That dial is heavily influenced by Aston Martin DB4 Zagato, taking on characteristics of that vehicle’s dashboard. The watch definitely has an instrument-like appearance to it that’s really appealing, with red accents, radial grooves, and big Arabic numerals counting every fifth minute around the dial’s perimeter. The case is from Christopher Ward’s C65 line, measuring 41mm in diameter and just a little over 12mm thick. The finishing on Christopher Ward’s recent C65 pieces is outstanding for the money, and there’s little reason to think the C65 AM GT will be any different.
The C65 AM GT is a limited edition of just 350 watches, and was created exclusively for Christopher Ward’s big July sale. It’s currently still available with a price tag of $680 on a stainless steel bracelet. Christopher Ward
Since the late 1960s, the Defy has been Zenith’s go-to recipe for a progressive take on watchmaking. In this article, from the May-June 2020 issue, WatchTime takes a look at the current state of the Swiss brand’s collection.
More than 50 years ago, Zenith introduced a new type of sports watch under the name Defy. As a member of the LVMH Watch Division, and under the leadership of Zenith’s CEO Julien Tornare, the brand successfully developed the Defy into one of its most innovative and creative product ranges, both in terms of movement expertise and materials. This year, the Defy finally saw the launch of a new women’s watch collection, the Defy Midnight, and some surprising launches with car manufacturer Land Rover and with Carl Cox, a British house and techno record producer and DJ.
The Defy collection was my new growth engine that enabled me to keep our head out of the water.
Julien Tornare, Zenith CEO
“A Taste for Performance”
In the late ’60s, the same time Zenith launched its legendary El Primero movement, the Defy started its career as Zenith’s “best-protected watch.” It was positioned as a rugged, heavy-duty sports watch, or the ideal “daily beater,” as this type of watch is often referred to among collectors nowadays. With “a patented movement suspension system plus an elastic shock-absorbing ring,” Zenith promoted the Defy simply as “a tough guy,” offering everything so that customers “may never need to buy another watch.” Furthermore, the list of features indeed was impressive. The first Zenith Defy (A3645) with Caliber 2552 PC came with a distinctive, surprisingly progressive octagonal case, water-resistant up to 300 meters, thanks to its screw-down mineral crystal, screw-down caseback and a screw-down crown. On top of that, the hardened mineral glass could easily be replaced, if needed, thanks to the outer screw-down ring with 16 facets. Simultaneously, Zenith also introduced the Defy Plongeur (A3648/A3649) with a similar case, but with a rotatable bezel on top and a crown positioned between 4 and 5 o’clock for increased protection and comfort. And the watches certainly lived up to expectations. In 1971, Zenith had six watches affixed to “the back wheel spokes of a motorcycle” during a speed contest at the Wembley stadium; all six Defy watches survived the test “very well.” In the same year, a Zenith Defy crossed the Channel on a monoski and afterward was also certified “to run as well as before.” Not long after that, the Le Locle-based brand expanded the collection with equally reliable women’s watches.
By 1977, the Defy range had begun to “make tomorrow’s promise come true today.” In ads from that period, “accuracy, ruggedness, water resistance, multifunctional practicalness” were cited as the four characteristics of the range. But while the Defy seemed almost indestructible, the industry was not. When the Quartz Crisis rattled the Swiss watch industry throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Zenith’s parent company decided the watchmaker would produce exclusively quartz watches to remain competitive. Fortunately, this decision was later reversed, and Zenith was purchased by the LVMH group in 2000. Six years later, the Defy collection was revived in 2006 with the “Defy Classic” and “Defy Xtreme.” A year later, the models already accounted for 25 percent of the brand’s turnover. While the design elements consisted of rather bold combinations of pink gold, titanium, steel, and rubber, the watches still offered “external and internal shock absorbers.” In 2008, Zenith added the Defy Xtreme Zero G, a watch with an entirely new mechanical concept for a balance mechanism that was placed on a gimbal system.
