Earlier this year, Zenith announced its Zenith Defy El Primero Boutique-Exclusive Limited Edition. It’s a cool modern watch, and an astounding technical achievement: the Defy El Primero 21 beats at a frequency of 360,000 vph (50 Hz), ten times that of its El Primero predecessor, enabling 1/100th of a second precision. But still, I didn’t think much of it — brands try to do boutique exclusives all the time to get people into their stores. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
The Zenith Defy was originally launched back in 1967, but Zenith revamped the line in 2017 (thanks, Jean-Claude Biver). Since then, it’s become a staple of Zenith’s collection and a platform for some of its most innovative experiments and concept watches.
Meanwhile, Farfetch is a leader in the luxury ecommerce space. Not only was it one of the first to truly do luxury online, launching in 2007, but it continues to push the industry with innovation and experimentation. For example, back in June when Facebook announced its Libra cryptocurrency thing, Farfetch was named as a founding member. Listen, no one really knows what Facebook’s aim is here, but if it really blows up, Farfetch wants to be a part of it. Smart move.
It’s this tendency to be on the cutting edge that made me pause when I saw that Farfetch had collaborated with LVMH-owned Zenith to create a Zenith Defy Classic exclusively for Farfetch.
The Zenith x Farfetch Defy Classic takes everything modern about the Defy and turns it up to 11. Ceramic white case, skeleton dial to show off Zenith’s Elite 670 SK caliber can be seen, which beats at 28,800vph, a modern but manageable 41mm case. As a side note, am I the only one who feels like white watches, and white ceramic watches are a big trend right now? The Chanel J12 line, a certain white ceramic concept Audemars Piguet from John Mayer’s collection — I could go on.
Zenith acknowledged that enhancing its online presence is a key element of the brand’s strategy going forward, and its partnership with Farfetch is critical to that strategy. The Farfetch exclusive Defy Classic is limited to just 25 pieces, so is more an experiment than a full-on collection, but I would bet there’s more to come from the partners.
Movement: Elite 670-SK automatic (skeletonized)
50 hour power reserve
Sapphire case back
10 ATM water resistance
Taupe rubber strap
I’ve implored brands to experiment with and explore online sales channels in new ways, so now I’ll applaud Zenith for doing just that. As online ecommerce platforms gain credibility and become “brands” in their own right, old school brands will have to find ways to partner with them to gain distribution, especially with the new, younger generation that knows nothing but shopping online. Nowadays, watch brands can brands gain cache and name recognition just by being on Farfetch’s site (or Mr. Porter, Needsupply, etc.) and sitting next to offerings from Off-White, Louis Vuitton, and whatever else is selling. Streetwear is having something of a moment, and luxury is trying to ride that wave; watch brands that can align with that aesthetic can make some serious money while the trend stays hot. The Defy has become Zenith’s platform for all things modern.
In a recent interview, Chrono24’s CEO said it takes about 36 touch points before someone buys a watch on its website. The number has to be higher for a brand if it’s thinking about the entire sales funnel, from a customer first learning of the brand to finally purchasing a watch. Seeing that brand while you’re shopping on Farfetch is just one more touch point to validate its status as a “luxury” item worth owning.
A slick, modern watch with a modest price point is a smart, strategic move by Zenith to gain an online foothold.