To the Limit: A Look Back at replica Zenith Defy Past
We recorded a podcast about Guilty watches a few months ago, and while I strongly believe there is no such thing as Guilty fun, I think there are definitely some watches that keep us from better judgement. For one reason or another, or possibly a whole host of reasons, these watches seep into our brains, become WatchRecon alarms, and end up as fascinating gadgets, even if they're not practical, don't fit in your collection, or even Not objectively good-looking. I guess it's me coming clean and admitting a so-called guilty pleasure I wasn't aware of on that podcast, or maybe it's just now surfacing. Either way, we should be talking about Zenith Defy Xtreme.
Before we get into the Xtreme, a long-time-worthy watch, let's quickly introduce the new Zenith Defy Extreme, which launched at Watches & Wonders a few weeks ago. We'll point out right away that Extreme has absolutely nothing to do with Xtreme. This new El Primero 9004 Power High Frequency Chronograph shares a name (but not the spelling) with the Xtreme of the '00s, but it's an entirely different type of watch with a very different look and a more modern design than the Zenith The language is cleaner and cleaner Xtreme of old did when it was first launched. Put more simply, the new Extreme isn't as radical a departure from the norm as the Xtreme was all those years ago,fashion replica watches
The Extreme is a big, bold titanium watch with an angular 45mm case that takes inspiration from the earliest Defy references.
The history of Defy is somewhat murky for various reasons. As a sports watch, it has never been as popular or as culturally important as competing offerings from Rolex and Omega. Over the years, especially as the rise of vintage watches influenced contemporary design, Zenith has focused on the El Primero, sometimes at the expense of other non-chronograph offerings in its catalog. But the lineage of the new Extreme goes all the way back to the very first Defy, the A3642, which arrived in 1969 and featured the avant-garde design of the time combined with some truly next-gen watch technology. It was this Defy that created the theme template for all future Defys, including the Xtremes that appeared mid-term.
The design link between the first-generation Defy and the new Extreme chronograph is simple and can be found in the shape of the case. While earlier Defys featured a distinctive octagonal case (and tetradecagonal bezel), the newer watches borrow heavily from the highly polished facets. The geometry of these watches is quite complex and certainly much bolder than most sports watches from the 60s and early 70s. What sets these watches apart even more than their looks, though, is how they're made. Although not shown on the dial, the Defy is water resistant to 300 meters and the movement is protected by a patented "capsule case" and mounted within a flexible rubber ring to prevent shocks.online replica watches
To fully dive down the Xtreme rabbit hole, we need to go back to the mid-00s, when Thierry Nataf was at the helm of Zenith. It's important to remember that when Nataf took office in early 2001, Zenith was hardly considered relevant in many circles. Today, they are regularly featured in the watch press (which itself was a very different landscape twenty years ago), but by the late 90s they were the connoisseur's choice and their adventure sports watch heritage was all but wiped from memory . The Zenith of the '90s was stylistically bland. Lots of gold, El Primeros with Roman dials, and any other conservative style that any grandparent would love.
Conventional wisdom holds that Xtreme somehow doesn't fit Zenith's character, but to me it's a logical continuation of Defy's story, and the Xtreme series is Nataf's attempt to restore a piece of Zenith's history that he feels has been forgotten by time. The brand is in many ways the originator of boldly styled and truly tough sports watches, not only a type of watch that Zenith hadn't produced for years when Nataf joined the company, but a market segment that was just beginning to enter in wider Switzerland. The watch is unique worldwide.
Taking risks in style might be an understated way of categorizing Xtreme watches. It's a long-established Swiss brand that draws not only from their own heritage in material flexibility and designing almost comically overbuilt things, but also from the emerging pioneers of high-end independent watchmaking, where experimentation pays off, Creative watchmakers were rewarded. In the initial stages of playing with form and subverting the established and tried-and-true aesthetics of watch looks. Xtreme's anything-is-possible attitude draws on the spirit of Zenith's own past, as well as brands like Vianney Halter, Urwerk and Harry Winston's Opus line. The Xtreme doesn't look like those watches, but it seems to come from the same school of thought: Flagship high-end timepieces don't need to obey any rules or norms at all. This school of thought certainly fits with Nataf's general stance as CEO—in a 2007 magazine interview, he described Zenith as "a 150-year-old start-up."Discount replica watches
In my review of the black ceramic Defy Classic, I talked about this balance between old and new, and related this modern watch to earlier watches in the Defy line from the 1970s. These watches are always ahead of trends and current technology and seek to make the most of the materials and technology available at the time. The end result reflects the aesthetics of the watch when it was made. In the 70's, that meant a chunky steel pad box. The current look of the Defy is sleek, with precise finishes and sharp angles. Nataf-era Defy Xtreme watches reflect a bold overconfidence, with a color palette left over from the '90s, and the brash look of someone who didn't lose his shirt when the dot-com bubble burst.
