Our friends from down under have today launched a new collaboration with Zenith. The Aussies announced the collaboration over the weekend with a slickly produced teaser video. Said video indicated we were looking at something from the Defy range, but the finer details were well obscured. Today, we get to see the Time+Tide × Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton Night Surfer in all its glory!

It didn’t take a super sleuth to work out that we were getting a new Defy model. The case was quite evident in the teaser video, but that was just enough to pique our interest and keeping us guessing until the full reveal today.


Enter the Night Surfer

Seeing the fully lit images gave me a welcome surprise. The Time+Tide × Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton Night Surfer has its base in the Skeletonised Defy model, which has always been my favorite of the Defy Classic range. It’s tough to do the whole “skeleton thing” well without the resulting watch looking a bit tacky. Still, I always felt Zenith did a fine job with the Defy Skeleton. At its core, this model is a standard Defy Skeleton with a few tweaks and design choices.

Andrew McUtchen, the founder of Time+Tide, said of the project: “It’s no secret that the Defy Classic Skeleton is an underrated model on the market. With the Night Surfer, we have sought to highlight its many qualities. The watch’s high polished, gradient, luminous, layered, and matte elements give the Defy Classic Skeleton a new way to shine. The results speak for themselves and are a credit to the creative and production team at Zenith.”

A harmonious collaboration

It’s always a tricky thing to work on a limited edition watch with a brand. Contrary to popular belief, these projects are always very much two-way. The resulting watch has to fit within the watch brand’s pre-existing design DNA and be different enough from its existing offerings to offer customers something new. I think Time+Tide has done a great job here balancing those core tenets. The resulting watch is rather attractive while exuding both their and Zenith’s personalities equally.

The Time+Tide × Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton Night Surfer features a gorgeous titanium case, but not as we’re used to from the standard range. Zenith has microblasted the titanium case and bracelet in a first for the Defy Classic. This gives it a darker finish than we’re perhaps used to seeing on that particular metal. Ever since I first saw this surface treatment on Zenith’s Chronomaster Revival Shadow, I loved it. I’m rather excited to see it ported over to the Defy Skeleton for the first time, but to get a matching microblasted titanium bracelet too? That’s just awesome.

The Night Surfer makes a splash

Time+Tide has worked closely with Zenith to introduce several “firsts” on the Night Surfer. Aside from the debut of the microblasted titanium case and bracelet on the Defy Classic Skeleton, the Night Surfer is also the first time we see Zenith using a gradient dial for this model. Time + Tide is starting to make this rich, vivid blue a bit of signature color on its collaborations (See the Time+Tide x Doxa SUB600). Rather than a solid color, this time Zenith treats us to a subtle darkening from the bottom of the dial leading up to a darker midnight hue at the top of the dial.

We also see two more firsts from Zenith in the way it uses lume on the dial of the Night Surfer. Firstly, Zenith has used solid Super-LumiNova for its star logo, paying homage to the inspiration for the watch’s “Night Surfer” moniker. It’s a nod to the starry night sky that greets surfers who dare to stay out after sunset. Surfing is a national pastime in Australia, one of the world’s premier surfing destinations. It’s enjoyed by millions of Australians and is a vital aspect of the coastal lifestyle in many regions.

Lighting up the night sky

Finally, the Night Surfer follows in the footsteps of the Defy Classic Skeleton Carbon with a luminous screen behind the date window, allowing much-improved legibility of the skeletonized date wheel at night. I was always slightly surprised that Zenith hadn’t done this when it first introduced the Defy Classic Skeleton, so it’s nice to see it used again, albeit on a limited edition model. A lumed backdrop is a perfect complement to a skeletonized date wheel, and its inclusion here just makes so much sense. It’s a subtle-yet-clever design choice from the Time+Tide team.

All the other specs of the Defy Classic Skeleton remain true to form. The case measures 41mm, with an ample 100 meters of water resistance, and weighs just 95 grams on the wrist. The watch measures 45mm lug-to-lug and sits 11.4mm tall. A stunning exhibition case back offers a view of the Zenith Elite 670SK caliber. Only 100 pieces of the  Time+Tide × Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton Night Surfer are being made. You can find 50 pieces allocated to Time+Tide and 50 pieces available at Zenith’s boutiques worldwide.

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