The rainbow watch design trend has become a major force in the modern industry, with luxury brands turning to vibrant color as a new way to grab consumer attention on top of exotic and precious materials. The rainbow look shows no sign of slowing down for 2022, and as part of its LVMH Watch Week novelties, Zenith brings this high-impact spectral style to its advanced and ultra-modern Defy 21 chronograph line. Rather than using the colors of the rainbow as pure ornamentation, the new limited edition Zenith Defy 21 Chroma uses its wild and vibrant color scheme to draw attention to the inner workings of its complex in-house movement.
By rendering the Defy 21 series’ familiar angular 44mm case in milky matte white ceramic, the Zenith Defy 21 Chroma creates a bright monochrome foundation for its colorful highlights to build upon. Although some of the geometric facets of this semi-integrated case are lost to the brightness of the finish in images, this almost featureless optic white look is striking in its own way. Zenith crafts the broad rectangular pushers and prominent 3 o’clock crown of the Defy 21 Chroma in matte blasted titanium and introduces the first of this design’s colorful highlights with a sunny yellow accent ring surrounding the heavy gear teeth of the crown. Like the rest of the Defy 21 series, the Defy 21 Chroma offers a solidly sporting 100 meters of water resistance.
Zenith takes a left-field approach to introducing rainbow color to the skeleton dial of the Defy 21 Chroma. For the most part, the skeleton subdials and chapter rings keep the bright optic-white color palette of the case intact, but Zenith adds color to these elements as an accent rather than an overwhelming force in images. The beveled applied indices work to establish this color palette throughout the dial, with a lacquer fill beginning with deep red at 12 o’clock and transitioning incrementally to yellow at 3 o’clock, royal blue at 6 o’clock, and rich violet at 9 o’clock. Zenith’s attention to detail gives this prismatic color palette a sense of exquisite quality in images. For the outer 1/100-second chronograph scale, each of the printed numerals follows the lead of the corresponding hour index nearest to it, but works to “fill in the blanks” seamlessly. For example, the “20” marker in between the orange 2 o’clock index and the yellow index at 3 o’clock splits the difference between the two with a warm yellow-orange tone, while the “30” marker in between 3 o’clock and the medium green index at 4 o’clock is rendered in a grassy chartreuse. Each of the three chronograph subdials as well as the 12 o’clock power reserve indicator also follow this color gradient, but Zenith’s attention to detail shines through brightest below the dial surface itself. Each of the movement bridges visible beneath the skeleton dial is PVD-coated in a unique color, drawing immediate attention to the mainspring barrel, balance wheel, and gear train with vivid orange, green and blue highlights in initial images.
Zenith powers the Defy 21 Chroma with its in-house El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement. The El Primero 9004’s unique and advanced 1/100-second mechanical chronograph hand has made this a flagship among the brand’s movement lineup, both in terms of performance and sheer spectacle. To achieve this level of chronograph precision, the El Primero 9004 features a pair of escapements. The first of these regulates the base movement, beating at the El Primero line’s standard 36,000 bph. The chronograph complication carries its own separate escapement, and once activated this second escapement vibrates at a lightning-fast 360,000 bph – a full 100 times each second. Outside of this extreme high-frequency design, the movement also offers solid performance, with a respectable 50-hour power reserve. Zenith completes the rainbow look of the Defy 21 Chroma with a semi-integrated fabric-effect white rubber strap. To give the whole piece a cohesive look in images, the side stitches of this strap are rendered in vibrant red, orange, blue, and green.
With a bright and unorthodox approach to a rainbow colorway that works in harmony with its exotic in-house movement, the limited edition Zenith Defy 21 Chroma takes a handsome and holistic approach to the ongoing rainbow watch trend. Only 200 examples of the Zenith Defy 21 Chroma will be made, and the watch is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for this model stands at $14,500 as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.