Zenith Defy Extreme Mirror High-Speed Polish
The monumental El Primero 9004 movement is back in business, this time in a case that equals its razzle-dazzle
Zenith defies expectations once again with the extremely reflective Defy Extreme Mirror, which is another iteration of the brand’s ultra-high frequency chronograph. Watch enthusiasts and chronograph collectors will certainly recognise this as another spin on the dual-escapement dual-mainspring 1/100th of a second chronograph, which is now the only such chronograph in series production. In its debut guise as the El Primero 21 in 2017, the watch introduced the calibre 9004, which is right at the heart of this horological gem. We will return to the movement momentarily but form must take precedence here because, well, just look at it.
Highly polished tool watches are nothing new but the Zenith Defy Extreme Mirror takes reflective surfaces to a new level, if the pictures are anything to go by (we will be shooting this watch soon so look to the coming issue of WOW Singapore for our thoughts on the watch in the metal – Ed). Zenith calls the Extreme Mirror the “ultimate, ultramodern camouflage watch” and we can only think that this means that the watch will have a sort of chrome-like finish, despite being entirely cased in stainless steel. Think perhaps of the iconic sheen of certain memorable contemporary watches from the likes of Chanel and Rado for some context, although both these brands were using a sort of ceramic to create the effect.
Itself no stranger to material experiments, Zenith instead opts for uniformity in this model, with everything from crown and chrono pushers to case middle and bezel in the same steel. As you can see, this steel has apparently been polished so thoroughly as to challenge the eye. For the ultimate experience, the bracelet looks promising but because this is Zenith, there are options. The Extreme Mirror has the usual interchangeable strap system and comes with two extra straps: rubber with folding buckle and Velcro.
The potential brilliance of the Extreme Mirror is precisely why Zenith is touting camouflage credentials here, which has us thinking that this watch might be the polar opposite of the stealth all-black watch (pioneered by Hublot), while essentially having the same effect. The very brightness of the model might render it invisible, except in its timekeeping and chronograph functions. Given that the three-dimensional multi-level dial also sports some mirror effects, the openworked hands with SuperLuminova SLN C1, the markers and the chronograph tracks all appear to hover in a fetchingly ethereal fashion. The proposition here is that this will keep things nice and legible.
Now for those of you who do not recall, here is the tl;dr on the chronograph movement. It is effectively two watches in one, with one part of the movement (powered by a 5 Hz escapement) handling regular timekeeping, while another part handles the chronograph (powered by a 50 Hz escapement). Both parts have their own mainsprings as well, meaning any 1/100th of a second chronograph watch powered by the El Primero 9004 has two movements in one watch. There is no need for clutch systems here, consequently, and it is not really a modular system either. One significant consequence for owners here is remembering that the chronograph runs on its own train, and is actually manual-winding. This is why the chronograph, with its shorter power reserve, has its own power reserve indicator on the dial.
Finally, the Extreme Mirror bears the distinction of a new naming convention, with Zenith choosing to drop the ‘21’ from the name; it was called the Defy El Primero 21 in 2017, and was most recently available in the Defy 21 Chroma guise (the only version still in stock, according to the Zenith website). Unlike some previous iterations of the 1/100th of a second chronograph, the Extreme Mirror is not a limited edition. Furthermore, it is available online from Zenith and in Zenith boutiques, plus authorised retailers.
Movement: El Primero 9004 with dual escapement chronograph; 50-hour power reserve (time only); 50-minute power reserve (chronograph only)
Case: 45mm in mirror-polished steel; water-resistant to 200m
Strap: Polished steel bracelet with folding clasp, plus two additional – rubber and Velcro
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