The Zenith Defy Lab

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Presented as the world’s most accurate mechanical watch, and the recent winner of The Innovation Watch Prize at the prestigious Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genève 2017, the Zenith Defy Lab could change the future of mechanical watches.

Zenith has unveiled a groundbreaking development in the systems used to measure time – the Zenith Oscillator. Devised by Guy Sémon, a former pilot turned master watchmaker/inventor, and currently the General Director of TAG Heuer, this single component advances the balance, balance spring, and lever, invented by Dutch mathematician, astronomer, and physicist Christiaan Huygens in the 17th century.

The oscillator is etched from a silicon wafer and performs the functions of some thirty components. This is breaking new ground in the long history of watchmaking. In charac-
teristically bombastic style, the head of watchmaking for LVMH and former CEO of Zenith, Jean-Claude Biver, says of the oscillator, “It’s a regulator that has no hairspring, no balance wheel, needs no oil, where friction does not exist, and is accurate to one second in 24 hours – the most accurate mechanical watch ever. Zenith is the future of tradition. Tradition was Huygens with the pendulum and we are doing the future.”

Improving the sprung balance principle from 1675 is a major achievement and Zenith has deployed the oscillator system in the new ZO 342 calibre, used for the Defy Lab. Zenith has also launched a new case material for this $30,000 conceptual watch called
Aeronith – a composite open pore metal foam that is corrosion-resistant, anti-allergenic and incredibly light. Zenith has created just 10 pieces of the Defy Lab, which are all sold, but this new technology will be rolled out in lower range watches next year.

By: Nick Rice