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The Zenith Defy Extreme: A Dive Into the Watchmaker’s Past and Future at Watches and Wonders

It was about time that Zenith finally completed its current collection with a watch that deserved to be called a diver: After a comparatively long hiatus, the Swiss brand has returned to “the deepest depths with the new Defy Extreme Diver, as well as a remake of one of the most sought-after vintage Zenith diver’s watches, the Defy Revival A3648.”

The modern Defy Extreme Diver comes in two dial executions with a 42.5mm angular case that is crafted in titanium (Grade 5), a metal that not only boasts a significant weight-to-strength ratio but is also highly resistant to corrosion. In addition, the case is equipped with a helium escape valve at 9 o’clock, which obviously can be seen as nod to the “Extreme” in the model’s name, since the historical predecessors (with the typical additional ring to secure the crystal) were constructed for saturation diving without needing one. Below the fixed dodecagonal bezel on the modern take, the ceramic unidirectional rotating bezel (120 clicks) features grooved edges for a better grip (but no metal frame). The bezel is engraved and filled with orange (numbers) and green (12 o’clock marker) Super-Luminova. The minute hand matches the color of the bezel’s triangle, the indexes as well as the hour and second hand shine with blue hue at night.

The dial features a geometric pattern of engraved four-pointed stars. Available in black (Ref. 95.9600.3620/21.I300) and blue (Ref. 95.9601.3620/51.I301) with matching ceramic bezels and date discs, the metallic dials feature a sunburst finish. Movement below it is the El Primero 3620-SC automatic high-frequency manufacture caliber with 60 hours of power reserve, visible through a sapphire display back.

This version of El Primero features a paramagnetic escapement with key components in non-metallic silicon.

“The oversized screw-down crown feature is protected by titanium crown-guards on either side. Just like the historical Defy A3648 from 1969, the Defy Extreme Diver is rated to 600 meters (60 ATM) of water-resistance, which happens to be 1’969 feet – a symbolic number for the Defy diver. It meets the ISO 6425 requirements for professional diver watches, which include ISO 764 for paramagnetism as well as ISO 1413 for shock-resistance, making it a comprehensive diver’s watch suited to the most demanding conditions.”

Zenith Press Release

The main source of inspiration when creating the Extreme Diver was the Defy reference A3648. Originally launched in 1969, the A3648 was not only among the earliest Defy wristwatch models, but also one of the first Defy diver’s watches. In the brand’s recent tradition of bringing back past references, the Defy Revival A3648 (Ref. 03.A3648.670/21.M3648) represents the first time ever that a vintage diver’s watch received the Revival treatment.

The Revival A3648 features a angular stainless steel case measuring 37mm in diameter. The steel fourteen-sided bezel present in Defy models from the same era is still present but positioned above the round rotating bezel. Crafted in steel, the unidirectional rotating bezel features a sapphire crystal insert instead of Plexiglas as in historical models, with the same black on bright orange markings – one of the historical A3648’s most coveted features. Movement is the Elite 670 automatic manufacture movement, with a power reserve of 50 hours. And, just like on the original, the Defy Revival A3648 comes on a five-link steel bracelet with folding buckle, modelled after the bracelet the famed Gay Frères company had made for the original.

Speaking of bracelets: the larger Extreme Diver comes on a titanium bracelet with the brand’s quick-change strap system, plus a rubber strap as well as a one-piece textile strap, the later requiring two adapters with fixed lugs (and thus covering the sapphire display back).

Pricing: Defy Extreme Diver $11,300 (CHF 10,900) / Defy Revival A3648 $7,700 (CHF 7,400)

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