Entering the 21st Century of Watchmaking
In mid-2017, Julien Tornare became Chief Executive Officer at Zenith and ultimately the driving force to revitalize the traditional Swiss brand, a task he described as having “to wake up the sleeping beauty” when we sat down with him in January. More precisely, Tornare understood that Zenith needed a diversification beyond the El Primero, and a more contemporary approach to watchmaking in general. “That’s why we came with the Defy 21, the Defy Inventor, etc. Defy was my new growth engine.” Defy also became Zenith’s creative platform to launch a majority of the brand’s technological innovations. Working with LVMH’s Science Institute, Zenith revealed the Defy Lab in September 2017, a radically new watch with a new type of oscillator, designed as a compliant mechanism. The oscillator was etched from a wafer of silicon and combined the functions of the balance, balance spring, and lever in one single piece resulting in an “almost 10 times higher… degree of accuracy.” The Defy Lab, an extremely limited, pre-sold series of 10 timepieces, finally went into serial production as the Defy Inventor (Ref. 95.9001.9100/78.R920), unveiled at Baselworld 2019. The oscillator’s 129,600 vph, or 18 Hz, are still visible from the dial side of the movement thanks to an openwork architecture. Additionally, the 44-mm brushed titanium case has been equipped with a textured bezel made from Aeronith, a high-tech aluminum composite that Zenith says is the lightest such material in the world. Made from pure aluminum foam and stiffened with a polymer, Aeronith is three times lighter than titanium and lends the watch a definitive industrial-modern aesthetic.
The same year saw the launch of the Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon (Ref. 40.9000.9020/78.R582 in platinum and 10.9000.9020/79.R918 in carbon), whose avant-garde design features two separate escapements and a stopwatch function that can measure elapsed times to 1/100th second.
Zenith also reintroduced the fusée-and-chain mechanism with the Defy Fusée Tourbillon. Available in two distinct case materials in carbon (Ref. 10.9000.4805/78.R916) and platinum (Ref. 40.9000.4805/75.R582), the chain alone is made of 575 individually hand-assembled components.
Today, the Defy collection consists of five product families: the Defy El Primero 21, with the 1/100th-second chronograph movement; the Defy Zero G with Gravity Control, the gyroscopic module that ensures horizontal positioning of the regulating organ (now only 30 percent of its initial volume); the Defy Classic automatic watches with titanium, ceramic or rose-gold cases (and soon carbon); the Defy Inventor; and, since 2020, the Defy Midnight, a women’s watch collection “in line with the 21st-century woman.” Additionally, Zenith recently unveiled a number of High Jewelry editions of two of its most emblematic pieces from the Defy collection, the Defy El Primero 21 and the Defy Classic.
Inspiration from the Cosmos
Zenith undoubtedly looked to the sky when the brand created the Defy Midnight, a versatile women’s watch with a celestial dial. “With our newest models, it is the first time that Zenith has conceived women’s watches from the ground up,” said Tornare during the launch in January. Housed in a 36-mm stainless-steel case embellished with brilliant-cut diamonds, the dial of the Defy Midnight gives Zenith’s “time to reach your star” philosophy a literal, visual manifestation. Available in deep blue or gray colors, the dial features a glossy finish with a vertical gradient effect for more depth. Logically, the brand’s faceted star emblem is the highest, brightest point in the depicted night sky.
This for me is the best timepiece we have created with Zenith.
Gerry McGovern, Land Rover Chief Creative Officer
Completing the celestial landscape are stars of different sizes — some of which glow in the dark. A third dial made of white mother-of-pearl with a vertical-gradient effect evokes moonlight on a cloudy night. White diamonds are applied on every hour marker, except at 3 o’clock where the date window is placed. Equipped with the automatic Elite in-house movement Caliber 670, the Defy Midnight provides autonomy of 50 hours. The collection also features an assortment of bracelets and straps that can easily be swapped by the wearer, allowing the Defy Midnight to adapt itself to different looks and situations. Each Defy Midnight will come in a special box with three additional colored straps and an interchangeable folding clasp.
