. Due to the nature of said material, you’re gonna’ need a lot of effort to scratch up the surface of this watch. As a result, you could technically wear the Defy Classic Ceramic everyday for several years and it’ll look box fresh at the end of the day still. The other part of the watch that really caught my attention is the rubber strap supplied with it.
Said strap is of HNBR standard. Also known as hydrogenated acrylonitrile butadiene rubber, it is a unique form of elastomer that withstands exposure to oils and chemicals a lot better than regular rubber. The accompanying clasp is a double-folding titanium unit with a ceramic insert.
The Zenith Defy Inventor
Last and most certainly not least, is the Zenith Defy Inventor. One word sums up this watch – the Oscillator. First seen on the Zenith Defy Lab, the Zenith Oscillator is essentially an all-in-one silicon solution to combining the uses of the balance wheel, balance spring and lever. Long story short, there is no need for a traditional regulator setup. Also, because so many parts have been rendered useless, mechanical wear and the need for lubrication is pretty much zero. Additionally, the use of silicon means that there’s fantastic anti-magnetic properties and a high resistant to extreme temperatures.
The oscillator is paired to the Zenith Calibre 9100 and beats at 18 Hz. Power reserve is rated at around 50 hours and the movement is triple certified. What that means is that you’ve got the chronometer certification by Timelab, anti-magnetic resistance as per ISO-7644 rating and certified to be insensitive to temperature as per ISO-3159.
Of course, the entire show is on display within the 44 mm titanium case with Aeronith bezel. Thanks to the openworked dial, you’ll be able to witness some pretty epic… err, oscillations. Flip the watch over and the colour theme continues on with a blue, star-shaped rotor visible beneath the exhibition caseback. The strap is a black-blue rubber unit with “cordura effect” and grey contrast stitching paired to a double-folding titanium clasp.
Another difference between the Inventor and the Defy Lab is the availability. While the latter was more of a concept watch and was limited to 10 pieces, the Defy Inventor will be produced in “several hundred units.” As for the price, you’re looking at around CHF17,900 (RM76,957).
*burp* Tea time’s over…
If you’ve been keeping track, you might notice that some of the Novelties are missing. In particular, the Zenith Defy Double Tourbillon. According to Zenith Malaysia, this is because the nearest available unit is currently doing its rounds in Singapore. Still, this session has been absolutely stellar, more so when the organizing committee decided to segment each viewing session to a maximum cap so everyone can have a go at the watches on display.
Once again, here’s another round of applause to the ones at Zenith Malaysia for putting this together! Next tea session on me!