Zenith Defy El Primero 21: Malaysia Price And Review

Written by

Zenith takes the El Primero into the future.

In 1969, Zenith wrote itself into horological history by introducing the world’s first-ever high frequency automatic chronograph, the El Primero, (meaning ‘the first’ in Esperanto). Key to the watch’s claim to fame was the El Primero 3019 movement inside (below), beating at an astounding 36,000 vibrations per hour (vph). To put things in perspective, typical chronograph movements, such as the widely used Valjoux 7750, beat at 28,800 vph.

Zenith El Primero 3019 movement
Zenith El Primero 3019 movement from 1969

Coupled with features like 50-hour power reserve and the ability to measure time precise to one tenth of a second, the original El Primero, was – and still is – one of the most accurate automatic chronographs of all time. That is until Zenith decided to go one-up on itself.
The new Defy El Primero 21, named so because it was meant to be an El Primero for the 21st century, takes things further with the newly developed El Primero 9004 movement.

Get the latest watch reviews and comparisons straight to your inbox!

Zenith Defy El Primero 21 in ceramicised aluminium
Zenith Defy El Primero 21 in black ceramicised aluminium

The El Primero 9004 can measure time accurate to – get this – one-hundredth of a second. It does so with the help of an additional escapement. One escapement regulates normal time telling, which beats at 36,000vph; and the other for the chronograph mechanism, which beats 10 times faster at 360,000vph. Each escapement features a balance spring made Carbon-Matrix Carbon Nanotubes, a newly patented material that’s incredibly lightweight, but resistant to temperature fluctuations and magnetic fields of over 15,000 gauss.

Zenith Defy El Primero 21 in brushed titanium
Zenith Defy El Primero 21 in brushed titanium

Housed in a 44mm case, the Defy El Primero 21 takes design cues from the original El Primero. It comes in three versions, two in titanium and one in ceramised aluminium. For the aluminium version, the dial is open-worked with two registers and chronograph power reserve while the titanium versions see either an open or closed dial option.

Zenith Defy El Primero 21 in brushed titanium
Zenith Defy El Primero 21 in brushed titanium

Well-balanced, aesthetically pleasing, and technically out-of-this world, the Defy El Primero 21 just about confirms Zenith’s position as one of the most innovative watch companies in the modern age.

 Case

44mm brushed titanium or ceramicised aluminium

 Dial

Silver toned, or open worked with coloured counters

 Movement

Automatic El Primero 9004, COSC-certified

 Strap 

Black rubber with alligator coating and titanium buckle

 Functions

Hours, minutes, seconds, 1/100th second chronograph

 Price

From RM47, 900

Get the latest watch reviews and comparisons straight to your inbox!

Sim Wie Boon

Sim Wie Boon loves classy dress watches from timeless Swiss and Japanese marques. Wrist affections aside, he finds comfort in quiet rainy evenings with a hot cup of coffee and a stable internet connection.