INTRODUCING: Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon

The Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon in titanium with titanium bracelet.

A high-speed tourbillon for timekeeping and an even higher-speed tourbillon for the chronograph

Zenith is a legend in precision timekeeping and high-speed movements. Over the last five decades, it has consistently delivered fantastic watches with terrific value and incredible technical specs. Three years ago, it presented a limited-edition double tourbillon, one driving the 1/100th of a second chronograph and a second 5Hz tourbillon for timekeeping. The Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon was offered in 50 pieces in carbon and 10 in platinum with bridges, tourbillon carriages, and baseplates treated in blue.  

Now the watchmaker is releasing the watch in serial production, with two references under the name Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon. Housed in a 45mm case, the two versions are in titanium with a titanium bracelet and in carbon fibre with a matte rose gold 12-sided bezel and rubber strap.

The Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon in titanium with a titanium bracelet, and carbon fibre with a rose gold bezel and rubber strap.
The Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon in titanium with a titanium bracelet, and carbon fibre with a rose gold bezel and rubber strap.

The History of High-Speed Chronographs

High-speed chronograph wristwatches are not new to the industry. In fact, one watchmaker that actively pursued this complication was TAG Heuer, a sibling brand of Zenith in the LVMH Group. Back in 2011, it released the Carrera Mikrograph with a 1/100th of a second chronograph display. This was swiftly followed by the Carrera Mikrotimer Flying 1000, which upped the chronograph’s performance by 10 times.   

The following year, TAG Heuer released the Carrera Mikrotourbillon S, with a double tourbillon and twin barrels that drove the timekeeping and chronograph gear trains independently. While TAG Heuer did not continue to pursue this, Zenith picked up the reins and used the technology for its Calibre 9020 that powers the new Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon.

The Zenith Calibre 9020 features two tourbillons, with the tourbillon at 10 o'clock for the chronograph and the tourbillon at 8 o'clock for timekeeping.
The Zenith Calibre 9020 features two tourbillons, with the tourbillon at 10 o'clock for the chronograph and the tourbillon at 8 o'clock for timekeeping.

The Challenge of a High-Speed Chronograph

There are two major difficulties in operating a high-speed chronograph. The first is power, since having a regulator run at 360,000vph requires a lot of energy. That is why the Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon’s power reserve for the chronograph only runs for 50 minutes at a go. It also means that the movement has less space for the timekeeping mainspring. The timekeeper has a 50-hour power reserve for the watch.   

The second is wear and tear of the fast-moving components of the chronograph regulator. The Zenith team had the last three years to test Calibre 9020’s performance, and we have not heard of any issues with the chronograph regulator yet.

A close up view of the display of the Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon.
A close-up view of the display of the Zenith Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon.

The New Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon

The new models bear a close similarity to the original Defy El Primero Double Tourbillon. Open dials with applied indexes and counters with tinted transparent sapphire elements reveal parts of the movement. A chronograph seconds track, reading 1/100th of a second, is represented on the inner bezel, with a second inner minute track running partially around the dial, cut off by the two tourbillon bridges.   

Instead of a blue treatment on the bridges, the Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon has a black PVD coating on the brushed surfaces, with gold accents around the edges to emphasise their angular forms. Gold accents are also seen on the tinted sapphire and around the counters. The accents remind one of the Lamborghini Huracán from 2020.

The carbon fibre and rose gold model of the Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon, with black and gold accents that are striking.
The carbon fibre and rose gold model of the Defy Extreme Double Tourbillon has striking gold accents.

On the back of the movement, the oscillating rotor is also skeletonised and black PVD-treated, with the Zenith star emblem as part of its design. It rests on bridges that share the same gold accents as the tourbillon bridges. The TimeLab certification of the watch is indicated on the rotor. The mainplate is sandblasted in a light grey coating that contrasts against the black PVD components.   

The watch is priced at S$101,800 for the titanium model and S$116,500 for the carbon fibre model with rose gold bezel. Although they are serially produced, the complexity of these watches means they will be limited in production.  

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Editor

Darren has been writing about, and admiring the craft of watchmaking for over a dozen years. He considers himself lucky to live in a golden age of horology, and firmly believes that the most difficult watches to design are the simplest and the most intriguing to discover.


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