Dive Watches are Back in the Zenith Defy Collection

Here’s a thing you may or may not know about Watches & Wonders: there are very few genuine surprises once we hit the Palexpo floor. Almost every brand (Rolex, Tudor, and Patek are the big holdouts) send press releases to media weeks before the show so coverage can be prepped. By the time we walk into a meeting with virtually any brand exhibiting, we already have the key information on their new novelties and are just looking for additional context, hands-on impressions, and an opportunity to get those all important photos. But sometimes brands hold back a release or two, and this will sometimes result in the kind of extremely welcome surprise I experienced when I visited Zenith early this week. One of my favorite brands has dive watches again. 

We already told you about the Defy Skyline Chronograph, but in addition to that watch Zenith had an even bigger (literally and figuratively) Defy up their sleeve. The new Defy Extreme Diver represents the brand’s long awaited return to the dive watch category, and they’ve done it where you’d expect: within the highly technical and sometimes brazen Defy range. The new Extreme Diver has an imposing 42.5mm titanium case with the characteristic 12 sided bezel common to other Defys, and outside this fixed bezel we get a ceramic dive bezel. The case is rated to an extremely unnecessary 600 meters, which is the same depth as the original Defy diver, the A3648, from 1969. 


The dial utilizes the star pattern that has become standard on the Defy Skyline, and we get almost comically oversized skeleton hands with giant blocks of lume at their tips. Hour indices are similarly lumed, and the watch is available in both black and blue colorways, each with a contrasting orange minute track. In person it was easy to see the degree to which legibility was prioritized in the design. The markers and hands have a way of leaping off the dial in the way you’d want them to in a serious diver. Both watches can be work on a matching titanium bracelet or rubber strap, and Zenith also provides an option for a NATO style pass through strap thanks to the inclusion of special end-links that can be mounted to the integrated lugs. It’s a neat trick that will allow owners to get a variety of fabric straps on the watch, which is kind of unheard for integrated bracelet sports watches like this. 

The Defy Extreme Diver is incredibly cool, but the watch that really impressed me at Zenith’s presentation was a recreation of the aforementioned A3648. This is a true inside-baseball vintage reference, and it feels like a big tip of the cap by Zenith to their most ardent fans and supporters who continue to obsess over vintage references, particularly those in the always ahead of its time Defy collection. 

The Defy Revival A3648 is the first diver to get Zenith’s revival treatment, which has become an ongoing series that represents some of the best reissues of vintage watches in the industry. This watch, like the original it’s based on, has a compact 37mm case and a complex 14 sided bezel. One of the coolest features of the original was a rotating dive bezel that was covered in plexiglass, which has been replaced by sapphire here for a similar look and a slight modern twist. 

The star of the show, though, is the dial, which has a black interior section and a bright orange minute track with matching hands (the rotating bezel is also orange). In person it screams summer, and while the specs (600 meters of water resistance, just like the original and the new Extreme Diver) make it capable of just about water based activity you can throw at it, this is the type of colorful sports watch that would feel right at home at a beach bar while the owner orders a cocktail that comes with an umbrella in it.

Both the Zenith Defy Extreme Diver and the Defy Revivial A3648 are available right now from Zenith. Retail pricing for the Extreme Diver is $11,300, and the Revival is priced at $7,700. Zenith

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Zach is a native of New Hampshire, and he has been interested in watches since the age of 13, when he walked into Macy’s and bought a gaudy, quartz, two-tone Citizen chronograph with his hard earned Bar Mitzvah money. It was lost in a move years ago, but he continues to hunt for a similar piece on eBay. Zach loves a wide variety of watches, but leans toward classic designs and proportions that have stood the test of time. He is currently obsessed with Grand Seiko.