ZENITH A Return To Form: Zenith Revives The Very First Defy Model From 1969

ZENITH A Return To Form: Zenith Revives The Very First Defy Model From 1969

Following the highly acclaimed and sought-after reproductions of historical El Primero models from the 1960s and 1970s, the Zenith Manufacture has turned its attention to another monumental piece from 1969: Introducing the DEFY Revival A3642, a modern reinterpretation of the earliest DEFY model.

While 1969 will forever be marked as a milestone year for Zenith and watchmaking at large with the unveiling of the El Primero calibre, another surprise from the Manufacture also made its debut that year: the DEFY collection. Taking a firm stance against the wave of quartz watches that was threatening to decimate traditional Swiss watchmaking, Zenith proved that mechanical movements were here to stay by creating a timepiece with a singularly edgy design and robustness that mass-produced electronic watches of the time simply could not rival.

The vessel for this audacious mindset was the DEFY A3642, opening new avenues of design and performance for the Manufacture to explore. The A3642 was fittingly nicknamed the coffre-fort in French, which translates to “bank vault” or “safe-deposit box”. It’s bold, octagonal case paired with a fourteen-sided bezel is all about exhibiting audacity and ruggedness through sharply defined lines and facets with different finishes; something that has been distilled into the modern Zenith DEFY collection. With its steel “ladder” bracelet designed and manufactured by the famed Gay Frères company, the original DEFY was certainly ahead of the curve when it comes to sporty steel bracelet watches with highly geometric designs. With a water-resistance of 30ATM (300 metres) ensured by a screw-down crown, the DEFY A3642 and its modern Revival reincarnation are assuredly all-terrain and all-occasions watches.

Reproduced in stunningly accurate detail using the original production plans from 1969, the DEFY Revival A3642 brings back all the details and singular design elements that made the original so outstanding in its era and how it established the codes that continues to inspire modern DEFY references. Its warm grey dial with a striking gradient effect that darkens towards the edges was among the first of its kind during its introduction in 1969. The unusual applied square hour markers feature horizontal grooves that convey a sense of perpetual motion. The wide sword-shaped hands are generously filled with SuperLumiNova in a similar tone to Tritium found in the original, paired with a paddle-shaped seconds hand that is a prominent feature in numerous Zenith watches of the same era. In fact, the only cosmetic differences between the Revival and its progenitor are the sapphire crystal, the display case back and the type of luminescent pigments.

The other main difference beats away inside. Instead of the original’s solid case back emblazoned with a four-pointed star that became one of the brand’s logos and recurring design element for years to come, the DEFY Revival A3642 features a sapphire display back showing the automatic Elite 670 manufacture movement, operating at a frequency of 4 Hz (28’800 VpH) and delivering a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound.