Zenith Drops the Defy Extreme Collab with DJ Carl Cox

The second, more understated collaboration between the English DJ and the Swiss watchmaker.

A watchmaker best known for its El Primero chronograph, Zenith has recently joined forces with English DJ Carl Cox to craft a limited edition of their flagship, high-tech chronograph watch, the Defy Extreme.


As the second installment of their collaboration, the new Defy Extreme Carl Cox stands apart from the typical Extreme series with its subtle styling, featuring an old-school two-tone case in sandblasted steel and yellow gold. Naturally, the dial is replete with details that pay homage to Mr. Cox’s DJ background.

Steel and gold

The Defy Extreme is essentially a larger, bolder, and sportier iteration of the brand’s signature Defy 21, a 50 Hz chronograph watch capable of precisely measuring time down to 1/100th of a second. The Extreme retains all the exceptional attributes of the Defy 21 while sporting a more robust case with an extreme (pun intended) 12-sided bezel and angular pushers. It has also been upgraded with improved water resistance, now rated at 200 meters.


As a result, the standard Extreme embraces a thoroughly contemporary design, often adopting an all-black style. In contrast, the Defy Extreme Carl Cox takes an unusually subtle approach, with a sand-blasted steel case and bracelet. The addition of the gold bezel introduces a touch of retro luxury to the watch. For those seeking a Defy Extreme case with a twist, this limited edition is a good choice.

The Defy Extreme Carl Cox in two-tone yellow gold and steel

DJ’s style

Turning to the dial is where the music-related details truly shine. The minute track, for instance, comprises dots that evoke the stroboscopic effect of a turntable playing an old-school vinyl or phonograph record. A light on the turntable flashes at the side of the turning portion, and the dotted markings indicate the rotational speed, which, in turn, reflects the tempo of the music being played. When the central, larger dots appear stationary, it indicates that the tempo is correct. Here, large and small dots have been cleverly placed on the edge of the dial to give the watch a more intriguing appearance.


On the topic of phonographs, the triple registers are designed to resemble a vinyl record, with a concentric guilloche pattern and hollowed-out center. Notably, the register at nine o’clock subtly incorporates Carl Cox’s logo without disrupting the overall dial balance while conserving space. 


One last music-related detail is the power-reserve indicator at 12 o’clock. It’s a power reserve indicator for the chronograph functions, which is independent of time-telling. The scale has been printed with “on” and “off” like a machine, once again paying homage to Mr. Cox’s background.


Although not directly related to music, the gold-plated hands and markers on the dial significantly enhance its visual appearance. They create a strong contrast with the black dial and introduce an additional layer of color to the watch that would have otherwise appeared too austere with just silver and black.

50 Hz chronograph

While the appearance of the Defy Extreme Carl Cox is impressive, the most remarkable aspect of the watch is its movement. The El Primero 9004 inside it is essentially two movements in one – a standard 5 Hz automatic movement for timekeeping and an independent 50 Hz movement for the chronograph function.


The chronograph relies on a separate barrel for power, as well as a distinct gear train and escapement. Its 50 Hz frequency allows the chronograph seconds hand to beat 100 times per second, enabling it to precisely track intervals as small as 1/100th of a second (assuming one can react that quickly while operating the chronograph). This 50 Hz movement makes it a true 1/100th seconds chronograph, a feat Zenith proudly displays with a “lightning” seconds hand that completes a full rotation around the dial every second when the chronograph is in operation.

Zenith Defy Extreme Carl Cox Ref. 06.9100.9004/21.I001 Specs and Price

Movement: El Primero 9004; automatic; 50 hours power reserve
Functions: Hours, minutes, seconds, chronograph with 1/100th seconds, and chronograph power reserve indicator
Case: 45 mm; steel and 18k yellow gold; water resistant to 200 m
Strap: Steel bracelet with additional black rubber and Velcro straps
Price: USD 30,100
Limited edition: 100 pieces


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