The new Zenith Defy Extreme might seem like a simple upgrade to the regular Defy 21, adding a bit more “beef” to the recipe to make things stronger, but I think it was a necessary step to diversify the character of the line.
Zenith has been firing on all cylinders ever since the launch of the Chronomaster Sport at the beginning of 2021, and it has begun to build a cohesive personality quite apart from the already legendary El Primero movement that everyone knows them for.
In the new Defy Extreme, the moves have been straightforward and welcome – grow out the case from a regular Defy 21 at 43mm to a larger 45mm in the Defy Extreme, add new guards for the chronograph pushers, and then use the bigger case and a new screw-down crown to increase water resistance to 200m.
It’s an Zenith El Primero that is built tougher, which should allay the concerns of owners of the watch who want to bring their watch into environments that are harsher than normal. It’s not to say that the older Defy 21 was a slouch in the toughness department though, being 100m water resistant and in titanium. This new Extreme version though, with its overbuilt exterior and special features, should give owners less pause when out and about.
Each watch will come with three straps included – rubber, velcro and titanium bracelet, that can be interchanged easily with the new Easy strap change system. It works via a push button on the underside of the case that releases the strap. I tried it myself, and although it was a little difficult to push on account of the watch being new, I was able to release the strap within 10 seconds.
There are three variations of the Defy Extreme at launch. A version in titanium with blue sub-dials, another in micro-blasted black titanium with black sub-dials, and the most luxurious one, a version in micro-blasted black titanium with a rose gold bezel and matching rose gold accents, including the hands, indices and Zenith star.
This version is easily the most aesthetically striking one, and would be my pick of the bunch especially when worn on the wondrously light matching titanium bracelet.
It’s nice to talk about Zenith without mentioning too much about the El Primero 9004 Automatic movement that it carries, because we know it’s there, and we know it’s amazing. But every once in a while, when you engage the pusher, you realize that, for all the aesthetic features you enjoy on the exterior of the watch, it’s a shock when you see the one rotation per second of the chrono hand, to be reminded of the formidable chronograph legacy of the El Primero.