Zenith just announced a radical new version of the Defy Classic Skeleton! This new version of the Defy Classic uses a carbon material in the case and bracelet to create one of the lightest mechanical watches in the world.
The carbon case, while impressive, isn’t entirely novel for Zenith as they released the Defy 21 Carbon already, but what is novel here is the brand’s first carbon bracelet, making this one of the lightest watches on bracelet in the world. This new Zenith is just 65 grams. For comparison, the Grand Seiko Snowflake, an iconic all-titanium watch known for lightness, is 100 grams, or about 50% heavier.
Aesthetically, the new Defy Classic Carbon certainly takes on a tool watch demeanor, but even more so, a bit of industrial design with its semi-skeletonized dial showing off the movement underneath. My favorite design element is the slightly greenish lume used for the hands and markers, however, which give the watch just a bit of color. Another nice touch is the use of that color behind the date at 6:00. The carbon material almost gives the watch a Damascus steel look, increasing visual intrigue in the Genta-esque case. It’s sized reasonably, at least for such an aggressive design, at 41mm, consistent with other Defy Classic models.
Priced at $19,500, the Defy Classic Carbon represents a very significant step up over a steel model, which is much closer to $7,000. The Defy Classic Carbon, therefore, makes the most sense only for those who greatly prize lightness in a watch, or perhaps for diehard Zenith Defy fans more broadly. Alternatively, you could get the same watch but on a strap instead of a carbon composite bracelet for $11,600, almost $8,000 less, and that’s probably the logical choice for most people looking for an ultralight mechanical watch. Although these prices are substantial, it’s worth keeping in mind that the Defy Carbon’s most direct competitor, Omega’s Aqua Terra Ultra Light, costs $48,600 and is only 10 grams lighter (and that may simply be due to the fact that it’s on a strap instead of a bracelet).
Overall, I think fans of industrial design and super light watches will be very glad to have this new option, even if it is unlikely to ever become the mainstream hit that the entry-level Defy models have been. It’s a new watch in a not-so-crowded niche, and that’s always a good thing.