Today, Zenith announces the brand new Zenith Defy Lab collection replica watches that contains what they claim is the world’s most accurate mechanical movement. The in-house made caliber ZO 342 automatic operates at 15Hz, which is faster (a good thing) than the vast majority of mechanical watches out there, including Zenith’s legendary 5Hz “high beat” frequency El Primero automatic chronograph movement. This is a bold new step not only for Zenith, but also for the entire watch industry as it further legitimizes a controversial but ultimately wise creative direction. Zenith will debut the Defy Lab as a very limited set of 10 “piece unique” watches – at comparably “exclusive” prices. What about everyone else who will want one of these very compelling timepieces? Zenith makes it clear that the initial 10 Defy Lab watches are “only the beginning.” The Defy Lab’s movement will not only be put into regular production, but it will serve as a base for future complications. The first set of Defy Lab watches after this initial debut collector’s set is planned for production in 2018.
The discussion about mechanical wristwatch accuracy can be long and is way outside the scope of us introducing the Zenith Defy Lab. Suffice it to say that Zenith’s claimed accuracy of 0.3 seconds per day for the caliber ZO 342 movement in this first model is going to cause a lot of people to do a double take because of how impressive it is (for a mechanical watch). Note that for production models down the road (when there is less opportunity to spend so much time choosing the right parts), accuracy will be guaranteed to +/- 0.5 seconds a day… with no loss in rate results as the torque of the mainspring winds down. In other words, the rate results are a flat horizontal line, which is something that silicon technology has made much more readily available in mechanical time measuring tools.
I want to also mention that it is a huge deal that Zenith limited edition fake watches even went so far as to make a claim about accuracy performance in their press release. I’ve read over a thousand wristwatch press releases and aside from Seiko (who routinely under-reports their wristwatches’ accuracy performance – for reasons again outside the scope of the conversation), Zenith is among a very small number of brands who actually make a specific claim about accuracy performance in their documentation. For Zenith and LVMH it is about increasing transparency according to Jean-Claude Biver (who is the head of watchmaking at the group).
By Zenith men’s fake watches indicating the average accuracy (performance varies under different wearing conditions) of the Defy Lab’s movement, they more or less put other brands at notice that if they want to boast about a watch “designed for high accuracy,” they actually need go the distance and make a specific claim about accuracy. This is a good time to discuss mechanisms like a tourbillon and how watch makers typically deal with such features. While a tourbillon was originally designed to increase the accuracy of a mechanical watch or clock movement, it doesn’t actually do that in many real world wristwatch applications. Thus, watch brands often rode a thin line by not actually commenting on a watch’s performance, while trying to bolster the story about what the mechanism was originally designed for. I have to applaud Jean-Claude Biver along with Zenith’s management and communication teams for going the distance and not only promoting an accurate watch, but actually telling people the type of performance that they can expect.