Style / World of Watches (WOW)

Reviewing Zenith’s Defy Skyline Tourbillon

The tourbillon comes to the Defy Skyline collection in an entirely new reference with a strong visual presence.

May 18, 2024 | By Ken Ke

You will be well within your rights to expect that this here ticker made its debut at the LVMH Watch Week in Miami and yet somehow, it was not. After the watchmakers got done celebrating the Lunar New Year, they seemingly gave the communications team the nod to push out the presser on the Defy Skyline Tourbillon. The watch has not yet been presented in the metal, although the WOW teams heading to Geneva are looking forward to resolving this during the big show. Given that this is the first tourbillon movement in the Skyline range, it is certainly newsworthy, even if it might be upstaged in Geneva…

To begin where enthusiasts will want to start, the automatic El Primero calibre 3630 is indeed new. Zenith typically includes tourbillons alongside the chronograph complication, just by virtue of the standard El Primero being an integrated chronograph. The Defy Skyline has been defined by its distinctive lack of a chronograph, yet with the high-beat 5Hz balance that is standard for the El Primero. Following this, the calibre 3630 is now one of the fastest-beat 60-second tourbillons available in series production. In a poetic touch, the manufacture lists the power reserve as 60 hours, approximately. The Defy Skyline Tourbillon is not a limited edition, although it is likely destined to be in short supply.

The watch itself is relatively hefty thanks to its 41mm case that is 12.2mm thick; it is likely to be relatively heavy as well, especially with a steel bracelet. The ceramic version is unlikely to be much lighter if experience with other models is any indication. The case itself retains the same technical and faceted structure, as does the bracelet (still fully interchangeable, with a second rubber strap included for both variants of this watch). For dial options, this latest Skyline introduces a new style, with a mosaic of laser-engraved four-pointer stars radiating outwards and thus expanding from the tourbillon aperture at 6 o’clock. This has the effect of a kind of guilloche, except of course that it is not. That star motif is also reflected in the tourbillon cage, which is in a matching shade of blue or black, as appropriate.

While the Defy Skyline Tourbillon is far from the most accessible watch from a major Swiss brand, Zenith probably realises it has a competitive piece here. To return to that high-beat point, this might be highly desirable for tourbillon enthusiasts (who might also be keener on a clean watch, sans other complications). A drawback here is that the aesthetics of this style of watch have been adopted by brands at every price point so Zenith will have to find a way to win the tough visibility battle.

MOVEMENT: Automatic El Primero 3630 with tourbillon; 60-hour power reserve (approximately)
CASE: 41mm in steel; water-resistant to 100m
STRAP: Stainless steel bracelet with additional rubber strap
PRICE: From SGD 82,100

This article first appeared on WOW’s Spring 2024 issue.

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