Zenith Watchmaker Relaunches Its 1969 Defy Model

The original Defy model has a historic place in the history of watchmaking, as it championed the traditional mechanical timepiece, in the face of cheap, mass-produced wristwatches. Today it’s been reproduced in stunningly accurate detail to form the new DEFY Revival A3642.

A daring and outstanding piece of watchmaking history

1969 was a milestone year not only for Zenith but for watchmaking. It was the year that saw the launch of the El Primero calibre and most notably, the DEFY collection. These models were especially significant, as they marked a stand against the trend of quartz watches that was threatening traditional Swiss watchmaking. Zenith quite literally defied the new wave of mass-produced electronic watches, by creating an edgy new mechanical timepiece that provided unbeatable robustness. The new model follows highly acclaimed and sought-after reproductions of the 1960s and 1970s El Primero.

Nicknamed the ‘coffre-fort’ (French for “bank vault” or “safe-deposit box”) the timepiece features a bold, octagonal case paired with a fourteen-sided bezel. A rugged steel “ladder” bracelet has been designed and manufactured by the famed Gay Frères company to emulate the original sporty steel bracelet and highly geometric design. Created for all occasions and all terrains, it has a water resistance of 30ATM (300 metres) ensured by a screw-down crown.

True to the original

Defy’s grey dial with its striking gradient effect (darkening towards the edges) was novel in the late 1960s. Square hour markers feature horizontal grooves to convey a sense of perpetual motion and wide sword-shaped hands have been filled with SuperLumiNova to replicate the Tritium found in the original, along with a paddle-shaped seconds hand.

In place of the original’s solid case back emblazoned with a four-pointed star that became one of the brand’s logos, the Defy Revival A3642 sports a sapphire display back showing the automatic Elite 670 manufacture movement. This operates at a frequency of 4 Hz (28’800 VpH) and delivers a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound. Indeed, the only cosmetic differences between this model and the first defy, are the introduction of the sapphire crystal display case back and the type of luminescent pigments used.

Zenith was first established in 1865 and has been playing its role in both making histories and helping individuals to accomplish their dreams, ever since. Its timepieces accompanied Louis Blériot’s history-making flight across the English Channel and Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting stratospheric free-fall jump. In 2022, members of the public have the opportunity to own one of the 250 Defy Revival A3642 timepieces, available via Zenith’s website and in the brand’s range of international boutiques.

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