Zenith Defy Xtreme Open El Primero Tourbillon Review
A combination of PBE Titanium and kevlar inserts, the Zenith Defy Xtreme is the most controversial watch of the 2000’s – as like with Marmite, people either loathe it or hate it.
46.6 ml in diameter, 20 ml thick, with screw down crown, screw down chronograph pushers, crown guards, full bracelet, rated to 1000 meters with a helium release valve and uni-directional dive vessel, the Zenith Defy Xtreme launched with a bang early 2000’s, flamed out, then slowly came back as a sort of iconic period piece, with the prices of these now starting to harden and an uptick in forum interest, the train is now starting to leave the station.
Made of titanium, with a beautifully supple clasp and bracelet, the Defy Xtreme’s sense of style is in stark contrast to its reputation as a watchmaker that makes small anachronistic styles, but ergonomically and with a lot of money ploughed into the business in the years leading up to the launch of the Xtreme Open El Primero Tourbillon, this really bears out in the design of this watch.
In terms of the quality, the fit, the finish, it leaves nothing to be desired as the Zenith is still one of the great manufacturers in watch making, and regardless of what you may have thought of the look of this watch at the time, these are the same master watchmakers, finishers and assemblers who worked on this watch that are now working on the Georges Favre-Jacot Fuse
The sea monster that scared Zenith fans out of the water in mid 2000’s, there’s a staggering amount of craftsmanship in this watch that is after all an El Primero, with that famed high beat: 5 hertz, 36’000 vibrations per hour, automatic winding, integrated chronograph – historically unveiled in 1969, it was the first of its kind.
Although the crystal is over 4 ml thick, it’s still an incredibly thick sapphire with an interior cyclops eye for viewing the date and you can still hear that high rate heartbeat inside the case when you hold it up to the ear so you still get that traditional El Primero novelty beat that so many Zenith fans have grown to love.
With tremendous attention to detail, there are multiple planes on the watch face leading down from the hands where there are the flared out sub registers on the side, a 60 minute calibrated ring running round the outside, and one plane below with a patterned plate face and beneath that a carbon fibred disk with the company marquee, the Zenith star and the sub register that indicates the hours.
To quote an old Zenith marketing slogan, the “quality goes in before the Zenith logo goes on”.
This classic El Primero – contained within something resembling a bank vault is water resistant to 1000 meters, contains a helium release valve should you be inclined to use a diving bell and as a sports watch this is one of the toughest variants of any Defy ever made.
Rugged, fun, durable, with tremendous presence and hallmarks of quality from dial detailing to fit and finish, wrist comfort and tactile pleasure – like the 80’s Ferrari Testarossa, the Zenith Defy Xtreme Chronograph men’s luxury watch is an icon of an overblown, overwrought, ecstatic era and is destined to become a highly desirable period piece.