Return of the Defender
In January, Zenith also unveiled its fourth watch produced in collaboration with British car manufacturer Land Rover — the new limited-edition Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover (Ref. 97.9000.9004/01.R787). Like the previous three watches from the Land Rover x Zenith partnership, which began in 2016, this latest model is an automotive-influenced timepiece, in line with the understated elegance one would expect from these two historic brands. The timing of the watch’s release has been coordinated with that of Land Rover’s new 2020 Defender— an all-terrain SUV series first showcased in 1948 and making its return to the U.S. market after having been discontinued in 1997. The watch introduces a special redesign of the Defy El Primero 21 base model, using a 44-mm microblasted and faceted titanium case, boosted by its stylish chronograph pushers and orange-accented crown. The closed dial of the watch matches the case, and features a 1/100th-second chronograph counter on its outer edges, a printed white minutes ring just within it, and three subdials for running seconds, a 60-seconds counter and a 30-minute counter at the 9, 6 and 3 o’clock positions, respectively. The display also features, for the first time in a Defy 21, a linear power-reserve window.
The engine is the El Primero 9004 automatic movement with a 50-hour power reserve — the same well-known super-high-frequency chronograph caliber used in the other Defy El Primero 21 models. The 250 pieces will be available with a gray rubber “Adventure” strap, with an additional canvas “Country” strap, both of which fasten to the wrist with a microblasted titanium double-folding buckle.
Creature of the Night
For 2020, Zenith also introduced its newest Friend of the Brand, world-renowned DJ and producer Carl Cox. For his first eponymous special-edition watch, the Defy 21 Carl Cox (Ref. 10.9001.9004/99.R941), limited to 200 pieces, Zenith came up with a carbon fiber bezel and strap stitching that glow in the dark. Additionally, the open dial “keeps the beat pumping” with a rotating disk shaped like a vinyl record at 9 o’clock, serving as a running seconds indicator. “I am very lucky that I am able to share my love of music all over the world. All of us have the power within us to feel the beat and dance — my job is to bring that energy out and to unite everyone on the dance floor. In a similar way, Zenith is about elevating the art of watchmaking and sharing its innovations with the world, so collaborating with them on a watch with a high-frequency beat felt very natural,” Cox said.
After more than 50 years, the Defy most definitely hasn’t lost its original “taste for performance.” But it appears that, with so many unique executions and complications, it’s now become more than ever an indicator of the creative potential of the Swiss watch industry.
It helps that these are well specced sports watches that offer lots of bang for your buck. And there’s not a lot of buck involved at all. The retail price on these is $525, and for that you get the aforementioned Eco-Drive movement (a great grab and go option if ever there was one), dual time capability, a shock and magnetism resistant stainless steel case, 200 meters of water resistance, and a sapphire crystal. At 44mm, this is a large watch by almost any standard, but I think that’s part of the charm of the thing. This is not a season for discretion or watches that can be hidden neatly under a shirt cuff. Besides, those cuffed shirts should be put away for the season.
These new Citizen Promaster GMT are available now directly from Citizen and at authorized dealers. Citizen
Fans of the Monacoracing watch – introduced in 1969 as one of the world’s first automatic chronographs – love its blue sunburst dial and contrasting silver counters, red hands, and square shape with its expansive sapphire crystal and faceted edges. The newest version, the TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre Heuer 02, our test watch, offers these same visual features, all of which TAG Heuer has continued to refine based on the earlier Monaco Calibre 12 model. The once-flat registers are now slightly recessed, giving the design more depth and interest.
Here’s another update: the symmetrical arrangement now shows elapsed minutes and hours rather than minutes and seconds. The running seconds indication is now placed at 6 o’clock — a clever solution even though every minute the seconds hand sweeps across the date window for a period of several seconds. With its use of the new movement, TAG Heuer designed a clear layout of the displays, but this also involved a compromise. Including the small seconds display at 6 required moving the “Automatic” lettering upward and placing it between the two registers.
