Casually showing off with the Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph (live pics) Casually showing off with the Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph (live pics)

Casually showing off with the Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph (live pics)

Buffy Acacia
  • The Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph collection finally brings the El Primero into a casual yet playful setting.
  • The automatic El Primero 3600 beats at 5Hz and is capable of measuring tenths of a second.
  • Initially available in blue, black, and silver, they’re priced at CHF 11,900 including exchangeable steel bracelets and rubber straps.

While the Zenith Defy Skyline range has been tailored towards casual and relatively stripped-back watches (by Zenith standards), it was only a matter of time before they slipped a chronograph into the mix. After all, the El Primero is really what has consistently driven Zenith to the top of wish lists around the world, and lovers of casual style deserve a piece of the high-beat chrono action too. The new Defy Skyline Chronograph collection, introduced at Watches & Wonders 2024, is sporty, rugged, and heightened with a flair for lifestyle.

zenith defy skyline chronograph white wrist
As its name suggests, the Defy label is all about breaking norms. Some models take this in an extreme way with huge cases and outrageous finishes, and some go for light, airy dial colours and patterns. This first batch of references from the Defy Skyline Chronograph collection actually play things relatively safe, but with hallmarks of signature playfulness. The 42mm cases are made from stainless steel, finished with mostly vertical brushing and touches of polish on some of the chamfers. The bezel is dodecagonal, but the harshness of the angles are softened by a polished ring which leaves a circular profile to the brushed surface. The lugs are certainly pretty beastly. They give the impression of slabs of steel, jarringly-faceted like a gigantic spaceship for whom aerodynamics aren’t important. A water resistance of 100 metres is backed up by a screw-down crown, which is always welcome news. It may not be an inherently aquatic watch, but it’s definitely the kind you’d want to throw on its rubber strap and take adventuring.

zenith defy skyline chronograph blue close up
Zenith definitely aren’t taking any risks with the dial colours on offer, but they’re great as an introduction to the Defy Skyline aesthetic. Across blue, black, and silver references, the dials feature a grid of four-pointed stars. They’re just visible enough to add interesting texture, but aren’t too distracting from the timekeeping information. The hands, applied markers, and the Zenith five-pointed star have been given a darker grey colour on the silver model to help them stand out, while the black and blue models use brighter steel tones for contrast. The chapter ring serves to reflect the bezel shape, being circular on the outside edge and dodecagonal where it meets the dial plate. There’s a date window tucked between the indices at 4:30, and you may have noticed something interesting about the chronograph subdials. All three of them count to 60, and this can be explained from the use of the El Primero 3600 movement.

zenith defy skyline chronograph movement caseback
When the El Primero was first released, it was one of the first integrated automatic chronograph calibre. Now, Zenith have had to go a bit further to stay impressive. When you hit the pusher to start the chronograph, the central seconds hand will go absolutely flying across the dial. This is because the El Primero 3600 is capable of measuring increments down to 1/10th of a second. The 10ths are displayed by the central hand, while one of the chronograph counters measures the seconds at 5Hz, and the other counts the minutes. The subdial at 9 o’clock is for the running seconds, which beats all the time. The 36,000vph beat rate is what allows this precise measurement to be possible, and the chronograph seconds hand which completes a rotation of the dial every 6 seconds. The sapphire display caseback gives you a great view of the movement, complete with a blued column wheel, and a star-shaped automatic winding rotor.

zenith defy skyline chronograph bracelet strap
Strangely, the Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph is one of very few watches to have an integrated bracelet end-link that’s actually made to look like it can detach. The bracelet itself follows on from the case’s sleek yet industrial vibe, tapering down beautifully. There’s also a quick-exchange system which is perfect for the included rubber strap. The rubber is also boldly sculpted and perforated, with matched colours for the blue and black models, and a green strap for the silver dial.

Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph collection pricing and availability

The Zenith Defy Skyline Chronograph collection is available from all Zenith retailers and boutiques. Price: CHF 11,900

Brand Zenith
Model Defy Skyline Chronograph
Reference Number 03.9500.3600/51.I001
Case Dimensions 42mm (D)
Case Material Stainless steel
Water Resistance 100 metres with a screw-down crown
Crystal(s) Sapphire front and back
Dial Blue, silver, or black
Strap Stainless steel bracelet and rubber strap with quick-change system
Movement El Primero 3600, in-house
Power Reserve 60 hours
Functions Hours, minutes, small seconds, 1/10th second chronograph
Availability Available from all Zenith retailers
Price CHF 11,900