Introducing Zenith DEFY 21 Felipe PantoneBy Bhanu Chopra
Felipe Pantone is an Argentine-Spanish contemporary artist known for his kinetic art, installations, graffiti and design in bold colors, geometrical patterns and optical illusions. Zenith tapped into his talent for creating a limited edition that is a bold piece of wearable mechanical art.
Zenith’s collaboration with Felipe pushed the watchmakers to innovate to meet his vision for this watch by developing new techniques. The multi-colored bridges have a coating to reflect a gradient of metallic rainbow tones. To achieve this rainbow effect, Zenith utilized three-dimensional PVD with silicon particles as a surface treatment on the movement to produce a spectrum of perfectly transitioning colors. The central hour and minute hands take on a distorted look resembling lightning bolts that utilize the same surface treatment for rainbow colors as the movement’s bridges.
Felipe states that “I’m thrilled and humbled to be able to give my personal touch to a watch for the first time, and especially with a manufacture that I deeply admire for its innovation and daringness. From the start, the concept was to transform this spectacular piece of watchmaking into a wearable work of kinetic art, where time and light converge into a single object. I couldn’t be more thrilled with the result.”
Zenith hit a home run, albeit not without some controversy, since collaborating with graffiti artists has been risky business in the past. The reason Zenith’s collaboration works with Felipe Pantone is because they tapped into his specialty of optical illusions and bold colors rather than his graffiti art. They gave him the canvas of a high-beat 1/100th of a second El Primero 21 chronograph, where the movement beats at an extremely high frequency of 360’000 vibrations per hour. Felipe’s bold colors blaze up the detectable frequencies of light as its refracted colors come into play. The net effect is a high frequency rainbow show, or if you are a Pink Floyd fan, a light refracted through a prism while you turn up the volume on Any Colour You Like.
In addition to the rainbow effect, Felipe used his signature moiré optical illusion with thin alternating white and black bands on the top bridges and parts of the dial. His artwork extends to the case with “FP#1” engraved on the four corners of the case, denoting “Felipe Pantone El Primero”, and a grid pattern engraved on the bezel. Felipe also selected a textured rubber strap with a warped grid motif that complements the bezel perfectly.
Dial: Open worked, hour marker and hands coated with “Rainbow” varnish
Case: 44mm; black ceramic
Movement: El Primero 9004 automatic movement; one escapement for the Watch (36,000 VpH – 5 Hz); one escapement for the Chronograph (360,000 VpH – 50 Hz); 50 hours power reserve
Strap: Black rubber
Availability: Limited Edition 100 pieces sold through Zenith boutique and website; available in March 2021
Price: CHF 18,900