A Modern Manufacture Movement
Changes to the dial layout are based on a fundamental innovation. With automatic Caliber Heuer 02, TAG Heuer is now using a fully developed, in-house chronograph movement in its Monaco line. Recall that the original Caliber 11 from 1969 was a collaborative project between Heuer, Breitling, and Hamilton-Büren in addition to the module specialist Dubois Dépraz, which contributed the chronograph mechanism. The long-awaited in-house base chronograph movement first appeared in 2017 as the Caliber Heuer 02, which was introduced in the retro model Autavia Calibre Heuer 02. Previously at TAG Heuer, “only” the complex Calibre Heuer 02-T was available (with an additional tourbillon) and before that, the Calibre Heuer 01, based on a Seiko movement.
Now, for the first time, a Monaco chronograph is powered by a true manufacture movement. This innovation actually brings real advantages to the user. Mechanical watch fans can use it to measure intervals of up to 12 hours instead of just 30 minutes, and when fully wound, the Monaco Caliber 02 runs for up to 80 hours — almost twice as long as its original 42-hour power reserve — so you can take off the watch on Friday and put it back on Monday morning without any problem or interruption. And the new movement complements the Monaco visually, with its modern, high-tech look, generous diameter of 31 mm and large sapphire crystal in the caseback. The new model is much more appealing from the back than the similarly designed Monaco Calibre 12 with the ETA 2894 movement, or the Monaco Calibre 11 with a modified Sellita SW300 movement and the crown on the left.
However, the new manufacture caliber does have one disadvantage compared to the previous movements: the unidirectional rotor is rather noisy on its return. In our test of the Autavia Calibre Heuer 02, the sounds made by the rotor were not quite as noticeable, which is probably due to the different case construction.
Quality and Operation
Our real-life test on the wrist of the Monaco Calibre Heuer 02 showed a gain of only 3 seconds per day. On the electronic timing machine, the gain was only 2 seconds, ideal for a mechanical watch.
This newest variation of the well-known watch shows its mettle both in its finishing and its ease of operation. The interestingly shaped pushers with their protective guard rings are easy to use thanks to the column-wheel control of the chronograph, and the vertical clutch ensures that the stopwatch hand start is quick and smooth. It is also easy to open and close the alligator leather strap with single-sided safety folding clasp and to adjust it to the perfect length using the integrated clamping mechanism.
However, we found one drawback to the watch’s excellent craftsmanship: the substantial 39 mm by 39 mm stainless-steel case and its dramatic 15.1-mm height, in combination with its square shape, is not as comfortable to wear as you might like. But this certainly won’t deter Monaco fans from this new version, the first chronograph with a 100-percent in-house movement, especially since the $6,150 price tag is the same as that of the Monaco Calibre 11 with the crown on the left.
Since all the positive features of previous Monaco models remain unchanged, and the new movement offers a number of additional upgrades, we can conclude that anyone who doesn’t mind the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock and the relocation of the “Automatic” lettering will see this new manufacture watch as the best Monaco of all time.
