The Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma II is another high-tech taste of the rainbow The Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma II is another high-tech taste of the rainbow

The Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma II is another high-tech taste of the rainbow

Jamie Weiss
  • Zenith’s colourful limited edition from last year has returned, this time in black ceramic too
  • The white variant now features a subtly different colour gradation
  • An El Primero movement and openworked dial provides plenty of visual drama

There’s just something undeniably fun and alluring about a rainbow watch. There’s a sort of horseshoe effect with these things: they’re so outlandish and crass that they swing around and become cool again. What’s undeniable is that they’re always eye-catching – and let’s be real – isn’t part of the joy of wearing a high-end watch turning people’s heads? Most rainbow watches achieve this effect with gems, decking out bezels and bracelets with rainbow-gradated precious stones. Zenith, however, took a slightly different approach to the rainbow watch last year when they released the DEFY 21 Chroma, which embellished their already striking openworked El Primero movement with rainbow-coloured elements and contrasted it with a white ceramic case in an incredibly palpable package. Now, in 2023, Zenith has brought back the Chroma, this time in two different variants: a new black ceramic model as well as another white ceramic model, which features a subtle and somewhat Millennial twist.

Let’s talk about the black model first, which is identical to the Chroma I, just in black micro blasted ceramic instead of matte white ceramic. In many ways, it’s essentially a more sober version of the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone limited edition of 2021, which also combined a black ceramic case with rainbow elements. Yeah, it’s still a bit bonkers, but compared to the Felipe Pantone model, the Defy 21 Chroma II’s chronograph function is a little more functional (which you’d expect considering the former is an art watch).

Speaking of which, the El Primero 21 automatic high-frequency 1/100th of a second chronograph movement is a one well-loved by watch aficionados thanks to the unbelievable speed of its chronograph hand, which completes a full rotation of the dial in a second. Add in a bunch of rainbow highlights, and you’ve got a seriously arrestive timepiece on your hands.

While the black Chroma II features a rainbow based on the primary colours, the white Chroma II features brighter accents with an emphasis on blues and pinks, differentiating it from the Chroma I. It seems the Millennial pink craze just won’t die! Compared to the black model’s micro blasted ceramic case, the matte ceramic used on the white Chroma II (as well as the OG Chroma I) has a striking, architectural look that resembles marble and complements the more subdued, pastel rainbow gradation of this model.

Both the black and the white Chroma II feature openworked dials with raised chronograph counters matching the cases’ colours, underneath which the inner workings of their El Primero 21 movements can be admired. These movements feature bridges and other components coated in rainbow-coloured metallic PVD finishes, which are colour-matched to complement their position relative to each model’s hour markers as well as rainbow gradations – for instance, the black Chroma II features orange, green and cobalt blue movement components while the white features light blue and dark blue components.

Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma II pricing and availability

The Zenith DEFY 21 Chroma II is available now in both black and white, limited to 500 pieces of each colour. The DEFY 21 Chroma II in white ceramic is only available at Zenith boutiques and selected retailers around the world, while the black ceramic edition is available at all Zenith-authorized points of sale. Price: US$15,600

Brand Zenith
Model Defy 21 Chroma II
Case Dimensions 44mm (D) x 14.5mm (T) x 50mm (LTL)
Case Material Black micro blasted ceramic Matte white ceramic
Water Resistance 100 metres
Crystal(s) Sapphire on both sides
Dial Openworked with rainbow highlights
Strap Colour-matched rubber strap with rainbow stitching, titanium folding clasp
Movement El Primero 9004, in-house, cam-actuated chronograph, automatic
Power Reserve 50 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, 1/100th of a second chronograph, power reserve
Availability Limited to 500 in each colourway
Price US$15,600