Just released for LVMH Watch Week is the new Zenith Defy Skyline, a new steel sports watch that serves as something of a follow-up to the runaway success Chronomaster Sport. Zenith sets the Defy Skyline apart with a new movement characterized by a quick-paced 1/10th second sub-dial in a package designed for widespread appeal and mainstream success. Taking bracelet and octagonal case cues from the Defy Classic and adding a vintage Defy dodecagonal bezel, the Defy Skyline presents a compelling — if not wholly original — new entry into the four-figure sports watch market.
My first observation when I picked up the Defy Skyline is just how well-finished the entire package is. The alternating brushed and polished finishes are top-notch, as are the dial and movement. As a whole, I can say without hyperbole that it’s on par with offerings from hype (and not so hype) watches that sell for substantially more than the price of the Defy Skyline. I think LVMH has a strong appreciation of the power of first impressions, and the Defy Skyline is a perfect example of this in play. Derivative design be damned, this is so much watch for the money.
I got my hands on the black dial variant, but it also comes in blue and silver. Something I enjoy when handling a brand new watch in the metal is that, oftentimes, the press releases aren’t ready, so I discover certain details on my own. What I initially thought was a tapisserie or waffle pattern on the dial revealed itself as the four-pointed star repeating pattern under the magnification of a loupe. This dial work, nicely applied indices, and Zenith star logo, large legible hands, and, yes, matching date window come together in the best way. And that 1/10th seconds subdial (which is driven directly from the escapement) moving at its rapid pace is a topic of conversation if you’d like it to be and quite easily ignored otherwise, like any seconds subdial. The GIF I created gives an accurate representation of how it looks in action.
Measuring 41mm-wide and just about 11.2mm-thick, the Defy Skyline is pretty ideally sized for contemporary buyers. The screw-down crown helps ensure the 100m of water resistance so you don’t have to worry about swimming with it either. It wears very comfortably on the wrist with some decent heft and perfect weight distribution. The Defy Skyline bracelet is finished with excellent chamfered and polished edges that seamlessly echo the case and, while a micro-adjust would make it truly perfect, the butterfly clasp feels nice and secure.
LVMH knows how to do a quick-change bracelet/strap system, and that proficiency is on full display here. The pushers on the caseback are easy to use, and reattaching is done by simply clicking it back in. It’s intuitive and feels secure, which is about all one can ask for. All this is to say that in addition to the stainless steel bracelet, the Defy Skyline also comes with a matching rubber strap that has sleek lines framing the matching star pattern running down the center. The strap is supple, lightweight, and comfortable with a steel folding clasp, as well. The strap you see here is black, but the blue dial comes with a blue strap and the silver dial comes with an olive green strap.
The Zenith Defy Skyline debuts the new El Primero 3620 movement, which has a very similar architecture to the El Primero 3600 1/10th second movement we saw in the Chronomaster Sport. With a classic El Primero frequency of 36,000 vph, the 3620 has a 60-hour power reserve. It also boasts hacking seconds and a silicon escape wheel and lever. It’s all topped off with a star-shaped rotor that ties the visual themes together.
The steel sports watch market has been ravaged by scarcity and hype, leaving so many enthusiasts irritated and neglected in its wake. With the Defy Skyline, LVMH and Zenith have created a fully thought-out true luxury sports watch that doesn’t cut corners and has actual unique horological chops. Could the design be seen as derivative? Sure, but there are also plenty of aspects that are distinctly Zenith. With a price of $8,400, the Zenith Defy Skyline is more than fairly priced and will inevitably be a commercial success, and deservedly so. You can learn more at zenith-watches.com.