Although chronographs have a long history of association with motorsports, watch brands have recently set their sights on more sustainable endeavors. Zenith manages to cover both angles at once by sponsoring Extreme E, an electric car racing league. The Defy Extreme E Island X Prix Edition is the second in a series created in partnership with Extreme E, and some of the watch’s elements are even made from recycled materials from the tires in previous races.
The races, which take place in remote environments, are conducted using a fleet of fully electric SUVs called Odyssey 21s. The cars are built for speed—they can launch from 0-62 in 4.5 seconds at gradients of up to 130 percent—and the watch exudes that sense of raciness. For starters, it contains Zenith’s (and the industry’s) fastest production movement, the El Primero 9004, which displays 1/100th of a second measurements. The movement is the star of Zenith’s stable of high-frequency movements, with two escapements beating independently: one at 5Hz (36,000 vph) for the timekeeping, and 50Hz (360,000 vph) for the chronograph function.
The most recent race took part on the Italian island of Sardinia, where temperatures in the high 90s were recorded over the weekend. The orange accents on the watch were meant to evoke the scorching heat, including the indexes and the orange Cordura-effect inlay on the rubber strap. Other races have taken place in the deserts of Saudi Arabia; the sands and salt beds of Dakar, Senegal; and the Arctic glaciers of Greenland. Part of the league’s goal is to shed light on climate change issues surrounding these and other environmentally sensitive locales.
Because Extreme E is all about sustainability, the straps are made with materials of recycled Continental CrossContact tires that were used in Extreme E’s first season races. The case’s lid coating is made from recycled E-grip tires, while the plate covering is made from parts of an Extreme E Season 1 racing tarpaulin. Several components of the cars themselves are made of niobium with makes for stronger, lighter and more sustainable cars, with better energy efficiency.
The watch is openworked, large (45mm) and sporty looking, with a carbon fiber case, crown and chrono pushers, which have a light matrix running through them. The pusher protectors and the signature 12-sided bezel are made of micro-blasted titanium. The movement is visible through the sapphire display back, emblazoned with the Island X Prix logo. The Defy Extreme E Island X Prix Edition comes with two extra straps, in black rubber and black velcro. It is limited to 20 pieces priced at $27,100 each.