Julien Tornare, Zenith CEO Presents the Brand’s Latest Novelties

Lindsay Judge   |   10-02-2022

Julien Tornare, Zenith CEO presents the latest novelties during LVMH Watch Week and discusses the future of the brand in the Middle East.


“In 2019 Zenith celebrated the 50th anniversary of El Primero movement, then in 2020 it was the big comeback of the Chronomaster line, this year we are talking about DEFY. We are continuing to evolve the Defy collection and we have kept the spirit of Defy and the spirit of Zenith in a very contemporary way. That’s what DEFY is all about.” Explains Julien Tornare, Zenith CEO as he invites us to discover the brand’s latest novelties through a virtual presentation. As he shares the newest timepieces from the brand we are invited into the ever-evolving world of DEFY.


DEFY Skyline




We begin with the new DEFY Skyline, which Tornare is wearing as he shares it with us. “It’s an evolution of the Defy in a way that’s very elegant on one side but also very dynamic. You can feel the energy of the watch and it’s super easy to wear.” He says. Recalling the night sky above a bustling city that never sleeps, the DEFY Skyline is dedicated to those who follow their light and forge their own path on their journey towards their star. The star-studded dial with a sunburst finish is embellished with a perfectly aligned pattern consisting of engraved four-pointed stars, which are a modern interpretation of the Zenith “double Z” logo of the 1960s. “We wanted to give a bit of warmth and depth on the dial, so we worked with our star – the type of star that we used in the sixties and seventies – we worked on its design and we created this pattern which gives a great result. The rendering of the dial is quite stunning.” Explains Tornare.



With its unique bezel, the watch draws inspiration from the unique octagonal geometry of the early DEFY models including the recently revived Defy A3642 without attempting to merely recreate the past. The watch also features the brand’s iconic El Primero movement; the new El Primero 3620. And finally, it has an interchangeable strap. “This is a very important feature in today’s world as I think people are looking for something that can be easily changed It can completely change the look of the watch.” Said Tornare.


DEFY Revival A3642




The DEFY Revival A3642 further continues Zenith mission to give a second life to some of its iconic watches following the success of the reproductions of El Primero models from the 1960s and 1970s. First produced in 1960 the new DEFY Revival A3642 is a re-edition of a classic piece, perfect for avid watch collectors. It features a bold, octagonal case with a fourteen-side bezel (the same one that inspired the new DEFY Skyline), as well as a steel ladder bracelet. It has a warm grey dial with a striking gradient effect that darkens towards the edges.





The watch has been reproduced in accurate detail using the original production plans from 1969 but there is one main difference. Unlike the original the DEFY Revival A3642 features a sapphire display back showing the automatic Elite 670 manufacture movement, operating at a frequency of 4 Hz (28’800 VpH) and delivering a power reserve of 50 hours when fully wound. “This is very much a collector’s watch.” Explains Tornare.


DEFY Midnight





Two new iterations of the DEFY Midnight collection add to the brand’s ladies offering. “We wanted to bring a new expression of what the sky can be – it’s not always blue or grey – sometimes it can be multicoloured and that’s what the new design is referring to.” Said Tornare. Housed in a 36mm stainless steel case embellished with brilliant-cut white diamonds on the bezel, these two vibrant versions reinterpret traditional craftsmanship in new and unprecedented form.




The first watch, DEFY Midnight Borealis is inspired by the northern lights phenomenon witnessed around the arctic circle. It features a midnight blue dial that gradually shifts to a bright emerald green towards to bottom. And the second, DEFY Midnight Sunset, features a dial that seamlessly transitions from warm red to a deep yellow tone in a perfect gradient of colours that recalls the moment the sun hits the horizon at the end of the day. “These watches also have the interchangeable strap system. You buy the watch on a metal bracelet and you get two straps.” Tornare explained.



These new watches also introduce a new partnership for the brand, working with startup company Nona Source. Incubated by LVMH Nona Source transforms cast away pieces of material from the group’s fashion brands and upcycles them to become high fashion watch straps. “It’s quite amazing because we are talking about recycling and upcycling but you have the magic of these beautiful fashion brands from within the LVMH fashion group and we now have the ability to them into watch straps.” Said Tornare of the project. “It’s a super-exclusive offering and now two straps can be exactly the same”. Positioned as a high-end watch strap that reinforces the brand’s values around sustainability, the Nona Source pieces will be available initially only on the brand’s website but are expected to roll out across stores in the future.