SPECS: Manufacturer: TAG Heuer SA, Rue L.-J. Chevrolet 6a, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland Model: TAG Heuer Monaco Calibre Heuer 02 Reference number: CBL2111.FC6453 Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, date Movement:Manufacture Caliber Heuer 02, automatic, 28,800 vph, 33 jewels, hack mechanism, quick date adjustment, column wheel, vertical clutch, eccentric fine regulator, Kif shock absorber, 80-hour power reserve, diameter = 31 mm, height = 6.95 mm Case: Stainless steel, curved sapphire crystal with no anti-glare coating, sapphire crystal caseback with 4 screws, water resistant to 100 meters Strap and clasp: Alligator strap with safety folding clasp Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours (With chronograph switched off/on): Dial up -1/0 Dial down +2/+3 Crown up -4/-2 Crown down +9/+10 Crown left +4/+5 Crown right +2/+3 Greatest deviation 13/12 Average deviation +2/+3.2 Average amplitude: Flat positions 270°/263° Hanging positions 241°/235° Price: $6,150 Dimensions: Diameter = 39 mm by 39 mm, height = 15.1 mm, weight = 122 grams
SCORES: Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): The perfectly finished alligator strap can be adjusted to any length thanks to the clever and comfortable safety folding clasp with clamping mechanism. 9 Operation (5): The pushers are large but the flat crown is hard to grasp. A hack mechanism and quick-date adjustment are provided. 4 Case (10): The complex shapes and flawlessly machined surfaces are fascinating. 9 Design (15): An absolute classic. Only the small seconds subdial at 6 o’clock is a point of debate. 13 Legibility (5): Ideal hand length, but the fine markings on the minutes track make it difficult to read the minutes with precision. Both the hands and hour markers glow with sufficient brightness. 4 Wearing comfort (10): The square shape of the case and its 15.1 mm height detract from optimum comfort. 7 Movement (20): The in-house chronograph movement Caliber Heuer 02 has a number of quality features — column wheel, vertical clutch and a long power reserve, plus a modern and attractive look. 16 Rate results (10): The daily gain of 2 seconds, measured electronically, is almost perfect. Only the deviation between the positions of 13 seconds is rather high. 7 Overall value (15): A good price ($6,150) for an in-house chronograph with a legendary design 13 Total:82 POINTS
Wow, that’s hot! Show up wearing the Breitling Avenger Chronograph 45 Night Mission, and that’s how you’ll be greeted. This chronograph is one of 14 models presented last fall as the reinvigorated and streamlined Avenger collection, including four watches that replace the former Colt collection.
Such enthusiasm for our test watch! It’s no doubt because of its sporty, striking design with a military green dial and strap as well as its dark coated case, which gave the watch its “Night Mission” name. Everything about it exudes strength and robustness: the wide stepped bezel, the sturdy ringed chronograph pushers, the large screw-down crown with crown guard, the striking hour markers and the calfskin strap with an industrial-looking embossed pattern.
Size alone is not the determining factor in making its powerful impression – even though the watch measures 45 mm across and a strapping 16.5 mm in height, neither dimension is really all that noticeable and surprisingly, the wearing comfort is still great. With its smooth underside, supple leather strap and flat buckle, the watch fits snugly on the wrist. Of course, the light 120-gram weight also plays a role, thanks to Breitling’s use of titanium.
A Striking Design The solid watch case has a DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating that increases the surface hardness and adds to the industrial/military look of the watch. The carbon coating Breitling uses is more anthracite in color than pure black and is a better match with the khaki green components.
The brushed finish on the case fits the overall military design of the watch. There’s only one minor drawback: despite the matte surface, it’s still possible to see fingerprints here and there, and they’re more difficult to wipe off the stepped bezel than they would be with a simpler case design.
The dial stands out with the military-look numerals that have been an iconic part of the Avenger collection from the outset. Such stenciled numerals are painted on military vehicles and other equipment – the vertical line you see here on the 0, 4, and 8 is a typical feature.
Striking Luminosity Numerals, hands, and the luminous dot on the unidirectional rotating bezel glow brightly at night, so legibility is guaranteed for many hours. It is just as easy to read the time during the day as at night — at least approximately, because the minutes track around the edge of the dial is extremely fine and doesn’t offer a great deal of contrast to the dark khaki green background. There is also a lack of contrast in the dark gray chronograph hands, so legibility is reduced here as well.
Overall finishing is excellent and designed for functionality. Thanks to a high water resistance of up to 300 meters and the unidirectional bezel and luminous dot, this pilots’ watch (with a different strap, of course) can also be used as a dive watch. The pronounced structure on the bezel makes it easy to grasp and sturdy guard rings protect the chronograph pushers from damage from side impacts. The caseback is simple — solid titanium with beige-enhanced engraving of the Breitling name and watch specs.
A Solid Movement The chronograph is easy to start, stop and reset. Maybe a little too easy — crisper pressure points would be a better fit for the powerful appearance of the new Avenger.
Breitling submits 100 percent of its watches for chronometer certification so the new Avenger encases the Breitling 13 caliber based on the Sellita automatic SW500 “Chronomètre,” the highest of its three quality categories.
