The Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève (GPHG) addresses the excellence of worldwide horological production and annually rewards the finest creations in watchmaking. Zenith’s Defy Zero G has been pre-selected in the chronometry category of the 18th GPHG awards which will be declared in November. Julien Tornare, CEO, Zenith answers queries from Hiren Kumar Bose on what makes Defy’s recent avatar a good contender for the award
We had Defy Lab followed by the Defy Classic and now the Defy Zero G—all standing apart in the horological ecosphere due to their interesting mechanism, the Gravity Control. What are the new features of the latest Defy avatar?
The new Defy Zero G (for Gravity) heralds the Haute Horlogerie of the future, with a cleverly downsized and fine-tuned “Gravity Control” gyroscopic module that defies the laws of gravity. This patented “Gravity Control” gyroscopic module cancels the effects of gravity on the running rate of the watch, by maintaining the regulating organ and the balance wheel in a horizontal position. In an additional feat, it was fitted in the high oscillation-frequency El Primero movement measuring tenths of a second. Reinterpreted in the futuristic mode for the new Defy Zero G, this spherical system composed of 139 tiny components has been entirely redesigned and optimised so as to increase its efficiency and reduce its dimensions. The gyroscopic module – inspired by historical marine chronometers – which previously spun between two convex sapphire crystals, now occupies only 30% of its initial volume and can thus fit perfectly between the two flat sapphire crystals of the Defy case. This technical, feather-light device appears in all its majesty at 6 o’clock. As a double guarantee of extreme precision, it is powered by a manual-winding El Primero 8812S calibre, oscillating at 5 Hz and self-regulated by the modernised “Gravity Control” module. With its 324 components (including 139 for the gyroscopic carriage alone), this high-frequency in-house movement – heir to the legendary 1969 El Primero – drives the offset hours and minutes, small seconds and gravity control functions, along with the over 50-hour power-reserve indication. Additionally, it has a modern, stylised design in keeping with its futuristic mechanism. Visible on both sides, the entirely skeletonised and black rhodium-treated movement makes a striking contrast with the light tone of the five slim branches evoking the offset Zenith star symbol. These match the case material and accentuate the 3D effect of this dynamic architecture.
Zenith was previously synonymous with El Primero chronographs, but the Defy series shows that a lot of mechanical innovations and styling are happening at Zenith. Please comment.
In 2017, we had sell-out levels of the Defy 21 such as we had never experienced with any watch in the history of the brand. This year, the futuristic DNA of the Defy line will appear in a full-fledged collection featuring several degrees of mechanical complexity, ranging from three-hand to Grand Complication models. We’re also getting geared up for an exciting 50th anniversary for the El Primero in 2019. And while this year (2018) is undeniably the year of Defy, next year I am also determined to create a Defy Lab 2.0 series in response to the huge interest that this iconic watch attracted when it was launched last year. The Defy Lab represents a major innovation that has challenged the very foundations of watchmaking mechanics: the three-century-old principle of regulating time with a balance spring developed in 1675 by Dutch astronomer, mathematician and physician Christian Huygens. And powering the watch industry into a whole new dimension, the incredible accuracy of the Defy Lab (an average of 0.3 seconds per day) is encased in Aeronith, the world’s lightest aluminium composite material, representing a second world premiere in this landmark timepiece. Against this background, we have some great projects in the pipeline with incredible things to come.