Zenith Follows A New Star For Women With The Defy Midnight And Elite Classic Collections
LVMH held a replacement show for new watches to show to the press and retailers in January. The inaugural event, which took place at the Bulgari Hotel & Resort in Dubai, featured new products and quality time with Zenith, Hublot, and Bulgari. The fourth LVMH watch brand – TAG Heuer – decided to forego an exhibition of its products at that time.
“I believe Dubai is the new international destination for the world of watchmaking,” said Zenith CEO Julien Tornare. “Glamorous and forward-thinking at the same time, Dubai is the perfect place to present an innovative collection of feminine watches. We are placing women’s watches at the forefront of the brand’s creative endeavors.”
Ladies’ watches are a surprising turn of direction for the traditional Le Locle-based brand, which has primarily concentrated on men’s watches up to now.
“When I came on board [in 2017], we had a situation and I had to institute a quick fix,” Tornare explained under the blue skies of mid-January Dubai. “So we concentrated on men, taking care of the Defy, which has been our growth engine, and then last year we celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the El Primero.”
Only 15-18 percent of Zenith’s watches are currently aimed at the female wrist according to the 48-year-old CEO. “Either they buy a men’s watch or one of the few existing pieces we have with diamonds. I got a lot of requests . . . people kept mentioning the [previous CEO Thierry] Nataf days, with the [then-new] Open Heart, which I did not want to repeat. But I agreed that we needed at least a feminine approach.”
In Dubai, Zenith presented two sets of daily-wearer timepieces for women that exude the brand’s own personality while being simultaneously robust yet glamorous companions for the “four lives” of the modern woman, as Tornare puts it.
“My wife would be so happy to hear me say this: women have four lives . . . wife, mother, businessperson, house manager. Women multitask much better than men. So the idea was to have the perfect representation of different moments of life. You buy one watch, but you get four in a way.”
And in this respect Tornare is referring to the additional three straps the bracelet watch comes with – all of which are outfitted with a quick-change system allowing the owner to easily modify the look of the watch.
I feel like Tornare might have read what I wrote back in 2017 when we put together a round table of opinions for the new CEO of Zenith once we heard that the previous CEO had left. I wrote, “Rationalization and taking female consumers seriously would be the very first steps I, too, would take in terms of collection optimization should I ever be called upon to take the reins of this historical brand. Quick-change straps are something every luxury brand should be offering by now, too.”
See all of our opinions from January 2017 in What Would You Do If You Were The New CEO Of Zenith? This Is What We Would Do . . .
Zenith Defy Midnight
Adding a feminine timepiece to the Defy line was a no-brainer for Tornare, considering it is the most progressive and modern line at Zenith. He believes it meets the expectations of the twenty-first-century woman.
To me, the sporty chic Defy Midnight belongs within the parameters of Zenith’s relaunched Defy line, which has until now generally been used to house progressive complications, forward-thinking materials, and unusual design. This is in sharp contrast to Zenith’s multidecade pillars Elite and El Primero, which have much different characters; the Defy (and Defy 21) is generally the least “Zenith-like” of the brand’s modern model families.
The feminine new offshoot has managed to retain the prominent look of the line that has now become a large segment of Zenith’s business according to Tornare.
Aside from the romantic connotations of the collection, which have led to some lovely design choices, the one element that impressed me the most was the interchangeable strap/bracelet system – and the fact that each Defy Midnight comes with an additional three straps so that the watch can be wardrobed in the blink of an eye.
If you think that sounds like the makings for an ideal watch for women, I’d have to agree with you.
The three dials offered so far within the sporty stainless steel case are all romantic in nature: vertical glossy, gradient, galvanized grey or midnight blue speckled with stars of differing sizes. A third dial, white mother-of-pearl gradient grey evoking moonlight on a cloudy night is also star-speckled. All three variations glow with a sprinkling of luminescent stars.
Tornare explains that the base story line revolves around the starry sky, which involves both a romantic notion and incorporates the Zenith star. According to the energetic CEO, the brand offers three different dial variations “because the sky doesn’t always have the same color; it can be blue or a bit reddish at sunset or even cloudy – but you can always see the star because it’s yours.”
The stainless steel case, redesigned to accommodate a woman’s slimmer wrist, is proportionate, but still substantial due to a higher bezel able to accommodate the 44 full-sized brilliant-cut diamonds set into the bezel of three of the references.
Zenith Elite Classic and Elite Moonphase
There is also something in the new Zenith collection for women who like it a little more classic: the Elite Classic and Elite Moonphase offer the typical thin dress watch style of that collection but sized for a female wrist at 36 mm and under 10 mm in height.
The new dials are nothing short of breathtaking in their clear simplicity and elegant beauty. Stamped guilloche appears like rays of light, emanating from the center and spreading outward toward the bezel, which is set with a ring of 75 scintillating diamonds.
Faceted, tapered, applied, gold- or rhodium-plated hour markers (depending on the case metal) match the slender hands, which the unobtrusive date window at 6 o’clock balances against the Zenith logo with its star at 12 o’clock.
Additionally, Zenith launches the Moonphase variation in the same size, but with different-colored dials (slate grey and silver toned as opposed to blue and silver toned) and a moon phase display instead of the date at 6 o’clock. The display of seconds is found at 9 o’clock here.
For women who like a slightly bigger watch, there are also two 40 mm variations without diamonds on the bezel.
Elegant proportions are the name of the game in this revamped Elite collection, while the Defy Midnight offers more of a sporty chic feel. All models are powered by Zenith’s in-house Elite movements.
For more information, please visit www.zenith-watches.com/en/product/defy-midnight and/or www.zenith-watches.com/new-models/en/product/elite-moonlight.
Quick Facts Zenith Defy Midnight
Case: stainless steel, 36 x 10.35 mm, with or without 44 diamonds (1.48 ct) on bezel
Dial: three variations with gradient slate grey, blue, and light grey with luminous stars and 11 diamonds as hour markers (0.1 ct)
Movement: automatic Elite Caliber 670, 50-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; date
Remark: comes with interchangeable strap/bracelet system; three different-colored straps and stainless steel bracelet included
Price: CHF 8,900/€8,800 without diamond-set bezel; CHF 10,900/€10,700 with diamond-set bezel
Quick Facts Zenith Elite Classic 36 mm
Case: stainless steel or pink gold, 36 x 9.05 mm, bezel set with 75 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.6 ct)
Dial: with blue (steel) or silver-toned guilloche pattern (pink gold) dial
Movement: automatic Elite Caliber 670 SK, 48-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, hacking seconds; date
Price: CHF 7,900/€7,800 (stainless steel); CHF 14,900/€14,700 (pink gold)
Quick Facts Zenith Elite Moonphase 36 mm
Case: stainless steel or pink gold, 36 x 9.35 mm, bezel set with 75 brilliant-cut diamonds (0.6 ct)
Dial: with slate-grey (steel) or silver-toned guilloche pattern (pink gold) dial
Movement: automatic Elite Caliber 692, 48-hour power reserve, 4 Hz/28,800 vph frequency
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds; moon phase
Price: CHF 8,900/€8,800 (stainless steel); CHF 15,900/€14,700 (pink gold)