The official Swiss testing agency COSC confirms that the movement runs at a rate of between -4 and +6 seconds per day in five positions while the chronograph is engaged. We also checked the sixth position known as “crown right,” the most common position when looking directly at a watch, and often the position when a watch rests on a watch winder for several hours. The electronic timing machine showed an acceptable average daily rate of +4.7 seconds and a small maximum difference between the individual positions of 6 seconds. This was confirmed during our real-life test on the wrist where the Avenger gained almost 5 seconds per day.
The only fault found in the otherwise sturdy and accurate chronograph movement is the detectable play in the hands of our test watch when setting the time. To compensate for the slack, it’s important to advance the minutes hand forward first and then move it backward to set the exact time so the hand will engage properly upon returning the crown to its locked position and as the movement begins to run.
Good Overall Impression All in all, the test confirmed our first impression. Breitling has created a sturdy sports watch that is suitable for everyday wear, and whose design is in harmony with its functionality. The design, finishing, comfort and ease-of-use of this new model are particularly pleasing, and the only real drawback is the difficulty in reading the elapsed time.
The Avenger Chronograph 45 Night Mission is therefore the right companion for sports and everyday missions, whether by day or, as the name suggests, by night.
SPECS: Manufacturer: Breitling Chronometrie, Allée du Laser 10, 2300 La Chaux-de-Fonds, Switzerland Reference number: V13317101L1X1 Functions: Hours, minutes, small seconds, chronograph with seconds, 30-minute and 12-hour counters, date Movement: Breitling 13 based on Sellita SW500 “Chronomètre,” automatic, chronometer, 28,800 vph, 25 jewels, hack mechanism, quick date adjustment, eccentric fine regulator, Incabloc shock absorber, Glucydur balance, 48-hour power reserve, diameter= 30 mm, height = 7.9 mm Case: DLC (diamond-like carbon) coated titanium, unidirectional rotating bezel, curved sapphire crystal with anti-glare coating on both sides, screw-down crown, fully threaded DLC-coated titanium caseback, water resistant to 30 meters Strap and clasp: Calfskin strap with DLC-coated titanium pin buckle Rate results (Deviation in seconds per 24 hours, chronograph switched off/on): Dial up +4 / +5 Dial down +7 / +8 Crown up +6 / +6 Crown down +4 / +6 Crown left +6 / +4 Crown right +1 / +5 Greatest deviation 6 / 4 Average deviation +4.7 / +5.7 Average amplitude: Flat positions 301° / 280° Hanging positions 282° / 256° Dimensions: Diameter = 45 mm, height = 16.5 mm, weight = 120 g Variations: With black dial and strap with pin buckle (Ref. V13317101B1X1, $5,835); with khaki green dial and safety folding clasp (Ref. V13317101L1X2, $6,035) Price: $5,835
SCORES: Strap and clasp (max. 10 points): The calfskin strap with textile-like embossed pattern and the black-coated pin buckle are well made. 8 Operation (5): Hack mechanism, quick-date adjustment, large crown and a stepped rotating bezel make operation easy. 5 Case (10): The case is well executed, is water resistant to 300 meters and has sturdy protective pusher rings. The caliber based on a supplied movement explains a solid caseback. 8 Design (15): The new Avenger is an impressive sports watch. The blue anti-glare coating on the crystal detracts from an otherwise green watch. 13 Legibility (5): The hands for the time and hour markers are easy to discern both day and night, but the discreet tracks and the chronograph hands do not stand out enough from the background. 3 Wearing comfort (10): Surprisingly, this large and bulky sports watch is perfectly comfortable to wear. 10 Movement (20): The chronometer-certified Breitling 13 based on the Sellita SW500 has decorative finishes on all visible surfaces and gold-enhanced engraving on the rotor. 14 Rate results (10): The rate results meet chronometer standards. 8 Overall value (15): The price is largely justified by the numerous updates in design, finishing and ease of operation. 12 Total: 81 POINTS