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Zenith Defy Skyline Review

10 seconds to perfection

Octagons and watches go together like peas and carrots. A welcome break from the smoother, more circular case lines most of us are used to, octagonal-shaped watches bring an instant feeling of nostalgia and sportiness. The Zenith Defy Skyline is a classic sports watch through and through, and coupled with its octagonal-shaped case is a faceted bezel that adds to the look. 

The Defy Skyline has a host of fascinating features under the hood, and with its technical prowess, and artistic finesse, it is a watch that exudes horological perfection. Let’s jump in.

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On the Wrist

When I received the review sample of the Defy Skyline and took it out of the box, I was confident this would be too big for my 6.75″ (17cm) wrist. At 41mm wide, this watch has a lot of dial, and the integrated bracelet/strap can make for a watch that wears larger than its dimensions. Somehow this is kept in check while on the wrist, and I was surprised at how comfortable it was. This is likely due to the mindbending-for-a-41mm-watch lug-to-lug of 46.2mm. Most 41mm watches have lug-to-lugs approaching 50mm and beyond. 

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The only point of discomfort you may experience with the Defy Skyline is the butterfly clasp; it either fits or doesn’t. There are no microadjusts to fix an in-between size. However, Zenith includes a rubber strap which fits the bill for this watch. Although I’m sure watch enthusiasts would groan unrelentingly if this didn’t come on a bracelet, the rubber strap is how the watch should be sold. 

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The Defy Skyline is a touch thick for a sports watch at 12mm. We get the slightly choker size because of the El Primero movement hammering away inside, but it’s worth it. I love tech that does something cooler than everyone else, and this watch does just such a thing. Rather than slapping on a standard small seconds subdial, Zenith did it in the most Zenith way possible. The small seconds is a 10-second subdial that is essentially part of a mechanism brought over from the Zenith 3600 El Primero movement on their chronographs. Zenith claims this has never been done before, and I’m inclined to believe them. The hand whips around the subdial, making a complete rotation every, you guessed it, 10 seconds. Watching it was captivating, and I couldn’t take my eyes off it every time I checked the time. 

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Zenith Defy Skyline Specs

Case Width




Case Thickness




Lug Width




Water Resistance



Integrated Bracelet & Rubber Strap






Zenith 3620



Dial Details

The elephant in the room with the Defy Skyline is the dial pattern. Zenith calls it a black-toned sunray-pattern, but I would simply call it a star pattern. The embossed stars cut deep into the dial, allowing them to cast a significant shadow into those cuts. The effect this creates is captivating, but I never found it too distracting when checking the time. 

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The partially skeletonized hands are large and make for easy reading. They complement the equally large applied markers, and everything is filled with tons of lume. The hand on the subdial also has lume, which makes it even more fun to watch at night. 

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The rest of the dial layout is straightforward, without any unnecessary distractions. Zenith’s unmistakable logo and star are at 12 o’clock, and the only other text on the dial is SWISS MADE at 6. The date window at 3 o’clock is there to please the crowd who can’t live without one, but I can’t help but think how clean this dial would look without it. 

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Case & Straps

The casework on the Defy Skyline is nothing short of impressive. Meticulous brushing and polishing with crisp lines and chamfers are precisely what should be expected from a Swiss giant, and the Defy delivers. The brushing’s grain is perfect for catching reflecting light and throwing it back at you in all the brilliance you can imagine. This effect is further amplified by the chamfers on the case and bracelet. It makes everything pop that much more. 

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The screwdown crown is big, and although it isn’t heavily knurled, the grip it provides is perfect. Zenith’s star is embossed on the crown, and the crown’s overall shape complements the Defy’s case shape. 

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The Zenith 3620 movement is visible through the exhibition caseback. The movement isn’t overly decorated, but the blue silicone escapement wheel and star-shaped rotor add all the flourish you need.

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I spoke about the bracelet and strap above; they’re both excellent. I found that the bracelet articulated well and draped around my wrist effortlessly. The rubber strap was my favorite option, and I got a better fit. 

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Although this is an integrated design, Zenith made swapping straps easy. A small button on the back of the case releases the strap currently on the watch. The bracelet and strap have two hooks that lock into position when pushed into the case. Not only do they make a satisfying click when seated, but it is quick and easy.

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Final Thoughts

The full-size Defy Skyline is a technical masterpiece. Despite being large on paper, it wears well and has the most fun subdial in the business. Although you can’t deny the obvious correlation to the Royal Oak, this is a watch you can actually get, like right now, and for MSRP or possibly even less. Something is to be said about a brand that makes cool watches and doesn’t artificially limit the supply or play games with you to get one.

Check out more Zenith reviews at The Watch Clicker here

Check out the Zenith website here

More Images of the Zenith Defy Skyline

Comments 1
  1. I think, with this watch, flawless technical performance, very nice looks, quality and great finishing, also in the bracelet, you get very much value for the investment. Especially when comparing with the too much hyped competition, where it is not realistic at all what you pay for…. Great watch and unfortunately probably undervalued. Can easily compete with AP and Rolex

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