In the spectrum of visible light, no color has a higher frequency than violet, the last wavelength before the transition to invisible ultraviolet light. When Zenith searched for a unique color to use for a new variant of the ultra high frequency Defy 21 1/100 second chronograph, then, violet was the natural choice. The resulting Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is a striking showcase of the brand’s cutting-edge mechanical watchmaking, wrapped up in a truly unmistakable package.
For the Defy 21 Ultraviolet, Zenith uses the same 44 mm bead blasted titanium case as other members of the Defy 21 family. This bold, angular shape is completely matte in texture, which coupled to the darker tone of titanium leads to an aggressive, futuristic overall feel. The case boasts a solid 100 meters of water resistance, despite the sapphire display back.
Beyond the vibrant purple elements, the dial of the Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is a first for the brand. This is the first regular production Defy 21 to receive a skeleton dial with full chronograph subdials, which makes this a far more instantly legible design than many contemporary skeleton chronographs. Each of the three subidals at 3, 6, and 9 o’clock is handsomely recessed with a separate sloping outer ring, adding even further depth to an already multi-layered dial, and finishing off with the signature Zenith overlap. Of course, the real visual centerpiece is that violet anodized bridge assembly, finished in three distinct layers each with its own distinct shade of purple and unique surfacing ranging from brushed, to polished, to blasted. The rest of the dial allows itself to fall into the background visually, with a 12 o’clock power reserve indicator that nearly disappears among all the other visual drama. Likewise, the polished rhodium baton hands and applied “floating” indices are handsome, but kept visually quiet to preserve the centerpiece of the design.
Although it’s not new beyond the eye-catching violet treatment, the in-house El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement inside the Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is still a deeply impressive piece of machinery. In order for the 1/100 second central chronograph hand to complete a full circuit of the dial each second, the movement features two independent escapements. The first, for the main timekeeping functions, beats at an already smooth 36,000 bph, while a second dedicated escapement for the chronograph mechanism vibrates ten times as fast – a blinding 360,000 bph frequency. On top of this, Zenith adds a linear power reserve indicator, running seconds, a 60-second chronograph register and finally a 30-minute register. The movement is also chronometer certified for accuracy, with a 50 hour power reserve, and continues the violet theme on the backside with Zenith’s intricate star shaped rotor also anodized in deep purple.
Of course, the Defy 21 Ultraviolet would not be complete without a matching purple strap. Zenith delivers here, with a royal purple fabric-effect strap with a supple black rubber lining. This is then finished off with a blasted titanium butterfly clasp.
While the bold violet color scheme may not be to everyone’s taste, there’s no denying the technical achievement behind the Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet. The Zenith Defy 21 Ultraviolet is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of 13,400 CHF. For more information, please visit Zenith’s website.