Hands-On – The New Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Following the Defy Skyline collection launch last year, Zenith returns to the LVMH Watch Week 2023 with a skeletonised proposal, taking the brand’s luxury sports watch with an integrated bracelet one step beyond. Beating to an El Primero high-frequency 3-hand movement revealed under symmetrical bridges, the Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton is also the first skeletonised watch in the world to feature a 1/10th of a second indication. Here’s what to know.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Defi or Defy?

The Defy collection is invariably touted as Zenith’s vision of the future direction of watchmaking, defined by innovative materials and movements married to more futuristic styles. What might come as a surprise is that a marketing team did not dream up the name of this collection; it was used by Zenith in 1902 for a line of robust and precise pocket watches but spelt Defi.

Zenith Defy Revival A3642
Old vs. New – The Original model (here a next to the new Zenith Defy Revival A3642

In 1969, Zenith launched the world’s first automatic high-frequency chronograph movement – El Primero – and with somewhat less fanfare, also introduced a heavy-duty model with an angular octagonal case and a crazy tetradecagonal (14-sided) bezel. Christened the Defy and described as a ‘vault’, this robust beast of a watch offered varying degrees of water-resistance – from 300 to 600m – and was fitted with a patented suspension system and flexible elastic shock-absorbing rings. With its radically edgy architecture – don’t forget, this was three years before Genta’s Royal Oak launch, the Defy also flaunted a gradient dial.

Zenith Defy Revival A3642

Revived in 2022, the Defy Revival A3642 is, if you like, the spiritual forefather of the Skyline collection. Combining the skeletonisation we have seen in the Zenith Defy Classic family with the robustness of the A3642, Zenith proves that skeletonised watches can take a beating.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Sturdy Defy Case

The case of the latest Skyline to join the family is identical to the non-skeletonised Skyline models of 2022. By taming some of the edginess of the A3642, the Skyline beckons with its more contemporary and stylised case. Presented in a 41mm stainless steel case with a height of 11.6mm, the case is still angular, octagonal and robust – with 100m water-resistance – but is now surmounted by a 12-sided faceted bezel. A 12-sided bezel is a clever solution because it works as an extension of the hour markers. The brightly polished bevels attract light to the case and contrast with the sportier brushed surfaces.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Symmetry of The Dial

It might be skeletonised, but the colour still plays a role here, and the Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton is available with blue or black bridges and accents. The symmetrical openworked bridges that form a four-pointed star are blue or black and offer a generous view of the movement, complete with a 3D Zenith star suspended between the bridges at noon.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

The chapter ring with applied, faceted and rhodium-plated hour markers has contrasting white minute markings, and the indices are filled with Super-LumiNova SLN C1, like the central hour and minute hands. However, in a departure from the closed dial versions of the Skyline, the 1/10th of a second counter is now placed at 6 o’clock. By changing its position to 6 o’clock, the 1/10th of a second counter doesn’t hide the turquoise silicon escapement at 9 o’clock. Another difference with the closed-dial Skyline is the elimination of the date window.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Calibre El Primero 3620

The El Primero 3620 SK (SK for skeletonised) is a 3-hand version built with a similar architecture to the El Primero 3600 1/10th of a second chronograph inside the Chronomaster Sport and Chronomaster Original. Beating at 5Hz/36,000vph, this high-frequency movement allows for the 1/10th of a second display which takes its energy directly from the escapement. Fitted with a stop-seconds mechanism for precise time-setting, the star-shaped bidirectional rotor delivers a power reserve of 60 hours and is blue or black, depending on the model.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Interchangeable Strap-Bracelet

The Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton comes with an easy-to-operate interchangeable strap system allowing you to remove the stainless steel bracelet via a pusher on the caseback and snapping in a rubber strap. Both models come with integrated stainless steel bracelets, an additional black or blue rubber strap with embossed Zenith stars in the centre, and folding buckles.

Availability & Price

The Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton is available at the brand’s boutiques and authorised retailers worldwide. The retail price is CHF 10,900 or EUR 11,800. For more information, please visit Zenith-watches.com.


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