Open Debate: Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton


Who needs to have a running seconds display on the dial when you could have a madly spinning 1/10th of a second subdial instead, as you could with the Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton? We have previously written up the Defy Skyline, on its debut, and it remains the only regular production watch collection in the world to showcase a 1/10th of a second display on the dial; with the Defy Skyline Skeleton, the brand moves the small seconds subdial to 6 o’clock, with the entire dial openworked to showcase a similarly openworked calibre 3620 SK. It is thus now the only openworked watch in the world with a 1/10th of a second display, production or otherwise (as far as we know). You could also wear it every day, thanks to its 100-metre water-resistance; truly not the skeletonised watch of yore. 

The Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton debuted at the LVMH Watch Week in Singapore and immediately impressed us, while sparking some lively conversation that continues even now. This model puts the running seconds display in a traditional location, while continuing to defy expectations of a small seconds display. Combined with the aforementioned openworked elements, Zenith asks many questions of collectors and enthusiasts with Defy Skyline Skeleton. While we think the 1/10th of a second display is visually interesting, we have no argument with those who question its practical utility. And having both a skeleton framework for a dial (in blue or black), and industrially produced skeletonised movement parts is certainly provocative — and we have not even gotten to the price yet.

Everything about the Defy Skyline Skeleton is driven by the automatic calibre 3620 SK, which is effectively a new version of the El Primero line without the chronograph. That uniquely quirky seconds display is driven directly off the 5 Hz escapement, reminding everyone that the movement is indeed an El Primero. It should be pointed out that the case for everyday use with this high-performance mechanical ticker is also made stronger by the claimed 60-hour power reserve. Looking closely at the movement, it looks every bit as robust as the brand claims, with none of the trademark fussiness of a traditional skeletonised movement. Helping with longevity here are the escape wheel and anchor, both in silicon (which boasts excellent tribological properties).

On the wrist, the 41mm eight-sided case wears a little larger than that size suggests, mainly due to the integrated lugs; it also sits higher than its 11.6mm height suggests. The 12-sided bezel draws the eye to both the polished and brushed surfaces of the case, as well as the four-pointed star that forms that framework dial, which should count as a dial because the applied indices are positioned on top of it. Finally, the Zenith website lists this watch at S$16,100 (CHF10,900), which speaks for itself.

Clearly, the Zenith Defy Skyline Skeleton is not the watch for everyone, but our bet is that enthusiasts will enjoy it. Collectors will almost certainly venture an opinion on it — they might even cross a room just to do so.

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