If you’re a watch fan, you’ve likely experienced this for yourself: the daily checking of Chrono24, Instagram, and YouTube to gaze upon your new dream timepiece. Saving the best photos on Instagram, watching and rewatching the same YouTube reviews, and scanning for any new listings online. We are very good at making a particular watch the object of all our desires.
Unfortunately, it can sometimes be a sobering experience when you finally get the watch on your wrist. That’s exactly what happened to me, so I wanted to share my experience and what I’ve learned to help make sure you avoid making the same mistake – or at least earn myself some empathy from fellow watch lovers.
Playing it Safe: The Rolex Datejust 36 mm
My personal watch collection admittedly has a pretty strong focus. Well, let’s call a spade a spade: My collection is rather boring. I’ve really honed in on steel sports watches like the Rolex Datejust. True to the saying, “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” I own several versions of the Datejust, both modern and vintage. Hey, at least there is some variation in production year – very brave, I know. But for me, the Rolex Datejust is the watch that best suits my lifestyle, attire, and overall image.
It’s sporty yet elegant, prestigious, retains its value well, not very controversial, and pretty inconspicuous, but still has enough detail to stay interesting over a longer period of time. Those are just a few of the attributes I like about the model.
Then, one dreary day, I took a fresh look at my collection and thought, is this it? Will I remain a boring Datejust collector forever more, or is there something else out there for me? Spurred on fellow watch enthusiasts who yawned wearily at my collection, I went out in search of something unexpected, the watch that would prove I was more than just a Datejust owner.
The Object of My Desire: The Zenith Defy Classic Black Ceramic
Thus, I arrived at the Zenith Defy Black Ceramic. I thought to myself, is there any watch that is less like the Rolex Datejust? It’s in a 41-mm case made from a block of black ceramic and mounted on a rubber strap. Oh, and I can’t fail to mention the skeletonized dial, which reveals the very flat and well-made in-house Zenith Elite caliber beating at 28,800 vph (4 Hz) within. The watch is extremely lightweight thanks to the material choice, but the all-black look gives it a certain weightiness and presence.
Prices for a pre-owned Defy Classic Black Ceramic fall around the $5,500 to $6,000 mark and are, therefore, not too far off vintage Datejust prices and/or the model’s official list price from authorized dealers. It goes without saying that this watch certainly has a lot going for it on paper. I meticulously read reviews and searched listings for several months, imagining the watch on my wrist, especially with more causal attire on low-key days. When I came across a good deal, I jumped.
The Let-Down: Not Everything Is as Appears in the Photos
I unpacked it, slipped it on my wrist, and immediately snapped a photo to share with my friends. I had to hand it to myself, the Zenith Defy Black Ceramic looked just as sexy on my wrist as it had in all those saved Instagram photos from my feed. One word came to mind: badass.
But after only a few hours, I noticed that the crown left marks on my wrist. Despite measuring 41 mm across, the watch is very compact and flat, but it just had a different feel than my 36-mm Datejust. In addition, I found the clasp too sharp – it left several marks on my forearm as I moved it around. It soon dawned on me that this just wasn’t at all comparable to wearing a 36-mm stainless steel watch.
So, my first tip is: Ask yourself whether the size and proportions of the watch differ too much from the other watches in your collection.
I also came to the realization that I wasn’t really sure what to wear this watch with, or for what sort of occasion. That may sound superficial, and not every collector places the same emphasis on this aspect of a watch, but for me, watches are much more than just the technology behind the dial – something you can certainly appreciate with the Zenith Defy Classic.
The watch is too sporty for business situations due to its rubber strap and all-black aesthetic. Likewise, it’s not really suitable for fancier weekend occasions or special events, which are typically great opportunities to wear a model that otherwise gets very little wrist time. I have my Apple Watch for truly sporty endeavors like working out or spending a day at the beach. Plus, the Defy Classic isn’t even really suitable for swimming or diving because it’s only waterproof to 50 m (164 ft).
Thus, my second tip is: Make sure you honestly and objectively question what purpose this new watch will serve and whether it will replace another watch in your personal lineup.
My third tip may be a little less tangible, but some of you may be able to understand what I mean when I say that a watch should match your character and the overall image you want to convey to the outside world. After all, a luxury watch ultimately makes a statement about its wearer.
The Zenith Defy Classic has a cool techie vibe, but that’s not really me – neither when it comes to watches nor cars. In my opinion, the watch has a very extroverted presence that’s way too sporty for any outfit beyond a T-shirt or sweater.
At the end of the day, to me, a watch is a very personal item that should reflect your character and the qualities you value most.
This article is not intended to be an open letter against the Zenith Defy Classic, but rather a reminder that staying true to your own style isn’t necessarily a bad thing – even if that means your collection is a little less exciting than you sometimes might wish. I would recommend the Zenith Defy Classic to anyone who is confident that the watch suits their collection and lifestyle. No question, the watch is excitingly different, but it’s just not for me.