Counterbalancing Zenith’s vintage reissue watches is a side of the brand that’s purely contemporary, technical and edgy. We’re talking cutting-edge technologies and materials, a lot of angular facets and, yes, many skeletonized dials. (In a skeletonized dial, parts of the face have been cut away to reveal the movement beneath.) It’s the Defy collection, and this is the base upon which Australian website Time+Tide has built a new limited edition collaboration watch with Zenith — but how do you spice up an already quite spicy watch?

Called the “Night Surfer,” the Time+Tide edition is based specifically on the Defy Classic. One of the collection’s most (relatively) accessible lines, the Classic offers only time and date rather than the more complicated and expensive chronograph functions that Zenith is famous for and that feature on many Defy watches. Simple functionality, however, doesn’t mean a simple watch: The cases are refined and complex, often rendered in exotic materials, and they contain in-house movements that have been finished and skeletonized for your viewing pleasure.

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The Zenith Defy Classic Skeleton Night Surfer Time+Tide Edition watch

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Another feature common in the Defy collection is a skeletonized dial with a stylized star shape to reference the brand’s logo. The Time+Tide edition maintains all of these core traits but tweaks them in ways that offer something new and different: Firstly, the 41mm case (along with the bracelet) is in dark gray titanium, in a fully bead-blasted matte finish. The muted texture of the case should provide a nice contrast against which the blue can stand out.

Look closely and you’ll notice that the dial — or what’s left of it — isn’t a uniform blue but rather a gradient that fades vertically from dark to light. The concept is said to be inspired by dusk (as seen by Australian night surfers), while the Zenith star logo is rendered in solid Super-LumiNova (“lume”) to reference the Southern Hemisphere’s “evening star.” With hands and indices also featuring plenty of lume, this Zenith Defy model is highly legible despite the distracting skeletonized dial.

Many of these features appear for the first time for the brand or the collection — and are of course unique in combination. “As a watch journalist, the very words ‘Limited Edition’, can bring on a sigh that starts deep in your soul,” says Time+Tide founder Andrew McUtchen, but “we’re hoping to counter this fatigue” with exciting watches like the Night Surfer. The Zenith Defy Classic “Night Surfer” Time+Tide Edition is limited to only 100 examples and is available from the Time+Tide shop or Zenith boutiques for a price of $9,000.

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