As its latest release of 2023, Zenith has launched a new duo of colorful Defy 21 watches that feature white and black ceramic cases. Zenith initially introduced this vibrant aesthetic with the original Defy 21 Chroma that was announced during LVMH Watch Week 2022, and now this rainbow-colored concept returns in the form of two different multicolored variations of the brand’s high-frequency skeletonized chronograph. While the core design of these new models has largely been carried over from the original sold-out iteration that debuted last year, neither of the new limited-edition Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II watches is the exact same as the inaugural version, and each one offers a slightly different take on the brand’s rainbow-colored aesthetic.
The first of the two models is the Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II ref. 49.9013.9004/21.R952, which is essentially the black version of the original Defy 21 Chroma that was launched last year. The vibrant rainbow hues adorning the hour markers and select components of the movement sitting visible through its skeletonized dial are identical to what can be found on the original version, although everything else that was previously white now appears jet black. What this means is that the 44mm case is crafted from black ceramic with a brushed finish, the sub-dials and minute track on the dial are now also black to match the case, and fitted to its integrated lugs is a black rubber strap with rainbow contrast stitching and a titanium folding clasp.
The other new Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II is the ref. 49.9014.9004/01.R953, which embraces a primarily white colorway like the original sold-out version. However, rather than placing an emphasis on punchy primary colors, the new white model leans into a softer colorway that still offers the model’s signature rainbow appearance. The same subdued colorway that adorns the hour markers also appears on the contrast stitching of its white rubber strap, along with on certain components of the movement that sit visible through the open-worked sections of its dial. The movement components are PVD-treated with colors to match the hues of the hour markers that are closest to them, and rather than having a yellow accent ring on the winding crown like the original model, the new white version of the Defy 21 Chroma II has this detail in bright blue, which has again been done to match the gradient-colored hour markers that are located next to it.
The different colors that are used on each of the new Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II watches also appear on the tips of their chronograph hands and for their power reserve indicators that sit below their 12 o’clock markers. That said, both models offer the same core dial layout with a trio of registers in a 3-6-9 format, along with a 1/100th second scale around the outer perimeter, which also appears in a rainbow-colored design to match the adjacent hour markers. That said, aside from their different colorways, both of the new Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II models offer the same overall construction and specifications, with flat anti-reflective sapphire crystals protecting their dials and display-style casebacks that are secured by four small screws. Similarly, both new models feature signed crowns flanked by rectangular pushers, while water resistance comes in at the same 100 meters that was offered by the standard-production versions of the Defy 21 Chroma.
Powering both of the new Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II watches is the chronometer-certified El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement, which is the same caliber that can be found inside the original Chroma model. The Zenith Cal. 9004 features two different escapements (one for the time and one dedicated to the chronograph), with the escapement for the time running at a frequency of 36,000vph (5 Hz), while the secondary escapement for the chronograph beats at a staggering 360,000vph (50 Hz), and this mega-high frequency is what allows the Defy 21 to measure time down to 1/100th of a second. The two escapements result in the movement having a power reserve of 50 hours, while the running time for the chronograph comes in at approximately 50 minutes, and rather than tracking the autonomy of the movement itself, the power reserve indicator is actually specifically for the chronograph. Additionally, to further lean into the colorful aesthetic approach of these two models, the star-shaped rotors of their movements have been given a bright blue metallic finish, and the Cal. 9004 sits on full display, with components of it visible through both sides of the watch.
While the black version of the new Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II offers an objectively different appearance compared to the original model, the new white Chroma II watch is undeniably very similar to last year’s edition. That said, the original Defy 21 Chroma is completely sold out, meaning that demand is clearly high for this particular aesthetic, and this new white ceramic version is essentially now filling the original’s place within Zenith’s catalog. Despite their differences, both of the new Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II watches cost the exact same and are accompanied by an official retail price of $15,600 USD, which places them more-or-less right in line with the rest of the current Defy 21 collection. Additionally, rather than being limited editions of 200 examples like the original version that debuted last year, both of the new 2023 Defy 21 Chroma II models will be produced as limited editions of 500 pieces, and they will be available from all Zenith boutiques and authorized retailers around the world. For more information on the Zenith Defy 21 Chroma II watches, please visit the brand’s website.