The Resurgence of An Icon: Zodiac’s Sea Wolf

A couple years back if you asked me to talk about the Zodiac Sea Wolf, everything would have been in past tense save for one model I think they made in some sort of black PVD with a quartz movement. I could have gone on about the brand’s history, the history of the Sea Wolf line itself and its importance in the history of diver’s watches, etc., but conversation about Zodiac’s current state of the collection would have been short and depressing.

That all changed when Fossil realized they had a sleeping asset in Zodiac that had been severely underutilized in recent decades. Zodiac has released a number of new Super Sea Wolf models in the past year, most famously introducing the ZO9265. I had been looking for the original vintage one (that this model is based off of) in great condition for a long time, and even as strict as I am about buying originals instead of reissues, this new watch tempted me more than any other had before. Unfortunately I waited too long to pull the trigger and Zodiac’s limited supply has already been bought up.

It’s doesn’t exactly house a Lange movement, but at least this was a Sea Wolf that Zodiac once again cared about: meaning that it finally had a mechanical movement inside it again. Fossil’s STP (Swiss Technology Production), Fossil’s answer to ETA’s reduction in output to non-Swatch Group brands (also as a potential competitor to ETA), is the manufacturer for the new Zodiac movements. In that sense these new watches actually do sort of have in-house movements.

Another interesting model is the ZO9269 (also known as the “watermelon” due to its orange, not red funny enough though, and foam green coloring). This model is still available and is not part of a limited run the way the 9265 was. It’s an extremely unique color scheme where I can’t think of a single other watch that’s similar to it. Definitely worth a look if you want a very unique looking watch at around the $1,000-$1,500 price point.

Speaking of price, the average price for the new Super Sea Wolf collection is right around $1,300. While it will have its critics who will say that it shouldn’t be priced above $1,000, I feel that the watch is priced perfectly for the time being. It gives Zodiac a product that is attainable for many, while still beginning to price themselves higher to eventually compete with some of the more established players as Fossil continues to improve upon the Zodiac line. As long as Fossil continues to focus on their movement development and the overall resurgence of Zodiac, I can fairly comfortably say that we can expect some Zodiac watches around the $3/4,000 price point and a strong product that should beat Tag Heuer and possibly challenge entry level Omega and Breitling watches within the next decade. Marketing will be a completely separate issue and will largely determine the sustained success of Zodiac, but as long as they can advertise to the right customer base properly they should be able to compete -on a smaller scale- but nonetheless compete.

At 40mm the Super Sea Wolf is a very good size… Zodiac didn’t go too big the way many modern Breitling watches are or too small (~37mm) which would have scared off many of the mainstream buyers. Both Zodiac’s Sea Wolf and Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms were released in 1953, these were the world’s first two dedicated dive watches. The Rolex Submariner wouldn’t be released until a year later in 1954. More than many watches out there, the Sea Wolf line really left a mark in watch history. I really love this revitalized line of watches, because it’s a genuinely good first attempt at making Zodiac relevant again. They put out a decent quality newer version of an iconic watch, without ignoring its roots. The watch will become more and more competitive with some of the bigger brands as time progresses I think, but for now it really is a hidden gem that flies under the radar for many.

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