Introducing the Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover Defender Edition, A Subdued Take on a Wild Chronograph

The Zenith Defy line is one of the most unapologetically modern in all of contemporary watchmaking. With roots in the ’70s, the Defy has always been a platform for high tech movements and unusual, love-it-or-hate-it design. This week, Zenith introduced a new limited edition version of their Defy 21, their most advanced El Primero-derived chronograph, with a unique 50hz mechanism that sends the center seconds hand around the dial at alarming speed. This new piece, a collaboration with Land Rover, is an interesting exercise in creating something that is both wildly high tech in terms of the watchmaking behind it, but based on something (the iconic Land Rover Defender) that is known for its simplicity and humble agricultural roots. Let’s take a closer look.

Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover Defender Edition

  • Case Material: Titanium
  • Dial: Gray; Super-Luminova SLN C3
  • Dimensions: 44mm
  • Crystal: Sapphire   
  • Water Resistance: 100 meters           
  • Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic (/100th of a second chronograph, linear power reserve display)
  • Strap/bracelet: Rubber, fabric
  • Price: $13,400
  • Reference Number: 97.9000.9004/01.R787


While many will associate modern Defys with dramatic and sometimes hard to read skeleton dials, the Zenith Defy 21 Land Rover Defender edition is presented with a closed dial in a matte gray color, matching the tone of the “blasted titanium” case. Gray is a sober and toolish color for any watch, and it seems like a good match in spirit for a watch inspired by the classic Defender. This watch, with its Land Rover connection, wouldn’t have felt right in a brightly colored ceramic case.

The entire watch is a monochromatic affair that is somewhat at odds with the rest of the Defy line, which are not exactly known to be stealthy. Although the case measures 44mm in diameter, it’s tonneau shape wears easily, and the lightweight titanium is likely to be comfortable enough for all day wear. Small orange accents throughout provide just enough visual interest and aid in overall legibility, but don’t detract at all from the seeming intent on Zenith’s part to create a simplified, streamlined version of the Defy 21.

Something that is certainly not simplified in the new Defy 21 Land Rover Defender edition is the movement. This highly modified El Primero movement features two escapements: one for normal timekeeping that beats at a rate of 36,000 vph, and another for the chronograph itself, which is set to run at a 50 hz, or 360,000 vph. This sends the chronograph seconds hand around the dial exactly once per second, which is certainly a trip the first time you see it. There aren’t a lot of watches in regular production that feature multiple escapements, so the Defy 21 is truly unusual, and even more so given its price tag of $13,400. 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.