DEFY Extreme Carbon



“We launched the first Defy Extreme watch last year and this year we are presenting a new material of carbon and micro-blasted titanium, which gives a very sporty look to the watch and is linked to our partnership with Extreme E.” Said Tornare. Built to withstand the elements and equipped with the world’s fastest and most precise automatic chronograph movement, the new DEFY Extreme features an incredibly light carbon case, pushers and crown. Within the monolithic case, the open multi-layered dial features a mix of colours inspired by the EXTREME E’s “X Prix” colour schemes adapted for each race.




The 1/100th of a second chronograph scale features bright yellow markers, while the tinted sapphire crystal dial’s chronograph counters are in bright blue, green and white, with matching-coloured small hands. Partially visible through the dial as well as the case back is the fastest automatic high-frequency chronograph calibre, offering1/100th of a second-time measurements, with two escapements beating at 5Hz (36’000 VpH) for the timekeeping part and 50Hz (360’000 VpH) for the chronograph.


DEFY 21 Chroma



“The last watch we are presenting is the new Defy 21 Chroma in white ceramic. It’s a watch that people know well, but this time it comes in white ceramic and with colours on the indexes as well as in some parts of the movement.” Said Tornare. Zenith has become known for its use of colours over the last few years and now for the first time, the Manufacture has developed a new method of placing colour within the movement itself. It is framed in a white ceramic case with an all-over matte finish to provide a perfect contrast to the colours within. The sapphire crystal gives way to a refracted rainbow spread evenly across the open dial and movement, with a perfectly transitioning gradient of colours spanning the entire colour spectrum. It is limited to 200 pieces and is available at Zenith boutiques and authorized retailers around the world.


Zenith in the Middle East

As Zenith launches these exciting new novelties what better time to talk about the brand in the region and its ever-growing presence here? “The Middle East is an incredible region for Zenith and we want it to be part of the top four regions next to the Americas, Asia and Europe. We are gaining more and more clients from the region which makes it a super important region for us.” Said Tornare. “We opened The Dubai Mall boutique a year ago and it became the number one boutique in the world. We know that The Dubai Mall is a key mall in the world, but for us to develop our business there so fast is fantastic news because it shows the potential of the brand in the region which is huge. Last year we doubled our business in the Middle East from 2019, despite the pandemic.”


And the next steps are clear as Zenith prepares to open its first boutique in Saudi Arabia this month at Kingdom Mall in Riyadh. “It is a big step for us as it will be the first time we are entering Saudi Arabia and in a big way. We have a key location in a key mall. So that’s a fantastic step.” Tornare will be joining some of the region’s watch enthusiasts in The Kingdom next month for the Extreme E race in Neom and there are many other exciting happenings to come over the next year. “We only have good signs coming from the region!” he says.


Brand Partnerships

Partnerships and brand ambassadors are key to Zenith who are looking for something very specific when aligning with a new partner or representative. Tornare explains: “Zenith has a long history of 157 years and we are very much known for being a super authentic brand. One of the reasons for this is that 100 per cent of our watches have a Zenith movement. Secondly, we communicate only on true stories. So we are all about transparency and authenticity. When we select an ambassador or friend of the brand, we first want someone who is true. Someone who will fit in with our values and will share his or her life experience and it has to be in line with our “Time to reach your star” philosophy. That’s what we are looking for. We don’t want the easy option of the “red carpet effect”. Of course, that brings awareness and makes noise, but customers are looking more and more for a true brand and this is what Zenith is all about.”


The Vision For Zenith in 2022

To conclude, Tornare summarises his vision for the brand in the coming year: “It’s quite simple. 2021 was a record year, we literally took the brand into a new league. And 2022 is about continuing this momentum in a different way. Defy is now coming back very strongly and later in the year we are going to have a few other launches and animations. The brand is here to be very active. Over the last couple of years, we have announced or launched something more or less every month and it is super important for us to continue this and to keep the brand alive, bringing a more dynamic approach to the industry.”