Purple reign, purple reign: Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet, a high-frequency colour for a high-frequency chronoAndrew McUtchen
Watch press releases are guilty of purple prose on a daily basis. But you can forgive Zenith a poetic, purple turn of phrase or two here, because what they have brought together in the Defy 21 Ultraviolet – which is the highest frequency colour with a high frequency chronograph, able to measure time to 1/100th of a second. Touché Zenith’s storytelling department. The Defy 21 Ultraviolet is the first standalone Defy 21 with a skeletonised dial paired with closed chronograph counters. The Defy 21 El Primero 50th Anniversary edition is the other option, but it was only available as a box-set with two other watches,
Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet continues a streak of skeletonisation and innovation
This continues the Defy 21’s trailblazing catalogue, which is a counterpoint to the brand’s recent deluge of revival models off the back of the 50th Anniversary of the El Primero movement, which wrapped up just a few weeks back with the Manufacture Edition. Where the heritage collections are alive and very well at Zenith, in that they are increasingly faithful renditions (CEO Julien Tornare saw it fit to re-release the A384 in 1:1 as opposed to previous models which enlarged it for modern tastes), the Defy 21 is defiantly modern and of this time.
The press release surmises: “If all the colours that our eyes can perceive are to be considered as frequencies of visible light, then violet has the highest frequency of them all, beyond which is invisible ultraviolet light. It was only natural to pair this intense, energetic colour with the highest-frequency chronograph in regular production, the Defy 21.”
Claimed to be a world-first in watchmaking, Zenith has treated an automatic chronograph movement in the regal and lush tones of violet. I do recall a Maurice Lacroix Gravity from 2015 with a similar toned violet-treated escapement, though to Zenith’s point, not a chronograph and also does not extend to the bridges.
The purple-treated bridges of the movement have the effect of providing stark contrast for other components to stand out. The faceted 44mm case of the Defy is just the fourth model in the Zenith catalogue to receive a matte sandblasted finish, bringing depth and tactility to the titanium.
The black rubber strap is stitched with a woven textile upper side, also in purple. The skeletonised dial features three chronograph registers and a flange ring in sombre grey, which lights up the violet-treated open, angular bridges. A white-tipped central 1/100th of a second chronograph hand makes a journey of the dial in a single second.