Back in 2018, Zenith reintroduced the “Zero-G Tourbillon” concept to the world (minus the “tourbillon” label) with the Zenith Defy Zero-G. Later that year. we went hands-on with a limited-edition white and orange-colored Swizz Beatz collaboration version of the Zenith Defy Zero-G watch here. I recently had the chance to see another version of the Zenith Defy Zero-G concept, in the form of this reference 18.9000.8812/79.R584, which has a 44mm wide 18k rose gold case.

If you’ve never seen how Zenith’s Zero-G mechanical regulation system works, it can be difficult to understand from pictures. At a glance, this might appear to be a spherical multi-axis tourbillon that moves around on its own accord. It isn’t. Rather, the Zero-G system puts the entire escapement system into a free-floating gimbal, with the idea that it will always be “pointing up” no matter what the orientation of the watch case. The underside of the spherical Zero-G system is weighted, and the entire system is mounted to the rest of the movement like a gyroscope. Given that there is no power-driven system to move a spinning balance wheel on its axis, there really isn’t a tourbillon to speak of. Zenith simply refers to the concept as its “Gravity Control” gyroscopic regulating organ.

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Even though Zenith’s Gravity Control system is not a tourbillon, it is supposed to have a similar effect — to help reduce rate result errors and allow a watch to be more accurate over time. When a balance wheel operates on a horizontal angle (the preferred position of the regulation system in this watch), it tends to allow for the best performance over time. So, rather than try to average out rate result errors as a tourbillon is intended to, the Zero-G Gravity Control system seems to keep the regulation system in its best performing position as much as possible. The mechanism is, indeed, very fun to play with and observe in action.

As previously mentioned, Zenith originally introduced the Zero-G regulation system concept in the mid-2000s. The first versions had a much larger spherical spinning regulation system, and thus the front and/or rear sapphire crystal of the watch was fitted with a sapphire crystal that had bulbous pockets to allow for the rather large regulation system. By the time the Zero-G movement concept had hit this Defy collection, Zenith was able to shrink the movement considerably – including its thickness. Zenith doesn’t actually publish the thickness of the Defy Zero-G watch (it is just under 15mm thick), but the case is vastly more wearable than some of the Zero-G watches that came before it. There are no more bulges in the sapphire crystals, and no one will be tempted to make a “tumor” joke about your luxury timepiece.

Inside the Defy Zero-G watch is the in-house Zenith caliber 8812 S El Primero manually wound movement. It operates at 5Hz (36,000 bph), is comprised of 324 parts,  and has about 50 hours of power reserve. The movement may lack automatic winding, but at least it offers a power reserve indicator display on the dial. The time is indicated via an off-center subdial, and there is also a subsidiary seconds dial on the skeletonized face. A major part of the overall design is the skeletonization of the movement and dial. The skeletonized dial motif features a segment of the Zenith star logo, with the Gravity Control system being in the center of the star as its arms move outward. No, the Defy Zero-G isn’t the most legible Zenith around, but this was not intended to be a tool watch.

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This 18k rose gold version of the Defy Zero-G has a 44mm wide case that is water resistant to 100 meters and is paired with a blue alligator and rubber strap (with matching blue and rose gold dial accents). The overall composition is very much modern high-end LVMH, whereby ultra-complicated timepieces tend to be designed with more industrial, contemporary designs versus anything classic or retro. That era might be changing at Zenith, but we will have to see where the company’s new CEO will take the diverse brand in the years to come.

While certainly niche, the Defy Zero-G is quite fun to wear. Most people might not understand (let alone be able to explain) what or how the Gravity Control system is or what it is meant to do, but at least it can give serious nerds something to discuss. As I mentioned in a previous article on the Zero-G concept, even though it is intended to promote timing accuracy, I have no idea if the system truly works as intended or not insofar as it achieves more accuracy over time compared to a standard mechanical movement. The watch does present a very fun spinning, twirling thing on the dial that animates when you shake it up, and that’s got to be worth at least a hundred grand right? Also, for those who enjoy this design but want even more gold, Zenith produced a version of this watch with a matching 18k rose gold bracelet, for just $15,600 more. That’s a bargain of a gold bracelet these days! Price for the pictured reference 18.9000.8812/79.R584 Zenith Defy Zero-G watch is $119,200 USD. Learn more at the Zenith website.

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