Nearly one year ago at the annual LVMH Watch Week, Zenith launched the Defy Skyline collection. At this year’s event, held in Singapore for the first time, the Swiss watchmaker is unveiling a new addition to the family, the Defy Skyline Skeleton. The novelty features an open dial with an open-worked El Primero automatic movement. This high-frequency 5Hz skeleton watch comes in a 41mm case with a blue or black dial.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

The Defy Skyline family

We were able to get a sneak peek of the blue Defy Skyline Skeleton fitted with an integrated steel bracelet to share with you. The model is an extension of the standard Defy Skyline model, which Thomas reviewed here last year. It has exactly the same octagonal case and dodecagonal faceted bezel, which trace back to Zenith’s Defy A3642 from 1969 for their angular shapes. You can certainly see the family likeness from Daan’s article here. All the case specs of the Defy Skyline remain true to form, measuring 47mm from lug to lug and 12.5mm thick with a screw-down crown fitted to provide water resistance to 100 meters. The finishing of the case is beautiful with prominent satin brushing and contrasting polished facets around the bezel.

The El Primero

At its core, the Defy Skyline Skeleton houses the 3620 SK, a similar El Primero caliber in a skeletonized execution. It has a hacking-seconds mechanism for precise time setting and a bidirectional rotor with a full-screen Zenith-star motif to help deliver a power reserve of 60 hours. It boasts a silicon escape wheel and lever to minimize friction and therefore more robust and reliable performance.

The 3620 SK

Visible from both the front and the case back through sapphire crystals, the El Primero 3620 SK runs at a dizzying rate of 36,000 beats per hour (5Hz), which lends itself to the headline feature, 1/10th-of-a-second precision. Channeling this El Primero signature trait into a non-chronograph model, Zenith repurposes it to power a 1/10th-of-a-second indicator, now positioned at 6 o’clock rather than 9 o’clock. Circling a scale with 100 individual markings, the hand completes a full rotation every 10 seconds. Spinning six times faster than a standard small seconds hand, it provides a unique visual experience.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Visual coherence

As for the rest of the dial, it’s almost as if Zenith was reading Thomas’s review and the post comments about the aesthetical balance. The Defy Skyline Skeleton has taken all that on board with a dial layout that is suitably easy on the eye. Gone is the date function, and the dial has a symmetrical, star-shaped open structure, which nods to Zenith’s “double Z” logo of the ‘60s. It also creates immense visual depth in the movement. The chapter ring’s applied indexes together with the hour and minute hands are all broad and filled with Super-LumiNova C1 to enhance legibility.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Effortless strap changing

Following in the time-and-date model’s footsteps, the Defy Skyline Skeleton is engineered with a toolless quick-release mechanism that makes swapping straps as easy as pushing the buttons between the lugs. The seamlessly integrated H-link steel bracelet is meticulously constructed with a brushed finish and polished chamfered edges. According to Zenith, the watch also comes with a blue rubber strap, complete with a starry-sky pattern and a folding clasp.

Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton

Final thoughts

The Defy Skyline Skeleton is Zenith’s most elaborate skeleton watch to date. It has built on the prior success of the Defy Skeleton and gone even further with an architectural aesthetic. Although the 1/10th-of-a-second indicator may be a show of mechanical creativity, its usefulness is questionable in this day and age. That said, as far as skeleton watches go, this new Defy Skyline execution certainly oozes quality, high craftsmanship, and visual potency. The retail price for this model is CHF 10,900.

For more information, visit Zenith’s official website.

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