Watch of the Week: The Zenith Defy Inventor Is a Big Leap Forward for Mechanical Watches

When it comes to watches, the exciting new technology you usually hear about is digital: touch screens and haptic feedback, heart rate monitoring and video chatting on your wrist. The tech that powers mechanical watches, on the other hand, hasn’t changed much in centuries. That was until the Zenith Defy Inventor came along. Powered by an innovative Zenith Oscillator movement, the Defy Inventor replaces the traditional sprung balance system with a new ultra-thin silicon element for increased reliability and reduced complexity. If you love the careful craftsmanship of mechanical watches, you need to see this timepiece.

“Staying true to the Defy category’s ‘future of tradition’ tagline,” says Men’s Journal Fashion Editor Kevin Breen, “Zenith once again makes a remarkable push forward with the incorporation of the new single piece Zenith Oscillator.”

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The balance spring has been powering watches since the mid-1600s, when the Dutch astronomer and mathematician Christian Huygens first came up with the idea. A balance spring, also known as a hairspring, uses a small coiled piece of metal to store energy—winding the watch tightens the spring, and then it slowly uncoils to power the watch.

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That’s not how the Zenith Defy Inventor works, though. Instead of a hairspring powering a long train of components (often as many as 30), the Calibre 9100 movement in the Inventor uses a single element made from silicon that vibrates at an ultra-quick 18 Hertz. That’s significantly faster than the 4 Hertz that most watches achieve, and the reduced complexity and faster movement makes for a lighter and more reliable timepiece.

The Inventor is easy on the eyes, too.

“If the mechanical achievements don’t impress you,” Breen says, “I’m sure the gorgeous aesthetic of this timepiece will grab your attention.”

Zenith smartly chose to display its Calibre 9100 within the watch: The inner workings of the movement are visible through openwork on the dial. In addition, the company sourced some unique materials to make this timepiece. It sports a large 44mm titanium case and features a bezel made from Aeronith, an aluminum foam combined with a polymer that’s three times lighter than titanium. Thanks to these lightweight materials, the watch is designed to practically disappear on your wrist, and they also give it a finish unlike any other ticker in your collection (or anyone else’s).

The watch features minute, hour, and second hands, is water resistant up to 330 feet, and comes finished with a bold black and midnight blue strap. It also features a 50-hour power reserve, which guarantees you a comfortable two days of operation before you have to worry about winding it.

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Put this watch on your wrist, and you’ll have proof that not all innovations these days are digital.

[$17,800; zenith-watches.com]

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