First look at Zenith's new Land Rover-inspired watch
Collabs with automotive brands are a relative no brainer in the watchmaking world. As any neurosurgeon will tell you (probably), the same bit of the brain that makes men go all goo-goo eyed at a car is but a synapse away from the part that make him get all hot and bothered over a chronograph. So the marriage-made-in-heaven of luxury and functionality ensures that new watches inspired by great and iconic vehicles have a captive audience from the get go. And if they are well enough conceived, they are just as appealing to people who don’t wake up in the morning thinking about carburetors.
Which is a good thing, because the Zenith Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover Edition, a striking new chronograph available in limited numbers now, is inspired by a Land Rover—the new Defender—that isn’t even out yet. The 2020 version of the Defender, its launch delayed like everything else by Covid-19, is the first new Defender model since its predecessor ceased production in 2016. It is a rather more luxurious proposition than its many more angular forebears that date back to 1983. Yet most real Land Rover nuts, even as they wallow in comfort, still revel in the functional appeal and the cowshit-caked agricultural history of the original workhorse Land Rovers (which trace their lineage all the way back to 1948).
The Defy Land Rover Edition is, similarly, the perfect fusion of functionality and luxury. There’s a rugged angularity and a no-nonsense finish in the micro-blasted matte gray titanium for sure, but there’s also a sense of refinement in the three readout chronograph dials (capable of measuring to one one-hundredth of a second) accented in orange, and in the extras like a tiny linear power reserve display below the logo.
What Zenith have achieved here is to define what those of us who are fans of the Defender in all its guises mean when we say we like it. That Zenith opted not to plaster the Land Rover logo all over it, or make obvious or easy design lifts from the Defender, means this is a watch you also can get behind even if cars just don’t float your, er, boat.
Defy El Primero 21 Land Rover Edition watch by Zenith, limited to 250 pieces, $13,600, www.zenith-watches.com