Sponsored content from Modern Luxury

Zenith’s unorthodox new collection, Defy Lab, lives up to both halves of its name. Its high-tech components leave the traditional watchmaker’s atelier far behind, with record-breaking materials conceived and created in scientific laboratories. In addition, an astounding technical breakthrough sweeps certain core watchmaking principles away entirely, starting from zero to create a defiant new foundation of horology.

ZENITH Defy Lab B ZENITH Defy Lab B Photo: Modern Luxury

Mechanical watches have operated on the same basic principle—with myriad tweaks, developments and flourishes, to be sure—since the 17th century, when Christiaan Huygens presented a clock with a coupled balance and hairspring. With the Defy Lab, Zenith upends the very foundation of mechanical horology, presenting an oscillator that operates according to brand-new rules.

luxury ZENITH Defy Lab B Mouvement (6)_preview ZENITH Defy Lab B Mouvement Photo: Modern Luxury

This new oscillator is cut from a single piece of monocrystalline silicon, replacing the thirty-odd components of a standard regulating organ. This technological advance simplifies the matchmaking process immensely; not only is the new component one-tenth the thickness of the original (0.5mm compared to 5mm), the manufacture can skip the entire process of laboriously assembling the various elements of the regulating organ and all that it entails (adjustment, testing, lubrication, etc.).

luxury ZENITH Defy Lab C Processus de fabrication ZENITH Defy Lab C Processus de fabrication Photo: Modern Luxury

Another advantage of this new oscillator is that it beats at a rate of 15Hz (handily eclipsing the 5Hz rate of the Zenith El Primero, itself revolutionary upon its release), meaning unparalleled precision. Despite this high frequency, the watch boasts a power reserve of 60 hours, and keeps its high precision for 95% of this time. It easily defeats the traditional enemies of the mechanical watch—excessive temperatures, gravity and magnetic fields—by simply being impervious to them.

ZENITH Defy Lab D Aeronith3_preview ZENITH Defy Lab D Aeronith Photo: Modern Luxury

The technological breakthrough at the Defy Lab’s core is matched by its 44mm case, crafted in Aeronith. The Defy Lab is the first watch to be housed in this ultra-light aluminum composite material, which resembles a solid metal foam. With a density of just 1.6kg/dm3, the material is 2.7 times lighter than titanium, and lighter even than carbon fiber, the industry’s current lightweight trend.

Marking the arrival of this game-changing watch, Zenith has created ten collector’s gift boxes to house the first ten Defy Lab watches, each of which is different from the others. All ten have already been pre-sold.

luxury ZENITH Defy Lab C Processus de fabrication ZENITH Defy Lab C Processus de fabrication Photo: Modern Luxury