I Spent a Week Wearing 2024’s Most Fun Dive Watch—Here’s What I Learned

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My torrid affair with the new Zenith Defy Revival A3648 began as love at first sight. The moment I spotted the retro dive watch in April at Geneva’s Watches & Wonders trade show, I couldn’t take my eyes off its peculiar shade of orange. Nothing in nature can even attempt to compare to the shade. It makes me proud to be human—I’d like to see a tangerine tree make something this artificial. From the species that brought you Mountain Dew Live Wire, Carrot Top, and Tang, we now have the A3648.

Last month, the watch arrived at my home for a test drive the same day I tested positive for COVID. Oops. Being the [watch] sicko I am, I vaguely remember stumbling out of the room I was quarantining in when no one else was home to seize the FedEx package that held the Zenith. The watch waited patiently for me to heal up on the nightstand. I’m not going to lie and claim that seeing the vivid orange watch brightened my dark, sickly days—that’s what the Paxlovid is for—but it was certainly a great prize for recovering. When I finally emerged from quarantine six days later, I did so with the A3648 on my wrist.

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So what’s so special about this piece? What drew me to it immediately was its funky good looks. The orange is generously slathered across the bezel, the internal track around the edge of the dial, and the hands. The toothy circular bezel sits atop an angular, stop-sign-shaped case, which gives the watch more muscle than I’d expect from a revival of a model that debuted in 1969—back when everything was a little smaller and daintier.

I’ve been keeping a particularly close eye on Zenith since last January. In 2023, the brand brought back its Defy Revival with a ladder-style bracelet from Gay Frères, a legendary bracelet manufacturer that Rolex acquired in 1998. After so many years of mainly pushing its Chronomaster, I was glad to see something new from Zenith. But earlier this year, the brand proved its flagship model can still learn new tricks. Zenith’s gem-set Chronomaster was one of my favorites from LVMH watch week, a worthy contender in the crowded luxury-sports watch space. But it was the A3648, which costs $7,700, that I really wanted to get my hands on for a true test drive.

The Pop Culture Icon This Watch Belongs On

If I could strap the A3648 on any famous figure, real or imagined, I’d choose Austin Powers’ wrist. The shagadelic superspy is a caricature of the swinging ’60s who isn’t afraid of bright colors—and he needs a watch with a whole lot of mojo. This is Powers’ answer to James Bond’s serious Rolex Submariner.

That isn’t to say that I was suddenly on the market for ascots to match with my new watch. The Zenith’s vibrancy and sportiness best pairs with more casual outfits. Thanks to its 600 meters of water resistance, I never had to worry during a trip to the beach or my son’s bathtime. And while I am a strong advocate for mixing sports watches with formalwear, this is a watch better built for play than black tie.

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