Vintage watches are shining brighter than ever right now, thanks to a recent surge in popularity among watch collectors. Alongside this surge for authentic vintage pieces comes a ravenous hunger for retro modern pieces and faithful reproductions of iconic models. Zenith has capitalized on this trend by reintroducing thoroughly modern interpretations of the famous DEFY collection in recent years. Now, the Swiss watchmaker is taking its vintage infatuation a step further by re-releasing the first-ever DEFY model from 1969 in a limited release revival.
Being born in the same year as the brand’s ground-breaking El Primero movement — among the first automatic integrated chronograph calibers — the original DEFY A3642 was almost overshadowed by the movement’s success, but has gained traction and appreciation for its influence in recent years. The original DEFY was an aptly named timepiece, standing stark among its competition thanks to its literally edgy, octagonal design. Nicknamed the “bank vault,” the DEFY’s eight-sided case sports a rugged aesthetic, which is wonderfully complemented by its 14-sided bezel and ladder-style bracelet, both of which were seen as audacious design choices for the watchmaker.
The Zenith DEFY Revival A3642 is a faithful reproduction of the Swiss icon that started it all. Featuring a gorgeous gradient brown dial, the DEFY Revival is a spitting image of its avant-garde predecessor. Its dial contrasts splendidly with the striking, square hour markers, whose horizontal grooves add some hypnotic visual contrast. The watch features sword-shaped hands that are filled with Super-LumiNova, as well as an era-accurate paddle-shaped seconds hand that also enhances readability. Returning are the same funky 37mm steel case and retro ladder bracelet, but the movement has been given a modern update via Zenith’s proprietary Elite 670 automatic caliber, which wearers can fully appreciate thanks to the exhibition case back.
While the original DEFY may not have gotten the credit it was due when it first debuted more than a half-century ago, its bold design language laid the foundation for many of Zenith’s iconic watches, so the fact that it is now getting the warm welcome it deserves is almost poetic. The Zenith DEFY Revival A3642 is limited to 250 pieces and retails for $7,000.