Whenever I hear the word Defy in a conversation about Zenith, there are a few things that pop up in my head – futuristic, record-breaking, disruptive…. And now with the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone, I’m thinking…. WILD…. As disrupters of the modern-day chronograph segment, with this new release, Zenith is offering its clientele something familiar, yet something different. Now you’re either gonna love it or hate it…
Zenith began its collaboration with the Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone, a global sensation in the world of contemporary art, in 2020. As an artist who grew up during the dawn of the digital revolution, when the physical world was being rendered into the nascent virtual dimension, Felipe Pantone took the opposite approach in his art, bringing design elements from the intangible digital realm into the real world. His work is all about letting go of all the academic training and pre-existing notions of art, in order to create freely and use modern and unconventional tools in realizing his vision. This mirrors Zenith’s own approach, where its rich history and traditional roots have served it to look onwards and build the future of watchmaking on its own terms. Themes evoked in Pantone’s work, which ranges from paintings to interactive kinetic objects and massive public installations are dynamism, transformation and digital revolution. Polarizing and never leaving observers indifferent, Felipe Pantone’s work is instantly recognizable and coveted by art-lovers and those with an eye for radical design.
The new DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone features a 44mm full black ceramic case, with grid patterns engraved on the bezel and the letters “FP#1” engraved on the four corners of the case, denoting “Felipe Pantone El Primero” . Both these elements really heighten the visual impact of the case. Like many Defy models, this watch too features an open-worked dial. Highlighted with a mix of gradient and block colours on the markers, bridges and counters – the dial steals the show here. This is the first watch to ever use an innovative kind of 3D PVD with silicon particles as a surface treatment on a movement to produce a spectrum of perfectly transitioning colours. While the process is standardized, each piece will reflect a slightly different colour, essentially becoming a unique work of art. The distorted looking hour and minute hands resemble lightning bolts and have been treated with a rainbow gradient of colours applied through the same process as the movement’s bridges, markers and counters.
The moiré optical effect produced by thin alternating white and black bands is a recurring theme in Felipe Pantone’s paintings and sculptures, which has been miniaturized and reproduced on the top bridges and portions of the dial of the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone, using fine laser-engraving and lacquering techniques so precise that they provide an optical illusion of fluidic movement in the contrast of the stripes.
Considering the “wild” aesthetics of this watch, the artist opted for a black textured rubber strap with a warped grid motif. But, if you wish to turn it up a notch, the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone is also available with a second rubber strap with a central insert that goes from dark grey to a flash of all the colours in the spectrum, depending on the angle of light. The colours are not actually embedded in the strap but are the result of iridescence caused by the surface of the material and how it reflects light.
Limited to 100 pieces, the Zenith DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone is powered by the El Primero 9004 Calibre. It comprises two separate escapements – one for timekeeping (beating at a frequency of 5Hz) and one for the chronograph (Beating at a frequency of 50Hz), allowing it to time events down to 1/100th of a second. The movement is chronometer certified by Time Lab, so you can rest assure it is reliable and steady.
Finally, the watch is presented in a box that mimics a hardcover book sporting a miniaturized painting that Felipe Pantone created exclusively for this special series, complete with a signed certificate. With the DEFY 21 Felipe Pantone, Zenith has clearly merged contemporary art with a high-precision instrument to produce a piece of kinetic, wearable art.