Quick Take

Zenith resurrected the Defy collection back in 2017 and the Defy El Primero 21 was one of the family's initial stars. That watch is a high-speed chronograph (based on the legendary El Primero) that uses two separate escapements, one for timekeeping and one for the chronograph, allowing it to time events down to 1/100th of a second. Yeah, it's serious stuff. This year, Zenith is following things up with a version with a case made entirely of carbon, down to the caseback, pushers, and crown. Technically speaking, the watch is the same Defy El Primero 21 released two years ago, still powered by the El Primero 9004 caliber, but it gets an updated look and feel, with the carbon case complemented by the almost all black dial treatment, which just uses white markings and pops of red to increase legibility. If you want a thoroughly contemporary chronograph that doesn't just look the part, this is it.
Initial Thoughts

Over the years, Zenith has created a number of variations on the El Primero that take the idea of high-speed chronograph movements to the extremes. There was the Striking Tenth back in the day, but now it's all about these Defy watches and the dual-escapement technology. One interesting thing to note is that*the Defy El Primero 21 is chronometer certified by Time Lab, so you can bet that both the 5 Hz escapement for the running timekeeping and the 50 Hz escapement for the chronograph will prove reliable and steady. In my experience, the 44mm diameter that you see on the spec sheets for these Defy chronos ends up being a bit deceptive: Zenith's choice of lightweight materials (titanium and now carbon) and the case's sculpted shape make them wear a bit smaller than you'd expect. As the El Primero celebrates its 50th birthday this year, it's nice to be reminded that the legendary movement can still serve as a platform for innovation half a century later.
The Basics

Brand: Zenith
Model: Defy El Primero 21 Carbon
Reference Number: 10.9000.9004/96.R782*
Diameter: 44mm
Thickness: 14.5mm
Case Material: Carbon (including caseback, pushers, and crown)
Dial Color: Black openworked with red and white accents
Indexes: Arabic numerals and batons
Lume: Black Super-LumiNova on hands and hour markers
Water Resistance: 100 meters
Strap/Bracelet: Black rubber strap or black rubber strap with alligator top layer; titanium and carbon double folding clasp with black DLC coating
The Movement

Caliber: El Primero 9004 Automatic
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, high-speed chronograph with 60-second and 30 minute totalizers, power reserve indicator
Diameter: 32.8mm
Thickness: 7.9mm
Power Reserve: 55 hours
Winding: Automatic
Frequency: 5 Hz for timekeeping, 50 Hz for chronograph
Jewels: 53
Time-Lab Chronometer Certified*
Pricing & Availability

Price: CHF 18,900
Availability: Not yet announced
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