Zenith Kicks off LVMH Watch Week with the New Defy Skyline Skeleton

This week, the focus of the watch world turns to Singapore, where brands from the LVMH stable have gathered for LVMH Watch Week 2023, the first big trade show of the year. The format this year is a hybrid between on-location and digital presentations, and features the full roster of LVMH brands, including Buglari, Hublot, and TAG Heuer. Today, we’re focusing on Zenith, as they’ve released a slate of watches in the Defy collection that mirrors last year’s new pieces, and also follows a formula we’ve seen through previous generations of the Defy. There are several new additions to the Defy collection overall, but to kick things off we’ll be taking a look at what Zenith has positioned as their marquee new release, the Defy Skyline Skeleton. 


The Zenith fans among you will remember that last year saw the introduction of the Defy Skyline platform, a new version of the Defy that borrows the high frequency movement found in Zenith’s latest chronographs, but without the chronograph. The integrated bracelet sports watches feature a unique running seconds display with a hand that makes a full rotation around its subdial once every ten seconds. Not, perhaps, the most useful feature to find its way to a luxury sports watch, but it’s kind of fun, and works as a flex on Zenith’s part in a very inside-baseball kind of way. 

And now, just as Zenith introduced a skeleton dial to the Defy Classic after it had been around for a bit, they’ve updated the Skyline with versions featuring a skeletonized dial. The Defy is meant to be Zenith’s most tech forward, contemporary sports watch, so an ultra modern open dial feels right at home in this line. For the Skyline, the architecture of the openworked dial mimics the star logo Zenith used in the 1960s, and at launch will be available in both black and blue variants, with colors matched between the open dial itself and the visible plates on the movement right below it. As an added touch, the winding rotor is also color matched to the dial. 

An important change in the dial design beyond the new openworked format is the placement of that running seconds hand. It sat at the 9:00 position on last year’s Defy Skyline, but here has shifted to 6:00. This change adds a great deal of balance to the dial, and makes it feel less like a stripped down El Primero. That 6:00 subdial is essentially a small anthracite ring, which corresponds nicely with the outer minute track that surrounds the dial’s open section. Zenith has given the Skyline Skeleton large, lume filled, applied hour markers that are mounted from this minute track and appear to be cantilevered over the open dial. This is a similar construction to the skeleton dial in the Defy Classic line that contributes greatly to easy legibility in spite of the inherent business and complexity of an open design. 

Like last year’s Skyline, the case on the Skeleton measures 41mm and is inspired largely by the octagonal design of Defy references dating to the 60s. When I reviewed the Skyline last year, I was impressed by the case finishing wrist presence of the watch. It wore comfortably despite having some heft, and felt to me like a natural extension of vintage Defys, which are watches I’ve always had a special fondness for. I would expect that in terms of wearing comfort and overall feel on the wrist, this Skyline Skeleton will be identical to last year’s model. 

As you’d expect, the Skyline Skeleton makes use of the same El Primero 3620 movement found in the prior version. This is a high frequency movement beating at 5 Hz, with a silicon escape wheel (it’s purple, and can be seen from the dial side now that the Skyline has gone skeleton). It has a 60 hour power reserve, and as has been proven out via a multitude of chronographs housing a version of this caliber, it’s robust and reliable, and makes sense in Zenith’s core sports watch offerings. 

The new Defy Skyline Skeleton is available now through authorized Zenith channels. The retail price is $11,000. 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.