Light, colors and motion fuse together in a new expression of time. The timepiece, the Zenith DEFY Extreme Felipe Pantone, sees the innovation of the Swiss watchmaker collaborate and combine with the contemporary creativity of the Valencia-based Argentine artist. The result is limited to just 100 pieces, each one unique as functional yet highly chromatic artworks. Established in 1865, Zenith has always been at the forefront of Swiss watchmaking: innovative engineering, artistic aesthetics and creative collaborations. The brand has – and is – shaping the future by daring to challenge for new heights. The Zenith DEFY Extreme Felipe Pantone continues this. In fact, it is the fourth instalment of a series of collaborations between the company and the vibrant multimedia optical artist. The relationship began with a specially designed façade tarpaulin in 2020. This was followed by the DEFY 2021 series watch that was instantly sold out on launch, and a record-breaking auction piece for the Only Watch 2021 charity event.
The Zenith DEFY Extreme Felipe Pantone expands the realm of artistic expression in watchmaking, actually inspired by his own Planned Iridescence series. Its base, the DEFY Extreme, was the natural choice of canvas as to offer the artist as much scope as possible. Felipe Pantone’s renowned aesthetic and optical magic was transfigured into a smaller scale thanks to creative solutions. A bold combination of color, metallic elements, and mathematically-conceived shapes and shades generate illusions that transcend the boundaries of the analogue and virtual worlds.
‘Once again, I’m ultra happy to announce a new collaboration with the Swiss horology masters at ZENITH. For this watch, I applied and referenced some of the concepts behind my Planned Iridescence series. For the first time, I intervened a piece of sapphire creating a radical hologram that appears only under the right light in an astounding way. The watch is full of incredible details, possible after a long year collaborating back-to-back with the team at Le Locle,’ shares Felipe Pantone. Crafted entirely in mirror-polished stainless steel, the faceted lines of the timepiece’s case takes on a new sculpture. Its four corners are engraved with FP#1, a coded signature for Felipe Pantone El Primero. Transparency and color are then placed where least expected. The dodecagonal bezel as well as the chronograph’s pusher protectors are made in translucent blue YAS – a crystalline glass akin to synthetic sapphire. To match, it is complete with a translucent blue silicone strap. A fully polished steel bracelet as well as black Velcro strap can easily be swapped in with the push of a button on the case back. Translucent and metallic aesthetics are a continued theme for the dial thanks to sapphire elements. A physio-chemical process has been used to create hidden micro-engraved patterns that are just 100 nanometers deep. It lends an iridescent effect that sparkles with different colors and reveals patterns as the angle of light shifts. As a result, the dial reflects and retains the highly chromatic style typical of the artist whilst also bringing dynamic, metamorphic qualities to watchmaking.
Borrowing the same three-dimensional PVD technique as the Zenith DEFY 21 series, the DEFY Extreme Felipe Pantone’s hour and minute hands as well as the movement feature a perfectly transitioning gradient of a metallic rainbow. Each set takes on slightly different colors to truly make each watch a unique work of art. The minute counter adorns a graduated scale of colors segmented by a different tone per minute. The second counter mimics a moiré effect with very fine concentric black and white lines.The watch beats at 1/100th of a second through an automatic high-frequency chronograph. This is thanks to the innovative El Primero movement, which features an efficient construction of two independently driven regulating organs that work at 50Hz and 5Hz for the chronograph function and timekeeping. The movement has received a makeover for the collaboration. Its open star-shaped oscillating weight is finished in the same gradient rainbow as the dial’s hands.
Felipe Pantone has brought his full-spectrum toolkit to Zenith once again for a “highly chromatic” op art takeover of the Le Locle brand’s DEFY Extreme.
The Spanish-Argentinian contemporary artist has created “a new expression of time through light, colours and motion”, the 100-piece DEFY Extreme Felipe Pantone
Transforming the rugged, dual-escapement high beat chronograph proved a challenge for Zenith, which had to find a technical solution to translate characteristic from Pantone’s Planned Iridescence series onto the much smaller scale of a watch dial.
The brand created a radial hologram on a sapphire crystal disc using a “physio-chemical process to create hidden micro-engraved patterns just 100 nanometres deep.” The disc initially appears “translucent and metallic” before revealing “a spark of colours and geometric patterns” after being turned into the light.
The metallic elements found in the Planned Iridescence series are reflected in the entirely polished finish of the watch’s stainless steel case, while the bezel and pusher guards are crafted from YAS (yttrium aluminosilicate) – a crystalline glass comparable to synthetic sapphire, color matched with a translucent blue silicone strap, which is accompanied by a fully polished stainless steel bracelet as well as a black Velcro strap.
The four shoulders of the watch are engraved with “FP#1”, shorthand for Felipe Pantone El Primero.
Pantone’s first watch collaboration with Zenith came in 2021, when a limited edition DEFY 21 quickly sold-out, leading to a unique piece DEFY 21 Double Tourbillon for the Only Watch 2021 auction, which sold for 480,000 CHF becoming the most expensive Zenith sold at auction.