From its geometric, open-worked dial (which reveals the mechanisms at the heart of the watch underneath) to its sci-fi camouflage aesthetic, Zenith‘s new DEFY Classic Carbon wristwatch sets a new standard for the brand. It’s the Swiss luxury manufacture’s debut carbon watch with an integrated carbon bracelet—an attribute composed of more than 50 individual carbon fiber components itself. This means that the timepiece weighs a mere 65 grams total—an incredibly low sum for an automatic watch with a 41mm case size. This is half as much as Zenith’s DEFY Classic model that’s made entirely in titanium. And though titanium is stronger, carbon fiber is certainly dynamic enough to defend itself against the bumps of everyday wear.
The DEFY is the ideal model to be crafted from carbon fiber. The patterning—and “strata,” when viewed from the side—of the material lends itself to the angular nature of the model. Zenith’s designers complement the fiber’s futuristic attributes with the architectural design language of the skeletonized piece. Further, because patterns pertain to the layering process behind carbon fiber, no two watches will ever be exactly the same.
Inside the DEFY Classic Carbon, Zenith houses their 187-component, in-house Elite 670 SK automatic movement, which stores up to 50 hours of runtime. The movement houses two rare non-carbon pieces: the meticulous silicon escape-wheel and lever. A star-shaped oscillating wheel is visible from the sapphire crystal caseback. It mirrors the spider-like design language of the dial marvelously. By night (or in the dark), the DEFY Classic Carbon hands and indices glow—enhancing legibility.
As for the bracelet, it’s not just lightweight. The link length and ergonomic case shape sit comfortably on the wrist. It’s also the easiest part of the watch to grapple with the interworking of carbon fiber itself—revealing the manifestations of grain and emphasizing the camouflage-like, satin finish of the material.
The DEFY Classic in carbon, with carbon bracelet, retails for $19,500 USD; an alternative DEFY Classic in carbon, on a black rubber cordura-effect strap, with a carbon and titanium folding buckle, retails for $11,600. They’re both available at Zenith boutiques and retailers, as well as the Zenith online shop.
Images by David Graver