Zenith Defy Skyline: A Steel Time-Only Sports Watch With An El Primero Movement Sans Chronograph
by Martin Green
Let us be honest; there are quite a few high-end, time-only watches in stainless steel with an integrated bracelet design to choose from. Some have set the pace in this category, while others came along the way, scooping up the remaining room in the market. So what possesses a brand to enter this market with yet another model? I have no idea, but I am glad Zenith took this bold move last year with the Defy Skyline.
El Primero light
I didn’t know that I was missing a watch like the Defy Skyline, but I obviously was. In essence, it is a Zenith El Primero, minus the chronograph part, leaving us with a delightful high-frequency time-only watch.
It has a racing subdial, which serves as 1/10th of a second indicator. Its practical use is non-existence, but it is a subtle way to remind you, and people seeing your watch, that you are walking around with a watch running at 5 Hz/36,000 VpH.
This also offers increased precision, but as it lacks a regular seconds hand, it is hard to track the effect of that without additional equipment. To me this is about as relevant as having a talk about the fuel-economy of a Ferrari Roma; I don’t care.
I do care though that the movement looks great through the sapphire insert in the case back. Its industrial finish is complemented by a beautiful oscillating weight featuring the Zenith star. It winds in both directions and offers a power reserve of 60 hours.
Another thing I like about it is that a sports watch has decent water resistance. Nothing is so frustrating as wearing a watch made for an active lifestyle that is afraid of getting wet. Zenith also takes care of this by offering a water resistance of 10 ATM.
Standing out in this segment of the market and avoiding looking like the usual subjects or even being compared to them, you have to come up with not a good, but a great design. Zenith has most certainly done that with the Defy Skyline. It clearly has the brand’s DNA but is also a bold proposition as it cleverly takes some design cues from the famous Defy A3642. This both gives it pedigree and infuses the Defy Skyline with a unique character.
With a 41mm diameter case, it is very wearable. The finishing is superb, and the metal bracelet greatly contributes to outstanding wearing comfort. This could be even further increased if the clasp would allow for micro-adjustments, which it unfortunately doesn’t. The watch is very well constructed, and fitted with a large crown that is as good looking as it is easy to operate.
The dial is legible, thanks to bold hands and hour markers, but impresses mostly because of its beautiful hue and intricate pattern. This gives the Defy Skyline a sense of luxury and sophistication without getting in the way of its sportive character. Normally I am not a fan of the traditional date window, but Zenith did a nice way and integrated it in a subtle way. The date also helps balance the design of the dial
The not-so-integrated bracelet
Zenith achieved an integrated bracelet design that is not as integrated as it seems. The bracelet can be swapped in seconds without the use of any tools for a rubber strap. While I am normally all about getting additional straps to change the look of the watch, the Defy Skyline looks so drop-dead gorgeous on its bracelet that I cannot imagine wearing it in another configuration. Maybe I will change my mind if Zenith introduces gold versions of this model, but for now, the bracelet is the absolute winner.
Color me crazy
Zenith is currently offering the Defy Skyline with a blue, black, or white dial.
While beauty is in the eye of the beholder, the blue is quite charismatic, also because of the dial decorations. These are equally enticing on the white dial, which makes the Defy Skyline look slightly larger on the wrist due to its light hue.
The black is a bit more understated and wears slightly smaller for the opposite reasons as the white dial. In a way, they all complement each other, making it a very complete collection in terms of color. Zenith avoided any trend colors like red or green, but those might be in the pipeline. I always give extra credit when a brand goes makes their date discs the same color as the dial, as Zenith does so perfectly.
While I didn’t think it was possible, the Defy Skyline adds something extra to the world of high-end stainless steel time-only sports watches, which is quite exceptional in itself. I guess Zenith still hasn’t reached its own zenith.
For more information, please visit www.zenith-watches.com/int/product/defy-skyline-03-9300-3620-51-i001
Quick Facts Zenith Defy Skyline
Case: 41 x 11.6 mm, stainless steel
Movement: automatic Caliber El Primero 3620, 60-hour power reserve, 36,000 vph/5Hz frequency, silicon escapement
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds (showing one-tenth of a second); date
Remark: five-year warranty and quick-release strap system
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