HANDS-ON: The Zenith Defy El Primero Zero G

HANDS-ON: The Zenith Defy El Primero Zero G

Since the launch of the Zenith Defy 21 last year, and the shockingly innovative Defy Lab later in 2017, it wasn’t a matter of speculation that more releases for the new collection were coming to Baselworld in 2018. The new Zero G is this year’s Halo watch from the brand as we wait for the groundbreaking new escapement to trickle down to series production. Though this is a new execution, the Zero G’s clever gyroscopic escapement — said to have been based on the concept of the gimbals used in old marine chronometers — is nothing new. Oddly enough, the first execution of the Zero-G was also a Defy, known as the Defy Xtreme Zero-G Tourbillon. Since that massive half-million dollar beast’s launch, Zenith have further refined the mechanism, scaling it down to a more modest size that no longer requires a large dome in the crystal to accommodate its freewheeling functionality.

Vital statistics

Regardless of how new the innovation is, there’s much to love about the new Zero G. At its heart, a high-beat El Primero caliber delivers a 50-hour power reserve to its indication of time and running seconds, with a subtle power reserve display to the right of its off-centre dial. The caliber is laid out in a unique manner, with its mainspring barrel and gear train occupying the upper right quadrant of its case, supported by an elaborate web of bridges that give the piece a look that’s somewhere between architectural structure and a city road map. Either way, it’s a slightly different take on skeletonisation, and it works. Fitted in a lightweight titanium case (though also available in full gold on bracelet), the Zero G features mostly brushed finishing, as to not detract too much from its elaborate inner workings. Of course, the big talking point is its escapement, which is designed to keep the escapement and balance wheel upright, regardless of what angle your wrist is resting at. The idea is — much like a multi-axis tourbillon — that maintaining the escapement on a single plane will assist in maintaining running stability and accuracy.

On the wrist

Having experienced the Defy 21 chronograph on a few occasions already, I can still say I love how this tonneau-style case feels on the wrist. To be fair, it does have a slight Hublot-ish vibe to how it wears (especially when you’re trying the rubber-backed leather version), but at 44mm across with short lugs, it’s a touch more wearable than offerings from its sister brand.

Who’s it for?

Edgy horology geeks with a healthy dose of cash to burn. That’s the catch. Though it’s not a tourbillon, this bad boy doesn’t come cheap. Pricing for the Defy Zero G starts at $138,500 AUD.

Any surprises?

The level of refinement in the last nine years or less. Having seen the big and bulbous versions of this Zero-G caliber, hats off to Zenith for distilling the technology down to a more functional/usable size.

The Zenith Defy El Primero Zero G Australian pricing

Zenith Defy El Primero Zero G, in titanium, from $138,500 on leather.

Model:Defy El Primero Zero G
Case Size:44mm
Case Material:Brushed titanium
Dial:Openworked with one different-coloured counter
Strap:Titanium bracelet
Movement:El Primero 8812 S, Manual

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