Zenith just dropped its first-ever woman’s watch that was designed from the ground up to be a ladies’ collection and revamped its Elite collection with some new ladies’ models. CEO Julien Tornare says it’s all part of the company’s aim to “place women’s watches at the forefront of the brand’s creative endeavors.” The Defy collection has existed up until now as a men’s collection, but the Defy Midnight is smaller, with a 36 mm case compared to the men’s 41 mm cases, and the design is distinctly feminine.
“Defy has taken off and has become a huge growth engine for us—a very big success, so when we wanted to make a watch for the 21st-century woman, I wanted to go with Defy, clearly,” Tornare told Robb Report. “So we worked with it and I said, ‘How do we make something appealing, something that drives emotion on one side but also something concrete to match the lifestyle of the 21st-century woman?”
The answer: A watch that falls squarely into the category of classic day watch—a potentially boring segment to which Zenith adds a bit of pizzazz without overdoing it. There are plenty of options, including a diamond bezel option and several strap choices—it comes with three additional coloured satin and leather straps that can be interchanged without the need for one of those nail-breaking tools.
“I have to say that you have often four lives in one and you are much better than men at multi-tasking—my wife reminds me that often, but it’s true,” says Tornare. “Women deserve something which is basically made for them. The interchangeable strap is not new, other brands have done that before, but what it is new to set it on a bracelet and offer three interchangeable straps immediately in the set.”
Zenith opts for a closed case on the Defy Midnight, perhaps to keep the watch cleaner and more minimalist. The dial is gradient blue, grey or mother-of-pearl, and makes subtle use of Zenith’s star-motif logo, with a star on the counterweight of the seconds hand and with several tiny stars printed on the upper part of the dial. There are no numerals, only diamond markers, except at 3 o’clock, where the date window is placed. The bezel can be set with 44 diamonds totaling 1.48 carats. Another great feature is the Super-LumiNova coated hands, which is becoming a welcome feature on more ladies’ watches. Some of the stars on the dial are also printed with Super-LumiNova, a nice use of what is normally a functional treatment as a design element.
The 36 mm width is just the right size to stand out on a woman’s wrist without overtaking it and the watch has the potential to incorporate future variations and complications. The men’s Defy collection has contained the brand’s most advanced movements, including the new Oscillator caliber 9100 in the Defy Inventor and the high-frequency El Primero in the Zero G.
For now, the Defy Midnight contains an automatic movement, Zenith’s Elite 670 SK, a three-hand-date caliber that is also used in the men’s 41 mm Defy Classic Titanium and Ceramic models, which have mostly open dials and casebacks through which to view the skeletonised movement and its star-shaped rotor. “In watchmaking, there was always a thinking that women want or need quartz only and it was a bit of a segmentation that I think first of all is wrong, and second of all is really not on trend,” says Tornare. “I said, ‘We don’t want to do quartz for women, of course not. We will use our own movement.’ Why would I give women quartz and keep the mechanic movements for the men? I hate this kind of idea.” The movement is only 3.88 mm thick, so it makes sense it is being used in a ladies’ watch. It has a silicon escape wheel and lever and a 48-hour power reserve, just shy of the 50-hour power reserve of the El Primero. The Midnight Defy is priced between around £6,500 and £8,000.