As its latest new release of 2023, Zenith has unveiled this year’s updated version of the Defy Extreme E chronograph. For those not familiar with the world of automotive racing, Extreme E is an international off-road racing series that features electric SUVs competing in remote locations around the world to help raise awareness about climate change. To celebrate its role as the Official Timekeeper of the Extreme E racing series, Zenith has produced a handful of different limited-edition watches, and last year, the brand created a series of models that were inspired by the different races that form the Extreme E calendar. Making its debut appearance at this year’s “Hydro X Prix” race in Scotland, the new Zenith Defy Extreme E 2023 Limited Edition watch builds upon the previous generation of models that were dedicated to last year’s season, and it represents the lightest version yet with a case that is made entirely from carbon fiber.
At a quick glance, the new Zenith Defy Extreme E 2023 Limited Edition looks almost identical to the models from the previous generation (such as last year’s “Island X Prix” edition that we covered right here). However, rather than embracing a red, orange, yellow, or purple colorway like previous iterations, the new 2023 edition features the Extreme E series’ signature “Vital Green” color throughout its strap and dial accents. While the core design of the new model’s 45mm case appears to have been carried over from the previous series, it is now crafted entirely from carbon fiber, rather than having its pusher protectors and twelve-sided made from titanium. The Zenith Defy Extreme E 2023 Limited Edition holds the distinction of being the most lightweight version of the brand’s 1/100th of a second chronograph that has been put forward thus far, and the entire watch (including its strap) weighs a total of just 96 grams.
Similar to the previous generation of Extreme E chronographs, sapphire crystals are fitted to both the dial side of the watch and its screw-on caseback, while a signed screw-down crown flanked by two angular pushers protrudes from the 3 o’clock side of the case. That said, despite the change to an entirely carbon fiber case construction, the new Zenith Defy Extreme E 2023 Limited Edition still retains the rather generous 200 meters of water resistance that accompanies the rest of the models from the collection. The primary strap option is a black and “Vital Green” rubber strap with a Velcro-style closure that incorporates material from recycled Continental CrossContact tires that were used during the first season’s races. The black rubber central section is surrounded by green cordura-textured rubber, and the loop for the closure is made from carbon fiber to match the case of the watch. Additionally, two additional straps (black rubber and black Velcro) are also included, and they can be easily swapped without the use of any tools by simply pressing the small buttons located on the underside of the lugs.
The dial fitted to the new Zenith Defy Extreme E 2023 Limited Edition is virtually identical to what can be found inside the previous generation of models, although it now features accents in the Extreme E series’ signature “Vital Green” color. The dial itself is made from a piece of tinted sapphire to give it a largely skeletonized appearance, and it embraces a three-register layout with black-colored sub-dials and an arc-shaped power reserve indicator at the 12 o’clock location. Aside from the new colorway, the dial and handset otherwise appear to be the exact same as those fitted to the previous series of Defy Extreme E models, and the hour markers and hands are both rhodium-plated and finished with Super-LumiNova SLN C1 for added visibility in low-light settings. While some watches with skeletonized dials can suffer from legibility issues, the extra wide shape of the hands and indexes allow them to stand out against the darkened sapphire surface of the dial that sits below them.
Powering the new Zenith Defy Extreme E 2023 Limited Edition watch is the same El Primero 9004 automatic chronograph movement that can be found inside other models from the Defy Extreme series. Featuring two independent escapements, with one running at 36,000vph (5 Hz) for the time, and another running at 360,000vph (50 Hz) for the chronograph, the Zenith El Primero 9004 offers users the ability to measure times down to 1/100th of a second, while still being able to provide a power reserve of approximately 50 hours. Rather than making one full rotation each minute, the centrally-mounted chronograph seconds hand rotates once per second, while elapsed seconds are counted by the sub-dial at 6 o’clock and a 30-minute totalizer sits at the 3 o’clock location. While the El Primero 9004 holds the distinction of being the highest-frequency chronograph movement currently available, having a separate escapement for the chronograph allows it to benefit from its incredible 50Hz frequency, without sacrificing any of its power reserve when it is not being used to track elapsed time.