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Introducing The Zenith Defy Classic Black Ceramic

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Today we have one of our first previews of what Zenith will formally unveil in Geneva next month. It's the latest in the company's Defy range, a collection whose name evokes a conflict with overtly traditional aspects of watch design. For a brand that to many is largely defined by a chronograph movement that came out in the late 1960s, Defy might seem like Zenith's chance to get out from under the shadow of its own estimable legacy, but this actual case design is in fact heavily influenced by the original Zenith Defy, which came out back in the 1970s. The watch looks like it might be pretty complicated at first glance, but it's actually a fairly simple automatic openworked three-hander with date. The openworked dial seems unusual in that it adds to the symmetry of the design – check out the arms radiating from the center of the dial. Openworked and skeletonized dials tend to have  a much more off-balance look to them. 

What's really new about this watch, though, is that it features a ceramic case, the first for Zenith's Defy Collection, which cements a stealth look that's echoed in the dial and in the textured rubber strap. It's a sleek looking, and I'd imagine, wearing, watch. Thanks to the in-house Elite automatic movement inside (which measures just 3.88mm from top to bottom) the watch's overall height is just 10.75mm, despite its see-through back and what looks to be a fairly large step for the bezel. While the Elite movement has been around for decades, this version has been upgraded with a silicon pallet lever and escape wheel in its escapement. 

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Initial Thoughts
Even with its 1970s case design cues, this watch from Zenith's Defy collection is among most unapologetically forward-looking and modern. It's a modern, sporty watch with really stealth looks. I do wonder, though, if it might actually be more legible at night than in daytime. There looks to be more than ample lume on the hands and indexes, but in these photographs, the hands look like they might get lost against a dial that is at once monochromatic and busy. But if you're in the market for a fully blacked out watch, I'm guessing that legibility at a glance is not going to be a major sticking point

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The Basics
Brand: Zenith
Model: Defy Classic Black Ceramic
Reference Number: 69.9000.670/78.R782

Diameter: 41mm
Thickness: 10.75mm
Case Material: Ceramic
Dial Color: Openworked black and grey
Indexes: Ruthenium-plated, faceted, and coated with Super-LumiNova SLC C1
Lume: Yes, on hands and indexes
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Black rubber strap with black DLC folding buckle

The Movement
Caliber: Elite 670 SK Automatic 
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, date
Diameter: 25.6mm
Thickness: 3.88mm
Power Reserve: 48 hours
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 4 Hz (28,800 vph)
Jewels: 27

Pricing & Availability
Price: $7,500
Availability: March/April 2019

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