Art and horology maintain a synergistic relationship; both concern themselves with the physical use of space and limits of imagination. Executed properly, a watch can leave just as indelible an impression as a gorgeous portrait. There is plenty to observe: the design of the dial, the look of the case, the engineering behind the movement, etc.. And in the case of Zenith's Defy 21 Felipe Pantone; all of the above.
Zenith's latest limited-edition timepiece stands as a transformative collaboration with Argentinian-Spanish artist Felipe Pantone; the manufacture had previously offered the facade of its main building to Pantone to use as a canvas. Now, the radical artist has put his own inimitable spin on Zenith's most advanced chronograph, applying his "visible spectrum" concept for a truly arresting aesthetic.
The dial and movement of the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone feature a combination of rainbow gradients and moiré effects.
The premise of the collaboration between Zenith and Felipe Pantone resulted in several watchmaking world-firsts. The manufacture applied the principle of interference colours and an innovative three-dimensional physical vapour deposition (PVD) treatment on a number of surfaces, including certain elements of the dial and movement. Instead of the conventional metal compounds, silicon particles were used as a surface treatment instead, resulting in the distinctive metallic rainbow tones seen with the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone. Furthermore, the array of colours differs from piece to piece, making each example a unique expression unto itself.
Dial-wise, the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone enjoys an ample level of contrast; the rainbow gradient seen with the handset, indices and minute track of the 30-minute totaliser are offset by the black and grey undertones of the semi-openworked dial. A moiré optical effect can also be witnessed here, which parallels several of Pantone's existing works. Due to the timepiece's smaller surface area, achieving the effect necessitated the use of fine laser-engraving and lacquering techniques, creating the illusion of fluidic movement within the contrast of the stripes.
The Defy 21 Felipe Pantone comes with a second rubber strap that mimics the rainbow gradient elements of the dial and movement.
At the heart of the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone is Zenith's chronometer-certified Calibre El Primero 9004, a twin-escapement movement. The first escapement is time-only and beats at an oscillation rate of 36,000 vibrations per hour (VPH). Meanwhile, the second escapement oversees the chronograph function at a much higher frequency of 360,000 VPH. The double-chain structure of the Calibre El Primero 9004 – two balance wheels and two mainsprings – means that both the main time-keeping and chronograph function have power reserves independent of each other. These factors not only result in a timekeeper that is accurate and precise, but robust in its utility as well.
Accompanying the Defy 21 Felipe Pantone is a black textured rubber strap with a warped grid motif. Zenith has also included a second rubber strap that features a special central insert, mimicking the colour gradient of the dial and movement. Limited to 100 examples, this collaborative timepiece arrives in a special box that features a miniaturised painting on its cover, created exclusively for Zenith by Felipe Pantone.
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