Last year, Zenith an­nounced that it had rein­vented the me­chan­i­cal wrist­watch. While that might have been over-egging it slightly, the Le Lo­cle-based brand had man­aged to re­con­fig­ure one of the most fun­da­men­tal mech­a­nisms in watch­mak­ing. In 1675, Dutch horol­o­gist Chris­ti­aan Huy­gens pre­sented his sprung bal­ance prin­ci­ple to the French Academy of Sciences in clock-form – and since then all me­chan­i­cal watches have re­lied on the force of a coiled spring to drive a gear train via a pal­let fork and an es­cape wheel. Pack­aged in­side Zenith’s ‘Defy Lab’, how­ever, is a reg­u­lat­ing sys­tem that does away with these com­po­nents and in­stead in­cor­po­rates some 30 in­di­vid­ual parts into a sin­gle cir­cu­lar disc. As there are fewer com­po­nents rub­bing to­gether fric­tion is al­most neg­li­gi­ble. Etched from sil­i­con, the move­ment is also im­per­vi­ous to mag­netic fields. The re­sult is a watch that Zenith says will re­main ac­cu­rate to within one sec­ond across its 70-hour power re­serve. If true – it’s yet to be proven – that would make the ‘Defy Lab’ the most pre­cise me­chan­i­cal wrist­watch ever cre­ated. Cue Zenith walk­ing away with the prize for Best In­no­va­tion at last year’s Geneva Watch­mak­ing Grand Prix – the ‘Os­cars of the watch world’.

2018 VER­SION Zenith ‘Defy El Primero 21’, $17,900

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