The Zenith Defy Revival Shadow brings modern noir to a vintage designZach Blass
The Zenith Defy Revival was initially born as a tribute to the original Defy born in 1969. Years after its release, Gerald Genta would go on to initiate an octaganol watch design craze and many today poke holes in modern homage designs that rest a bit too much on these laurels. But, this original Defy was born before these designs, and its distinct look is the result of an octagonal case with a fourteen-sided bezel – nicknamed upon its introduction the ‘bank vault’. The modern Defy Revival, for a time, was limited to configurations that pulled directly from the archives with nearly 1:1 recreations. This Defy Revival Shadow, however, is the first within the collection to inject more of a modern feel.
To be clear, its framework faithfully remains 37mm in diameter, 13.6mm thick, and 44mm lug-to-lug. Its form remains distinct, funky, and groovy in a way only late 60s design can offer. Where it has its more modern crossover is through its usage of microblasted titanium for both the case and ladder bracelet. I can say from experience, not only from wearing this Defy Revival Shadow for a week, but also our Defy Classic Skeleton ‘Night Surfer’ Time+Tide Edition for years, that the material is very lightweight and highly scratch-resistant. The microblasted surface, should you impact it hard enough to cause some sort of blemishing, really hides it well – far better than brushed or polished surfaces would.
As a testament on behalf of the robustness of the material, my Defy Classic Skeleton ‘Night Surfer’ Time+Tide Edition, a longstanding daily wearer go-to of mine, has yet to even garner a minor scratch – and I have played tennis wearing it. Unless you are already familiar with the model, both past and present, it is quite surprising when you learn this Defy Revival Shadow is 300-metres water-resitant with a screw-down crown. I cannot really call it a dive watch without the presence of a timing bezel, but this unexpected yet welcome level of water resistance means this watch not only offers a point of visual distinction in anyones collection but also provides a favoured spec-set that, in conjuction with its case and bracelet material, means you could treat this like a dive watch within the scope of your collection
The previous Defy Revival models used the same colourful gradient dials of the original models. This Shadow configuration, however, is an exercise in monochromatic stealth with a subtly shiny matte black dial. Just within the white outer minutes track, applied grooved indices glisten with their faceted surfaces. Adjacent to each index is a luminous pip, with the lume on all three central hands and the hour indices executed in an aged faux-tina SuperLuminova hue. The controversial 4:30 date placement may irk some, but it is faithful to the original 1969 design, allows for all hours to have applied indices, and, quite frankly, with a white on black disc it blends seamlessly into the dial. As you can see from all of our hands-on shots, the bubbly sapphire crystal does create some glare under intense light. But, I have never found its legibility to be a problem while worn.
A titanium bracelet is already very lightweight, but the ladder bracelet is that much lighter with its removal of conventional centre-links. It also allows the wrist airrate well and keep cool while worn in warmer weather. Each link is secured by screws, and the clasp features a generous number of holes for micro-adjustment. I personally really enjoy the look, fit, and feel of the ladder bracelet. I wish it were available as a factory configuration for the Zenith Chronomaster Sport.
Inside and exhibited beneath the caseback is the in-house automatic Elite 670 movement, which offers a solid 50 hours of power reserve. While industrially finished, it is finished well enough with circular striping and perlage that I find the calibre worthy of exhibition. I do wish, however, that Zenith would use a silicon escapement in the standard 670 movement as they do with the 670 SK found in skeletonized references like the Night Surfer.
Ultimately, this watch is, in my book, an awesome choice for those who do not want to wear something that looks like everything else. Someone with quirk and personality, looking for a watch that also shares these characteristics. Perhaps this is the very reason Will Ferrell gravitated towards the Defy Revival – spotted often wearing his steel model with a burgundy gradient dial. This particular model is, however, showcases a modern reinterpretation that is faithful to the original framework but speaks to modern sensibilities with a stealthier black scheme and the robustness of modern microblasted titanium.
Zenith Defy Revival Shadow pricing and availability
The Zenith Defy Revival Shadow is available now for purchase. Price: A$11,200, US$7,400
|Model||Defy Revival Shadow|
|Case Dimensions||37mm (D) x 13.6mm (T) x 44mm (LTL)|
|Case Material||Microblasted titanium|
|Bracelet/Strap||Microblasted titanium ‘ladder’ bracelet|
|Movement||Elite 670 automatic|
|Power Reserve||50 hours|
|Functions||Hours, minutes, seconds, date|