First Look: Zenith’s New Defy 21 Watch Is The Statement Piece Of 2021

Once again, LVMH is ahead of the pack. Last year, the luxury conglomerate released its new watches for 2020 with a splashy January event in Dubai, just weeks before Covid-19 became a global pandemic. The timing was certainly fortuitous for Hublot, Zenith, Bulgari and Tag Heuer. It gave the brands a chance to be seen in-person by both retailers, press and VIP clients before the business would nearly come to a standstill. This year, the watch division made sure to be first out of the gate again. Here are the highlights from Zenith with a special mention to a vivid new forest-green Zenith Defy 21.

Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle

Green watches have become increasingly popular. Whether military-inspired or not, they make a nice style statement for increasingly casual wardrobes. Zenith hopped on the bandwagon with its latest Zenith Defy 21, aptly called the “Urban Jungle,” both for its striking leafy hue and its modern construction. It marks the first time the Swiss watchmaker has dressed the model in green ceramic and it comes with a matching rubber insert, with grey edges, that uses a cordura-effect to create the look of a Nato strap without using fabric.

The colour carries through to its El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement, which can measure 1/100th of a second for exceptionally close timing, with the main plate and star-shaped oscillating rotor also created in the rich hue. Incredibly precise, it has an escapement operating at 36,000 VpH or 5Hz, while the chronograph functions at an incredible 360,000 VpH or 50 Hz. It comes with approximately 50 hours of power reserve and retails for US$14,500 (or about RM59,000).

Zenith Pilot Type 20 Silver Chronograph

Two years ago, Zenith released its first Pilot Type 20 in a sterling silver case on a time-only special edition that was limited to just 200 pieces at $7,700 each. This year, it updated the model in a chronograph version, more true to its aviation roots. Like its predecessor, it also comes in a sterling silver case with a nuanced dial meant to reflect the striations and rivets of the metal panels found on the fuselage of an aircraft. The time around, the case also features two pushers to activate the chronograph, both situated on either side of its unmistakable oversized onion-shaped crown (historically pilots needed larger crowns to help adjust the time while wearing flight gloves).

Other than its chronograph function, the piece has not strayed in design from the 2019 version. It remains 45 mm and has the same extra-large Arabic numerals and cathedral hands topped off in SuperLuminova for legibility. Like its predecessor, this silver chrono is limited to just 250 models, but the extra complication will add a couple of K to the price of the 2019 model, with a retail figure of US$9,700 (about RM39,000).

It is powered by the El Primero 4069 Automatic movement with 50 hours of power reserve and a frequency of 36,000 VpH.

Fun fact: Zenith’s Type 20 Pilot is inspired by early 20th century aviator Louis Bleriot, who undertook the first flight across the English Channel in 1909, with a Zenith on his wrist. The historic moment took place just five years after Zenith founder, George Favre-Jacot, completed the second trademark on the Pilot timepiece in 1904.

Left to right: Chronomaster Sport and Chronomaster Revival A385.

Zenith also released a new Chronomaster Sport and a Chronomaster Revival A385 earlier this month.

Previously published on Robb Report.

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