Cars and watches have often gone hand-in-hand. Many of the big boy brands on both sides release models collaborating with each other, as they’re often appealing to enthusiasts cut from the same cloth and excited by the same items. Some watch brands have entire collections dedicated to car collaborations. Zenith has recently released two low-key El Primero watches with an interesting brand, Land Rover. While I don’t feel the El Primero Range Rover got it’s fair shake in the market, it apparently did well because Zenith teamed up with the “Luxury Sport SUV” for a second El Primero a year later, and now again for a third time – this go-around with Zenith’s more recent collection, the Defy Classic, to produce the Zenith Defy Classic Range Rover Special Edition watch. The watch will be a super limited run, and celebrate the release of the new Range Rover Evoque.
As is pretty standard in the Defy collection, the watch utilizes a brushed titanium case. On the Defy Classic, the case measures in at a modest 41mm x 10.75mm, making this the smallest of the Land Rover collaborations. Interestingly, Zenith calls the case “resolutely unisex,” though it’s hard for me to get past the obvious masculine vibes of the watch even if it doesn’t measure like a hockey puck. The straight lug design gives the case an almost cushion-shaped aesthetic, and a flow to the watch that I find quite appealing paired with the round face. The Zenith Defy Classic Range Rover features a rubber strap with the diamond pattern from the Evoque’s upholstery, and it fits the watch nicely. It features sapphire crystals on the front and back and comes with a water resistance of 10 ATM.
The major portion of the new Range Rover’s influence comes with the dial. I have to give Zenith credit on their Zenith x Land Rover collaborations, and that’s that none of them have been obnoxious. The subtlety of the branding isn’t in-your-face and intrusive, but does a good job of melding both brands’ design language. Looking at the Zenith Defy Classic Range Rover, you wouldn’t make the immediate Land Rover connection unless you had an intimate knowledge of the new Evoque.
The most obvious (and I use that term loosely) influence is the skeletonized dial making great work of the rim design of the SUV. As opposed to the original star-shaped openwork of previous Defy Classic models, the Defy Classic Range Rover twists the cage into a “warped” star pattern mimicking the structure of the Evoque’s 5-point rims – a pretty cool nod, and I would argue a rare instance of a collaboration improving on an existing model’s design. The watch is legible, though more-or-less monochromatic save for the second major Land Rover influence, the seconds hand. Quite striking, the hand utilizes a color that Zenith call’s “Arctic Petrol” that’s apparently unique to Land Rover and channels design queues from the steering wheel and seats of the Evoque. The date window above 6 o’clock blends nicely into the background, but adds a layer of aesthetic complexity and is easily lost in the eccentric dial.
Flipping the watch over, you’ll find the curiously small Zenith Elite Calibre 670 with a matching Arctic Petrol blue osculating weight. This is the same movement that’s in the previous Defy Classics, save for the blue, and also the only place on the watch you’ll find any overt reference to the two brands. Stamped above the 12 o’clock position (and interestingly omitted from the press images) is “Defy for Range Rover”. The Elite Calibre 670 beats at 28,800 VpH and carries a power reserve of 48 hours.
I’ll come out and say it: this is how you do a collaboration. The spoke pattern of the Evoque’s rim, the Arctic Petrol unique tone of blue on the rotor and seconds hand, and “Defy for Ranger Rover” on the back of the watch… That’s it. It’s enough for owners of the vehicle to recognize the pattern, and fans of Zenith to easily identify the distinct design language of the Defy collection. I would love to see more of these kinds of subdued collaborations in the future regardless of which brands are at the helm, though I feel Zenith keeps setting the bar higher with each new Range Rover model added.
The Zenith Defy Classic Range Rover Special Edition is made in a limited 200-piece run (I don’t foresee these having a hard time finding buyers) with a price tag of CHF 7,500, about a thousand dollars more than the regular Defy Classic. Learn more at zenith-watches.com