The Zenith Defy Extreme Desert is the first special edition of this most extreme of mechanical chronographs, limited as it is to just 50 pieces worldwide, and we might end up referring to it as the Falcon’s Eye. If that is too literal, we have another suggestion… Believe it or not, the desert theme has been coming on stronger and stronger with every passing year, probably since 2017.
By way of happy coincidence, the Zenith Defy Extreme Desert might well earn itself a spectacular moniker by emerging right now: the Arrakis. Just from the colour scheme of the watch in its configuration with rubber interchangeable strap alone, the 45 mm Defy Extreme Desert looks the part of a Dune watch. Now take a look at the face of the watch, framed as it is with the geometric excess of the raised round bezel with a dodecagonal outline. While the Defy Extreme Desert is not meant to reference a pop culture phenomenon, the hour markers and bezel design make this look like a homage to Frank Herbert’s signature sand worms.
Our own flights of fancy aside, the Zenith Defy Extreme Desert is tied in with exotic landscape photographer Kourosh Keynejad. It is a titanium boutique edition that uses falcon’s eye gemstones for the aforementioned dodecagonal outline and for the chronograph pushers. Given this quartz stone’s properties, that means each of the 50 watches will be ever so slightly different to one another. Other touches exclusive to this edition are the tinted sapphire crystal dial with beige chronograph counters, reminding one constantly that the El Primero 9004 dual-escapement automatic calibre is keeping time here.
The specific environments referenced by the Defy Extreme Desert are the Great Basin, Mojave, Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts in North America. Keynejad captured his own visions of these four deserts, and the resulting photographs will be exhibited in a travelling exhibition this year, starting with FIAC in Paris before moving on to Dubai and Tokyo.
“The only true constant in my field is the sun. We use it to control the days, and watch it paint our world with light. The elements and weather are always unpredictable, but the sun never fails to rise. It rises on time. It sets on time. It’s never late. When Zenith approached me with the idea for a collaboration, I couldn’t have thought of a better fit. Precision of time and light are key to a great photograph. With optimal planning and the flawless engineering of Zenith watches, I never miss my moment,” said Keynejad about working with Zenith.
Also commenting on the partnership, Zenith CEO, Julien Tornare said this: “I’ve been following Kourosh’s work for some time now and I have to say, I’m always blown away by the way he’s able to transport us to these faraway, untouched locations and showing us a side of nature that we never really knew — or simply overlooked. The great thing about Kourosh is that by reaching his star, he is also spreading awareness about the environmental issues and challenges that we all must face together.”
In all other ways, the Defy Extreme Desert edition is exactly the same as other Defy Extreme chronograph models.