The natural affinity of cars and chronographs is a relationship that has for some time been abused with incalculable sponsorships including watch brands and fast cars/racing occasions. Zenith and the famous British manufacturer Land Rover snared in 2016 and from that point forward a variety of watches have marked this alliance: the rough yet understated El Primero Range Rover model with tactful Range Rover branding of 2016, continued in 2017 with this Range Rover Velar Special Edition and a skeletonised edition in 2018, the Zenith Defy Classic Range Rover . For 2020, Zenith chose to dedicate a watch to the new Land Rover Defender, an entirely overhauled upmarket SUV. The model selected for this task comes from the El Primero Defy 21 family, famous for its 1/100th of a second chronograph development and twin escapements. How about we take a more critical glance at the new stealth-clad Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover, a restricted edition of 250 watches.
Defying and Defending, or how two brands upgraded a symbol for the new era
1969 saw the launch of Zenith’s high-accuracy automatic chronograph development , initiated as the El Primero. Beating at 5Hz, the El Primero development has become something of a celebrity all through its fifty continuous years of life. In 2017, Zenith chose it had to increase the cachet of the El Primero and create another development in accordance with 21st-century mechanical expectations. The answer was the Defy El Primero 21 with its fast central chronograph hand racing around the dial once each second account elapsed occasions with 1/100th of a second accuracy. Outfitted with not one, but rather two separate escapements, one for the watch beating at the classic speed of the El Primero (5Hz) and the other for the chronograph beating at 50Hz, the Defy El Primero 21 was first declined in a more classic shut dial variant and from that point forward has appeared in various skeletonised renditions, including this personalized model for DJ Carl Cox .
Unveiled in 2019 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, the new Land Rover Defender replaces the famous Land Rover Defender (brought into the world in 1948 and axed in 2016) and its distinguished 70-year, 4×4 off-road career. Sparking controversy among some for abandoning its military/utilitarian roots and taking on board extravagance innovative thingamabobs and pampered styling, the new Defender is more in accordance with the upmarket Range Rover and caters to urbanites with a taste for the occasional adventure.
In a way, both the Defy El Primero 21 and the new Land Rover Defender are tidied up forms of legends offering extraordinary performance capacities however probably rarely utilized for their expected reason. How often do you need to time something to 1/100th of a second? How often are you really going to uncover your EUR 90,000 Defender to abandon sands or Alpin muds? In any case, there is always that reassuring feeling that simply in case you end up in a blizzard in Siberia or are asked to time an Olympic occasion, you have all the treats ready and could theoretically face any situation/environment.
Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover
Emulating the matte metallic paint of the new Land Rover Defender, the 44mm x 14.50mm case, caseback, bezel, pushers and crown are all made from titanium and miniature blasted to achieve a matte, uniform, non-intelligent surface. A dash of orange on the crown gives a welcome piece of contrast to the monochromatic grey.
Handling the watch is extremely pleasurable, it is lightweight and the matte gray surfaces make the watch look significantly smaller than its 44mm diameter would propose. The architecture of the case retains its monobloc base, a raised round bezel and integrated hauls. Water-resistant to profundities of 100m yet extremely lightweight, the case combines the tough yet comfortable way of thinking of the Land Rover Defender.
As contradicted to the occupied openworked dials of the Defy 21 family, the shut dial of this model immediately improves neatness and is a far better answer for a watch of these high velocity characteristics. The skeletonised models may be spectacular to take a gander at, however they are fiendishly hard to read. Another inquisitive (yet enjoyable) detail is that there is no Land Rover branding on the dial.
With the presence of the super-fast central chronograph hand, Zenith had to alter the dial display. Dissimilar to the original El Primero chronograph, the El Primero Defy 21 family substitutes the tachymeter for a 1/100th of a second counter, and instead of the 12h counter at 6 o’clock has a 60-second elapsed time counter. Another distinction from past Defy 21 models is the reshaped power save indicator. Once in the past an arched-shaped indicator just below 12 o’clock, the upgraded one is linear with white and orange markings. Orange is also used to feature the chronograph indicators and contrasts well with the monochrome gray while the markers and engravings are white. The Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover comes with an integrated matching gray elastic strap with an emblazoned tiled pattern in its middle and a second gray elastic/fabric strap with orange sewing, both attached to the wrist with a titanium twofold collapsing clasp.
Accelerating from 5Hz to 50Hz
Tucked under a five-spoked rotor is Zenith’s great automatic twin escapement motor, caliber El Primero 9004. As you can imagine, a chronograph with a 50Hz recurrence is a force guzzler. To avoid draining the force hold by accelerating the chronograph, the Defy El Primero 21 is based on a dual-balance architecture: one of the escapements beating at 5Hz/36,000vph (much the same as the original 1969 El Primero) is dedicated to keeping the hours, minutes and seconds in a state of harmony while the second escapement, beating at 50Hz/360,000vph, is given exclusively to the chronograph. Each balance has its own transmission and escapement framework, and there is no coupling grasp. This means that two barrels are necessary and the crown can be gone clockwise to charge the chronograph and counterclockwise to charge the watch. For a top to bottom explanation of the development, please counsel Brice’s article, complete with video, here .
As referenced, there is no Land Rover branding on the dial. Instead, the five-spoked rotor is intended to bring out the alloy wheels of the Land Rover Defender and the word Land Rover is featured on one of the spokes and on the lower part of the caseback.
The uniform matte gray case, dial and strap create an extremely close stealth state of mind. A watch with contemporary 21st-century looks and mechanical capacities, the matte sandblasted titanium surfaces give the watch a cool, technical feel. Sufficiently cautious to avoid radar recognition, the lines of the bodywork are clean, and the overall impact is one of elegant minimalism. Like the ergonomic seats inside the Land Rover Defender, the titanium case ends up being exceptionally comfortable on the wrist. Another positive aspect of this shut dial watch over the skeletonised adaptations is that you can actually read the time, the elapsed occasions and appreciate the rapid rotations of the chronograph hand.
Availability and price
The Zenith Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover (ref. 97.9000.9004/01.R787) is a restricted edition of 250 pieces and retails for EUR 13,700. More information at zenith-watches.com .