When it comes to business strategy in the watch world, no decade beats the 1960s. Many brands felt the automatic chronograph coming— a race was on to develop the first. Zenith was on the cutting edge through all of this. Back in 1958, Zenith acquired their long-time chronograph supplier, Martel Watch Company, and used the resources of their acquisition to develop what was to become their El Primero automatic chronograph. As Zenith dumped R&D into the El Primero project, massive catalog changes were planned for when the new chrono was ready. Zenith was to be positioned as a brand of the future. When the El Primero finally arrived in 1969, so did an almost entirely new catalogue of offerings with a distinct 1970s retrofuturism feel.
Zenith responded to early 1960s popular culture, obsessed with sports watches, particularly waterproof watches thanks to the world of diving being explored in film and television of the time. From Jacques Cousteau to the Kon-Tiki and Everest expeditions, hard-wearing, substantial, sports watches were in high demand.
In a case paying homage to Rolex’s first waterproof oyster case, the Defy is Zenith’s answer. Introduced alongside the El Primero, the name Defy was applied to a range of watches all with a similar aim— substantially built with a focus on shock protection and designed with a futuristic aesthetic.
This particular Defy, reference A7682, is one of the first from the product line, dating to either 1969 or 1970. Distinctive to this reference number is the deep burgundy dial, the case shape, and date aperture at 4:30. Some later Defy references identify themselves by using a different Zenith logo, the five-pointed star seen here was discontinued sometime in the early 1970s.
The Case and Bracelet
Condition of the quasi-cushion shaped stainless-steel case is good but not great, showing obvious signs of polishing in the past having lost its sharp edges. Polishing aside, the watch is being sold in as found condition— no modern watchmaker or collector has attempted to sharpen those edges and the crystal has not been polished.
The caseback shows a few shallow scratches, likely due to a poor attempt at removal at some point. These scratches are not as bad as many seen on similar screw-down casebacks. A Zenith four-pointed star is shown prominently on most of the back and the original case serial number stamping is still present where many are worn away from wrist-time and polishing.
The Zenith signed crown and bracelet are both correct and appear original to this watch. The bracelet is in great condition, with no real stretching present, and a fully functioning clasp.
The Dial and Hands
Underneath that slightly scuffed crystal appears to be a dial and hands in excellent condition. The gradient burgundy dial shows no spotting or marks with a vibrant color. A dulling and darkening of the red dial is seen in lesser condition examples of this reference. Correctly marked “SWISS MADE T” at 6 o’clock referring to the use of tritium lume on the dial and hands. The lume seems to be in great condition on the dial with all plots present at each hour marker.
The hands are correct for this reference and appear original to this watch. Lume is complete and present in all three and aging at varying rates. Other examples show this similar mismatching in patina, it is possible Zenith’s lume mixtures were not very consistent in this period.
Zenith’s caliber 2562 PC is an extremely hard wearing and reliable automatic movement. Coming over in the acquisition, the 25XX PC family of automatics were developed by Martel Watch Company and are renowned for their shock protection. Of note on the topic of shock protection is the ring of copper surrounding the movement in the Defy’s case, this was designed to further shield against bumps and drops.
|Location||New York City|
|Movement||Automatic 2562 PC|
|Case Material||Stainless Steel|
|Band Material||Stainless Steel|
|Clasp Type||Single Deployment|