You don’t need me to tell you that integrated bracelet sports watches are all the rage these days. Watch brands from various segments of the industry are adding their spin to the beloved seventies-era aesthetic, characterized by angular cases, patterned dials, and of course, integrated bracelets. One thing I love about this moment (aside from the vast choice in the market that hits all the price points) is that a once-dominant issue is largely being left behind; whereas the mid-size and women’s-sized integrated bracelet sports watches of yore were largely quartz-powered, many of today’s versions run on self-winding movements. Hooray for progress! This brings me to the pair of Zenith Defy Skyline 36 diamond watches I had in my hand to review. Sporty yet sparkly, simple to use but mechanical, and furnished with integrated bracelets that are easily swappable, these are the types of features that make the modern sports watch de luxe for women appealing — at least for me.

I spent some time with two Zenith Defy Skyline 36 models: one with an ice blue dial Boutique Edition (ref. 16.9400.670/15.I001) and the other with a pastel green dial (ref. 16.9400.670/61.I001), and both with diamond-set bezels. My first impression of the watch on the wrist is that it’s superbly comfortable. The 36mm steel case is the right size for my 6.5-inch wrist, aided by the watch’s slim-ish 10.35 mm profile that’s topped with a flat sapphire crystal. I’m a fan of the angular shape of the case (especially viewing it from the sides) and the combination of brushed and polished finishes looks great. The 12-sided bezel is set with 52 VVS diamonds, and it may sound strange, but they’re somewhat subtle. I think it has to do with everything being cool-toned, from the steel case to the metallic dials, while the diamonds add a touch of flashiness without going overboard.

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Speaking of dials, these are embellished with a repetitive four-point star pattern, which again, sounds like a lot but it works. Due to the sunburst finishing, the pattern can either look dramatic or muted depending on how the light hits. The ice blue and pastel green shades are lovely, but I think if I were to buy one for myself, I’d go blue — it’s an easier color to match and I consider it neutral. The applied rhodium-plated and faceted hour markers are coated with Super-Luminova, as are the rhodium-plated hands. I can confirm that the watches offer solid legibility in the dark; I’m not skilled enough to take a good lume shot so you’ll have to take my word for it. There’s a date window at 3 o’clock with a color-matched wheel, which makes me happy. The window is there when you need it but blends into the background when you don’t.

The integrated bracelet is a joy to wear; it’s comfortable, tapers where it needs to, and feels nice and secure without being intrusive. The bracelet measures 23mm at the lugs and 16mm at the twin-trigger release deployant clasp. The beveled edges of the bracelet and links add some shine and visual interest, and I caught myself looking at the bracelet as much as the rest of the watch. The interchangeable system is a breeze to use and switching out the steel bracelets for the color-coordinated rubber straps brings out the fun in these watches. The straps are grooved and the center portion features the same four-star pattern as the dial, and they wrap around the wrist via steel tang buckles. Again, the rubber straps are comfortable and I could see myself wearing them more often than the steel bracelets in the summer months. The Defy Skyline 36 watches look completely different on their accompanying rubber straps; it’s really like having two watches instead of one.

The caseback offers a view of the self-winding Caliber Zenith Elite 670 movement where you can clearly see the central star-shaped rotor — a super fun touch, in my opinion. The movement operates at 28,800 bph and supplies the Defy Skyline 36 with a minimum of 50 hours of power reserve. It also furnishes the watch with stop-seconds and a quickset date. The watches are water resistant to 100 meters, which is great considering my possible future summers swimming with the watch dressed in rubber.

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The Zenith Defy Skyline 36 watch is one I would consider adding to my personal collection. It would get plenty of wrist time since it checks off so many boxes; it would work as a daily watch when paired with the integrated steel bracelet, and a sports watch during the hotter months when combined with a rubber strap. The design is excellent both in terms of aesthetics and wearability, and I truly enjoyed wearing the ice blue model. Both versions of these Defy Skyline watches retail for $12,000 USD, which is not inexpensive, but thanks to the interchangeable straps, I can justify it as two for the price of one. For more information about the Zenith Defy Skyline 36 diamond watches, please visit the brand’s website

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