2021 has already proven to be a strong year of releases for Zenith. With revivals of the classic smoky brown dial El Primero A385 and a fresh take on the classic El Primero look with the Chronomaster Sport, the brand has built up considerable momentum over the first month of the year. With the past and present styles of the cornerstone El Primero series both reinvigorated, the brand turns its attention to the futuristic Defy 21 series for its latest release. The new Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle adds a deep, verdant new colorway to the advanced skeleton design, adding new character to the brand’s unique 1/100 second chronograph.
The Urban Jungle’s largest change to the existing Defy 21 formula is its case design. The sharp, elemental 44mm hooded lug form of previous iterations is carried over here, but the Urban Jungle interprets this shape in a grainy olive green ceramic. This matte finish looks in images to accentuate the modernist, architectural elements of the case design, while the militaristic color palette injects a sense of streetwear flair. The broad rectangular pushers and 3 o’clock crown are rendered in bare titanium to add a touch of contrast. Along with the tough scratch resistance of ceramic, this case offers a solid 100 meters of water resistance.
Like previous iterations of the Defy 21, the dial of the Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle is an intricate skeleton framework designed to showcase as much of Zenith’s movement work as possible. The 12 o’clock power reserve indicator, 9 o’clock propeller-shaped running seconds hand, and bent 6 o’clock chronograph seconds subdial all remain visual hallmarks, but the largest indicator of the Defy 21 Urban Jungle’s capability comes with the white outer chapter ring. The central chronograph hand whips around the dial once per second thanks to the movement’s unusual architecture, allowing this scale to track readings down to the hundredth of a second. Where the Defy 21 Urban Jungle diverts from previous models is in the colorway, with a power reserve indicator and matching skeleton bridges in a khaki green brushed finish.
Inside the Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle beats the brand’s in-house El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement. Shared with other members of the Defy 21 family, the El Primero 9004’s signature feature is its double escapement system. The base movement of the watch uses an escapement with the El Primero’s signature high beat rate of 36,000 bph. On top of this, the chronograph mechanism uses a second independent escapement once engaged that beats a full ten times faster — an astounding 360,000 bph. This allows for the lightning-fast central 1/100 second chronograph hand’s movement. Naturally, this extremely high frequency runs down the mainspring very quickly, but without engaging the chronograph the El Primero 9004 offers a respectable 50 hours of power reserve. In addition to this unorthodox twin escapement design, the El Primero 9004 is COSC certified to chronometer accuracy. Lastly, the Defy 21 Urban Jungle adds a brushed olive green signed rotor to the movement, visible through the display caseback.
In keeping with the monochrome new look of the Defy 21 Urban Jungle, Zenith pairs the watch with a black-lined fabric effect rubber strap in military green. This integrated strap flows smoothly into the lines of the ceramic case, and with a uniform colorway, the design feels cohesive in initial images.
Bringing green ceramic to the brand’s lineup for the first time, the new Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle gives new character to the brand’s ultramodern and innovative chronograph line. The Zenith Defy 21 Urban Jungle is available now through authorized dealers at an MSRP of $14,500. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.