That last point is important because these watches are expensive and aimed at high-end luxury customers who may cross-buy precious metal Rolex sports models, or entry points into brands such as Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe. The fully coated limited edition Defy Xtreme is equipped with an El Primero movement called "Open Sea". Of course all Nataf-era Defys are limited in a sense, since his time at the company was relatively short and fraught, and the design language he's lauded (blamed?) doesn't quite hold water. Regardless, the time has done its job, and like many other watches of the era, what was once unobtainable is now readily available. For a certain type of collector with a certain taste, these watches are a major nostalgic drama.
A common criticism I hear of these watches is "it looks like an Invicta". Look, I can't argue that they don't share some similarly aggressive and in-your-face design features. These watches give the impression that there are too many gauges, switches, buttons, screws, and everything else. They're just a lot. Still, there's no denying that the quality of workmanship and build is as far from the Home Shopping Network Deals as the Bic Pen is from the Montblanc. Nataf is clearly highly committed to the Xtreme, and the result is a watch that is downright luxurious in terms of build quality and finish, even if it looks like something we'd expect to find in 2021 on a bargain table full of discontinued products at a major department store The company sells at a low price. These watches helped set a trend that other overbuilt sports watches from major Swiss brands would follow in terms of specs, not style. The bracelet is finished in Kevlar and is set at a water resistance rating of 1,000 meters (some variants are closer to 20mm thanks to the extra thick crystal). Zenith even patented their own alloy, "Zenithium," said to be a combination of titanium, steel, and niobium, and used in the balance cocks of some of the movements that power the Xtremes (it was created with shock absorption in mind). Carbon fiber is also used extensively on these watches – not just on the dials, but also as accents for the pushers of the El Primero Edition Xtreme chronograph. It's hard to think of a more contemporary design detail, and your appreciation for it is probably proportional to where you were and what you were doing in 2005. But as the focal point of the Xtreme chronograph pushers of the El Primero edition. It's hard to think of a more contemporary design detail, and your appreciation for it is probably proportional to where you were and what you were doing in 2005. But as the focal point of the Xtreme chronograph pushers of the El Primero edition. It's hard to think of a more contemporary design detail, and your appreciation for it is probably proportional to where you were and what you were doing in 2005.replica U-BOAT
Everything about Xtreme watches is exaggerated and reflects the time they were made. But that's true of every Defy in a way, and you could say that's what a Defy is all about. Even before the launch of the new Extreme collection, the current Defy 21 chronographs felt very genuinely like an Xtreme legacy, even if they looked nothing like it and shared no direct design links. Both are manufactured to a high standard, using exotic materials and the latest in movement technology. They share similar and unabashed modern design tropes. They even diverge in similar ways, though the Defy 21's work is certainly more embraced by enthusiasts and arbiters of contemporary watch culture, for whatever it's worth.
As a Zenith fan through and through, these watches fascinate me, and from our vantage point in 2021, they seem to be having a lasting impact, or at least part of a sea change in how materials like titanium are being used. You could also say they predicted the popularity of ceramic and skeleton in hardcore sports watches, two trends that have become so prevalent it's not even a trend at this point, although the Xtreme is certainly not the only one in this segment Watches are tested in these areas.
Sometimes when I'm perusing a press release or scrolling through Instagram and lament that everything seems to be "vintage inspired" and looks the same, I think about the Defy Xtreme and how this truly original and often misunderstood watch continues to generate reactions , which can best be described as the vomit emoji in word form (or, sometimes, just emoji form). I also think about how it almost ended my career - Nataf will continue to work in the watch industry, but never again for a brand with the stature and history of Zenith. This huge, ostentatious and controversial watch ends up having a disproportionate amount of power and influence to how much people actually "like" it, and while I'd probably never risk buying a Defy Xtreme (or maybe I would...), Zenith .Ulysse Nardin replica