Zenith has been showing a lot of love for its DEFY family over the last month or so. We’ve seen some colorful new additions, all designed to show off a different side of the advanced chronograph’s character. Now the Swiss brand has released a new iteration of the DEFY’s identity. Today we welcome the Zenith DEFY Extreme to the family!

Zenith likes to be creative with the DEFY collection; just look at the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone or the DEFY 21 Ultrablue. The Extreme name does give a pretty good indication of what the new watches entail. I saw the name before I saw the photos, and I immediately thought it would be a rugged upgrade. I was correct! Think of the robust armor upgrade of the Royal Oak Chronograph to the Royal Oak Offshore Chronograph, and you wouldn’t be too far off. A futuristic, sport ruggedness that maintains the DEFY’s modern styling while supercharging it.

Zenith Defy Extreme

Introducing the Zenith DEFY Extreme Series

The lightweight titanium case size received a minor bump in size, growing by 1mm to 45mm. According to Zenith, the sharp case is faceted and carved like a boulder in the storm. This is because they wanted to make the DEFY design more futuristic and assertive. If you’re also numb to the hyper marketing spiel we have to put up with year after year, then think of it this way: The standard DEFY case went to the gym, pumped some iron, and loaded up on protein. This marketing spiel does nothing for me and just dilutes the hard work the designers have put in to make this a cool-looking watch.

…it succeeds in its mission.

Despite the apparent heft and gains, the titanium will definitely offset some of this on the wrist. I can say how it wears as I’ve not yet had a chance to go hands-on with one, but I imagine that it’ll command some presence. That’s OK; this is not meant to be a subtle watch. The Zenith DEFY range does not want to be subtle. It’s clearly meant to be quite the opposite. At 15.4mm thick, combined with the 45mm case, blocky chronograph pushers, and slick, modern color options, it succeeds in its mission.

Zenith Defy Extreme

Which flavour of Extreme?

The DEFY Extreme comes in three ‘flavors’ if you will: micro-blasted titanium with black accents, micro-blasted titanium, and polished rose-gold with matching rose-gold accents or a mix of brushed, polished, and micro-blasted titanium with blue accents. The micro-blasted titanium gives the appearance of a dark grey matte finish, almost black — one we’ve seen Zenith utilize before on the Chronomaster revival series. I really like it. It makes an excellent alternative to DLC or PVD for those who prefer their watches on the darker side. Zenith also uses the new DEFY Extreme to introduce its new quick-change strap system. As a result, each DEFY Extreme comes on a matching titanium bracelet and an additional rubber strap and velcro strap.

Zenith Defy Extreme

The DEFY El Primero 21

As one could safely assume, the EL Primero 9004 keeps things ticking along inside. This twin-escapement movement allows users to measure and display elapsed times on the chronograph function with an accuracy of up to 1/100th of a second. When in operation, the central chronograph seconds hand loops around the dial once every second. It’s unique and even more remarkable when you see it in person. I remember being fascinated by it when I saw it in hand for the first time. Is it very slightly gimmicky? I guess so, but that doesn’t make its technical capabilities any less impressive.

There’s definitely a market for ultra-modern and rugged sports watches…

I’ll be honest, I kinda thought that the DEFY 21 was rugged enough, so I totally wasn’t expecting this release at all. That said, it works. As I previously mentioned, the evolution from the standard DEFY 21 silhouette to the Extreme was akin to the Royal Oak’s upgrade to the Offshore. There’s definitely a market for ultra-modern and rugged sports watches, so the Extreme’s introduction can only help diversify the DEFY further.

Read more about the DEFY Extreme series on Zenith’s website.

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Watch specifications

DEFY Extreme
97.9100.9004/02.I001 (micro-blasted titanium with black accents) 95.9100.9004/01.I001 (mix of brushed, polished, and micro-blasted titanium with blue accents) 87.9100.9004/03.I001 (micro-blasted titanium, and polished rose-gold with matching rose-gold accents)
Tinted sapphire with three different-coloured counters
Case Material
Case Dimensions
45mm x 15.4mm
Case Back
El Primero 9004 automatic
Water Resistance
20 ATM (200m)
Titanium bracelet with finish matching the case. Additional rubber strap and velcro strap also included.
Hours and minutes in the centre. Small seconds at 9 o'clock. 1/100th of a second Chronograph:Central chronograph hand that makes one turn each second, 30-minute counter at 3 o'clock, 60-second counter at 6 o'clock, Chronograph power-reserve indication at 12 o'clock.
97.9100.9004/02.I001 & 95.9100.9004/01.I001 = €17,600 87.9100.9004/03.I001 = €21,600