Modern-day Zodiac watches occupy an interesting space in the watch world. Currently under the umbrella of the Fossil Group — otherwise known for its entry level “fashion brand” watches — Zodiac was dismissed for some time as being just another heritage reboot by a generally disliked conglomerate. Over the last seven or so years that perspective has changed dramatically, as the brand has been reaching deep into its archives to revive an assortment of interesting references.
The appeal these days is effectively three-fold. Aesthetically, Zodiac is winning fans by blurring the lines of what a reissue can look like. Rather than solely trying to build faithful re-editions of dive watches the brand first made in the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s, it instead gives each reference a definitively modern and playful spin. A look at the Super Sea Wolf collection quickly reveals a pleasant mix of historically accurate pieces alongside bold, bright, and colourful editions that would never have seen production back in the day. The newest Super Sea Wolf Pro-Diver Titanium is a perfect example of this, sporting a seafoam green luminescent bezel, hands, and indices with bright orange accents.
One of the concerns with anything made by a fashion brand conglomerate is the overall quality and reliability of the product — once again something Zodiac has firmly put to bed. Speaking from experience, as someone with no less than three of the brand’s watches in my own collection, neither reliability nor accuracy has been a point of concern throughout ownership.
Rather than relying entirely on movements from Sellita, Soprod, or ETA (as most brands in the price bracket would), the Fossil Group has invested heavily in its own movement production. With Swiss Technology Production (STP) under its ownership, the brand is able to offer watches with self-winding mechanical movements that tick all of the boxes for “Swiss Made” status. What’s more, you’ll occasionally see references like the Pro-Diver Titanium where the brand opted for an upgrade to a COSC chronometer certified movement from Sellita. At present, STP’s calibers are fitted in about 70% of the offering, with the intent of growing that with additional volume and complications over time.
With both the mechanics and aesthetics firmly covered, the last remaining variable is pricing. Given where the brand is landing in the — pardon the pun — very saturated category of dive watches, Zodiac lands on what we would still call the entry-level end of the spectrum. We’re not talking the few hundred dollar Seiko 5 price bracket; the Super Sea Wolf collection runs in the range of around $1,500 to $3,000 depending on the model, with the COSC-certified Pro-Diver Titanium at the top of the model range.
This pricing strategy puts Zodiac in direct competition with the likes of Oris, the mid-tier Seiko lineup, and a host of smaller upstarts battling it out in the dive watch category. That said, having seen and handled more than my fair share of new dive watches over the last decade or so, the Super Sea Wolf collection holds its own and easily justifies the price of entry. As with many categories, the decision then becomes one of aesthetics, and given the diversity found in the collection, there’s really something for everyone.