HANDS-ON: The defiant one – Zenith’s El Primero Defy 21 Carbon

In the early years of the 21st century, Zenith was a brand that looked to the past — honouring their iconic El Primero in its original guise, and taking flights of nostalgic fancy with its Pilot’s collection. All fine watches, but comfortable takes on familiar forms. In 2017, the brand abruptly changed direction, with a thoroughly modern iteration of an old name — Defy — taking centre stage.

Zenith El Primero Defy 21 Carbon

One of the pillars of this new Zenith vision was the El Primero 21 (a watch we looked at in some detail here), which took the iconic high-frequency chronograph that is the El Primero and rocketed it to the next level.

You see, the regular EP runs 5Hz, allowing 1/10th of a second accuracy. The chronograph on the El Primero 21 runs at a boggling 50Hz, meaning that the chrono hand makes a single revolution in a second, and offers 1/100th of a second accuracy. Of course this rate only applies to the chronograph operation; timekeeping runs at a more sedate and less power-hungry 5Hz, which is plenty accurate for day-to-day timekeeping.

Zenith El Primero Defy 21 Carbon

This year we were treated to a new take on the Defy: the 44mm case is offered here in carbon, that lightweight, high-tech material that looks like it’s come straight off a lunar landing module. And it’s not just the case that’s carbon — the crown and pushers are too. The open-worked dial plays into this future sports aesthetic, resulting in a watch that offers a powerful one-two combo of technical chops and aggressive styling.

Looks like the future is now for Zenith.

Zenith El Primero Defy 21 Carbon

Zenith El Primero Defy 21 Carbon price

Zenith’s El Primero Defy 21 Carbon, $26,200

Made in partnership with Zenith. However, the opinions expressed in this article are our own in accordance with our Editorial Policy.


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