Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone: High Frequency Sync Meets Kinetic Art (Updated With Live Photos) | Viewing time


Zenith launched some of its bolder colourways on special editions of its ultra-high frequency Defy 21 chronograph (as evidenced by last year’s Ultraviolet and Pink editions and the recently unveiled Urban Jungle). For perhaps the most vibrant performance to date, the manufacturing has teamed up with Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone to create a timepiece he describes as “a piece of wearable kinetic art”. Here is a closer look at the Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone.

The new Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone (above) reflects the multicolored “kinetic art” of its namesake (below).

Zenith began its collaboration with Felipe Pantone in 2020, when the company offered the facade of its main building in Locle, Switzerland, as a canvas for contemporary artists to showcase their work. In Pantone’s case, this work revolves around the so-called “visible spectrum concept,” which uses the frequencies of light and refracted colors to inspire a rainbow of gradient color variations. Hence the choice of the Defy 21 model – the highest frequency chronograph wristwatch in production – as the stage for a radically different timepiece which, as Zenith puts it, “all about frequencies – visually and mechanically”.

Zenith has developed entirely new techniques to achieve the rainbow effects of the watch.

To execute Pantone’s vision for the Defy 21 watch that bears his name and style, Zenith had to develop new techniques never before used in watchmaking – such as the principle of “interference colors” applied to the movement’s multicolored bridges. , whose coating reflects a gradient of rainbow-toned metal. Months of testing by specialists were needed to find the appropriate solution to achieve this rainbow effect; the result is an innovative three-dimensional PVD with silicon particles as a surface treatment to produce a perfectly transitional color spectrum. Although the process has been standardized, each piece will take on slightly different colors, essentially becoming a unique work of art.

The three-dimensional PVD coating adorns the hands, markers and bridges.

The distorted lightning bolt shapes of the hour and minute hands are also derived from Pantone’s work, and their gradient rainbow effect is applied in the same advanced process as the movement’s bridges. Succeeding in creating both the unusual shape of the hands and their perfectly scalable colored PVD coating proved to be one of the most difficult challenges Zenith engineers faced in creating this highly unusual watch, and one of the many early watchmakers. Another is the moiré optical effect of the alternation of black and white bands on the upper bridges and parts of the dial, a recurring theme in the paintings and sculptures of Felipe Pantone. Thanks to fine laser engraving and lacquering techniques, so precise that they give an optical illusion of fluid movement in the contrast of the stripes, Zenith has been able to miniaturize this motif. Along with the painstakingly created hands, the open dial features a mix of gradient colors and blocks on its markers and counters.

Rainbow colored bridges are visible behind the black coated rotor.

The black ceramic tonneau case of the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone is enhanced with a grid pattern engraved on the bezel, and “FP # 1” engraved on the four corners of the case, denoting “Felipe Pantone El Primero.” “The” El Primero “, of course, refers to the movement, El Primero Caliber 9004, whose watchmaking claim to fame is its ability to record times to 1/100 of a second, made possible by the incorporation of two escapements – one for the main movement at 36,000 vibrations per hour, the other for the integrated chronograph at 360,000 vibrations per hour. The grid pattern of the bezel is found on the black textured rubber strap of the watch with a black DLC clasp at double unfolding, while a second rubber strap offers another touch of art.The latter has a central insert that goes from dark gray to a flash of all the colors of the spectrum depending on the light angle, the result of the iridescence caused by the surface of the material and the way it captures light.

The optical effect on the bridges is obtained by laser engraving and lacquering.

True to its artistic pedigree, the Zenith Defy 21 Felipe Pantone comes in a presentation box that mimics a hardcover book, complete with a miniaturized painting created exclusively by the artist featured on its cover, along with a signed certificate. Limited to 100 pieces, and available in Zenith boutiques and through the brand’s online store, the watch is priced at $ 19,900 in the United States.

The bezel grid continues on the rubber strap.

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