ON THE WRIST : Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton

A couple of months ago, we introduced Zenith’s new 2018 Defy Classic. Coming in a 41mm-sized titanium case, it is available in two variants;  one with a skeletonised dial, and one with a sunburst blue dial. Both models have applied hour markers that are rhodium-plated and faceted, and coated with Super-LumiNova. Hour and minute hands are also lumed.

Without having seen them ‘in the metal’ at the time, I wrote that of the two models, the skeleton model seemed not just more interesting but to my mind, also more attractive, with its modern angular line approach to skeletonising movements and pleasing symmetry. With blue being such a popular dial colour choice, particularly for simple classic dress watches, it is a difficult ‘eye ball space’ in which to grab a potential customer’s attention. You really need a very distinctive blue dial. Now, having been able to go ‘hands-on’ with both models, my preference has been confirmed.

I had the opportunity, with thanks to Zenith Australia, to have some ‘on the wrist’ time with the new Defy Skeleton.

Zenith’s heritage is about movements, so that should be mentioned first. Inside the new Defy Classics is the in-house Calibre Elite 670 SK, modified with a silicon pallet lever and escape wheel, and with satin-brushed finishing to its rotor. It beats at 28,800VPH and has a fifty hour power reserve.

From the front, the movement of the skeletonised model shows some attractive contrast, with parts that have been treated to a darker colour to show a highly stylised star. Its open-worked dial is circled by a blue minute ring and large applied hour markers coated with Super-LumiNova. The date is now at 6 o’clock, in the form of a cut-out date disc.

If you have been reading this site for awhile, you will know that wrist comfort is something that I mention a bit. Stating that a watch is a 41mm titanium case does not give me an indication of how it sits on the wrist, and one can never tell how a buckle or clasp will feel just from photos.

The Defy Classic comes with the choice of an integrated titanium bracelet, rubber strap coated with alligator leather, or a rubber strap. The one I spent time wearing came on the second of these, and to put it in a nutshell, it was a very comfortable watch to wear on a daily basis.

The titanium case is, as expected, light, but what made it so easy on the wrist was a combination of lightness, how slim it is, the way the strap integrates into the essentially lugless case, and the curvature of the strap, which sat snugly around my wrist. In fact it didn’t sit on my wrist so much as curved nicely around it. The texture of the strap was also something of note; it felt like a dressy but semi-sporty strap, the type of leather strap that I could comfortably wear during a hot Sydney summer.

Skeletonised watches can vary hugely in terms of ‘at a glance’ legibility for basic time telling. For this watch there are no issues, with the white lume filling the hands a major reason for this. The date at 6 o’clock is almost easily forgotten because it is been so seamlessly incorporated into the open worked dial side. It will probably take you a couple of mental reminders as to where to look at first first.

I enjoyed wearing this watch far more than I had expected I would. I don’t mean that I thought that I wouldn’t like it, but I had assumed that I would put it on and then just go about my daily business. It is quite an attractive watch, and with the angular skeletonisation and mix of polished and brushed finishing, very photogenic. I found myself repeatedly looking at it, and trying to take wristshots. It is also a very versatile piece that can be dressed up or down on this strap option.

So who would this appeal to? If you’re looking at getting a Zenith that is not a pilot, if you want a modern looking skeletonised watch, or if you’re just looking for something different and a little cool but with a brand pedigree backing at this price point, then it’s worth taking a look.

It is now available to order from Australian authorised dealers. The Australian RRP is $9,100 on a strap and $10,500 on the titanium bracelet.

Categories: Baselworld 2018, Hands-on, On the wrist, Sydney, watches, Zenith

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