Watches & Wonders 2024: Zenith Defy Extreme Diver

Watches & Wonders 2024: Zenith Defy Extreme Diver

In recent years, Zenith has streamlined its various product families while at the same time introducing a range of styles, materials, and colorways to appeal to as wide and diverse an audience as possible. What has been conspicuously absent from the manufacture’s lineup for more than a few years, however, has been a purpose-built watch for divers. At Watches & Wonders Geneva 2024, Zenith fills this long-unoccupied niche in its portfolio with the Defy Extreme Diver, the latest extension of the boldly stylish, envelope-pushing Defy collection. 

The Zenith Extreme Diver, launching in two dial color options of black and blue, takes inspiration from a watch originally released in 1969 as part of the first wave of Defy models, the Zenith Ref. A3648, the first dive watch in the collection. At the same time, the watch is unmistakably a member of the modern Defy family, with its hallmark angular case and dodecagonal bezel. The case, measuring 42.5mm, is forged from titanium, a metal prized for its strength-to-weight ratio as well as its resistance to corrosion — including from the salt water this watch is designed to encounter on its undersea missions. 

Moreover, the case is rated to a punishing 600 meters of water resistance, just like its vintage predecessor — an impressive feat back in 1969 and still a rarity in dive watches today, especially in models like this one, which include a sapphire-crystal display caseback rather than a solid, sealed back. (Six hundred meters, incidentally, is equivalent to 1,969 feet, making for a utilitarian tribute to the Defy collection’s debut year.)  Further cementing the watch’s “Extreme” bonafides is a helium-release valve built into the case, making it useful for saturation diving. Overall, the Defy Extreme Diver meets the ISO 6425 standards for dive watches, which include international standards for paramagnetism and shock resistance as well as underwater robustness.

The screw-down crown is protected on both its flanks by titanium crown guards. Above the 12-sided fixed bezel is another bezel in ceramic, unidirectional with an engraved dive scale and grooved edges for easy operation with diving gloves. The dial, which color-matches the ceramic bezel on both models and features orange details in homage to the 1969 original,  has an engraved geometric motif of four-pointed stars and a sunburst finish that emanates from the Zenith star emblem at 12 o’clock. The date appears in a window at 3 o’clock and the hands and hour markers feature no less than three distinct pigments of X1 Super-LumiNova — blue, green, and orange — for optimum legibility in the dark or deep underwater. 


Zenith’s El Primero Caliber 3620-C beats inside the case, offering a power reserve of 60 hours. This non-chronograph version of the groundbreaking El Primero, outfitted with a paramagnetic escapement with key components made of silicon, boasts the same high frequency as its predecessors (36,000 vph, or 5Hz), giving the watch reliable accuracy to 1/10 second. The Defy Extreme Diver comes on a titanium three-link bracelet, along with two supplied, interchangeable straps: one in Cordura-effect FKM rubber in a dial-matching color, the other an extra-long single-piece NATO-style strap, made of recycled fishing nets and designed to be worn over a wetsuit. The Zenith Defy Extreme Diver will retail for $11,300.

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