The Zenith DEFY Midnight is a (very) early contender for women’s collection of the yearAndrew McUtchen
The standout from the new Zenith 2020 novelties is hands down the DEFY Midnight collection. What immediately caught my attention was that Zenith were leading their 2020 new releases with a women’s collection that appeared — in the preamble — to not only be a new product in itself, with various attributes, but for those attributes to be assembled around a strong concept, albeit a very simple one. And that is, an evocation of the night sky on the dial. Hardly groundbreaking in theory, but when played out, it actually has plenty of poetic detail to incorporate.
One remains sceptical about new concepts in watch collections. Long bows are almost always drawn. But immediately in the metal I was impressed. The concept iterates in the graduation of the sky at dusk; the way the colour intensifies from the horizon up to the heavens. The immediate comparison is the Rolex James Cameron Deepsea Sea-Dweller, which has a similar concept in reverse — the deepening and darkening of colour as you descend to the depths of the ocean.
The navy blue variant — the eponymous model from the collection as it best evokes ‘midnight’ in terms of its night sky — starts at the bottom of the galvanised blue dial in a lighter shade and then sweeps up almost indiscernibly to black at the top half. What’s interesting, if you really want to geek out on the detail, is that despite this ‘bottom to top’ vertical graduation of colour, the dial is still radially brushed which better lends itself — you might argue — to an ‘inside to out’ concentric graduation in the manner of the Chopard Alpine Eagle, or most H. Moser & Cie fumé dials.
That said, it adds an interesting twist as you have a slight dissonance in the direction of the eye as you try to drink in the dial — both bottom to top as you follow the spectrum of colour, and inside out as you follow the radial brushing of the galvanic dial.
So, yes, my neural activity was very high taking in the DEFY Midnight for the first time! Adding to the intrigue is the ‘surprise and delight’ fact that a random selection of the pad-printed stars, which are sprinkled on the dial from about two-thirds of the way down the dial, are luminous.
Combined with the 1.48 cts worth of diamond indices and bezel, this coheres as a sparkling, stunning proposition that — in my humble, and male, opinion — presents as an early contender for the women’s watch collection of the year. Not just for its glittering, feminine presence via the diamonds and strong use of colour, but for the sheer attention to detail — the amount of careful consideration — that has gone into the ways it does indeed evoke a night sky.
I haven’t even mentioned the other two models, which are also — and I mean this word in all its melodrama — sublime in their own way. The grey variant is smoky, mysterious and reminiscent of perfectly applied eye-shadow, and the mother-of-pearl variant, while lacking the horizon play of the blue and grey, has a sensual translucency that combines with yet more colour play, care of the reverse side of the mother-of-pearl being painted to add evening sunset sky hues of pink and soft grey to the equation.