Dive Watch Wednesday: Plunging Into the Past With the New Zodiac Sea Wolf

Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver DialIn Spring 2014, Zodiac teased the return of the legendary Zodiac Sea Wolf, a popular and affordable dive watch model from the early ’50s (it was introduced somewhere between 1953 and 1955 and reached a production volume of 10,000 pieces in 1964). Since we don’t normally get officially introduced to watches a year before their commercial re-launch, some changes between the prototypes we showed you last year from our visit to Bienne and the finalized production models were inevitable (such as the different end pieces that are now being used for the bracelet). Being one of the earliest commercial dive watches, we at DiveIntoWatches.com were looking forward to getting our hands on the final product when the collection became available in February 2015. Here’s what we found.

Zodiac obviously understood rather well how to modernize the Sea Wolf without losing too much of its DNA. With about 39 mm in diameter it is still a rather small example of a dive watch, but fortunately still bigger than the 35-mm original (which already was relatively small back then). There are several dial and bezel color versions available, of which the two models featuring an engraved bezel can be regarded as being closest to the initial design (pictured here is the silver dial version). If you prefer the more colorful look of the 60’s and 70’s, we recommend you opt for one of the many acrylic-bezel versions available. And if that is still not “vintage” enough, Zodiac even offers restored original/vintage Zodiacs (with warranty) on its website, which is also a good sign that the team is serious when it comes to bringing a great brand back from a not-so-great recent past.

Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial -reclining

Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Front
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Logo

To be honest, we were rather skeptical at first when it came to the green lume used for the hands and large triangle markers. Fortunately, we think that the end result looks much better than we expected and we’re pleased there was no attempt to create a faux patina. From a functional point of view, the hour and minute hands should certainly be more distinctive (as you will notice in the night shot), the seconds hand should be equipped with lume as well, and the bezel could be upgraded to have more contrast – but all those changes would have meant a huge step away from the original.

Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Date
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Closeup
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Lume

And even though the Sea Wolf is water resistant to 200 meters, equipped with a screw-in crown, and would probably nicely fit under a wetsuit with only 13 mm in thickness, we think its strength lies more in being an ideal everyday watch. We feel the clasp used on the bracelet was maybe a bit too close to the past: it is a rather basic foldover clasp. And even though it is equipped with a short, spring-loaded extension and even though there is absolutely nothing to criticize about how it performed, we actually would have preferred a standard folding clasp instead.

Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Crown
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Clasp 1
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Clasp 2

The caseback is equipped with a see-through crystal, which is clearly a step away from the original. Nevertheless, given the target audience and the modern positioning of Zodiac, there will probably be quite a lot of first-time mechanical buyers opting for the Sea Wolf, and those buyers will appreciate the chance to see the mechanical movement (an STP1-11) at work. Basically, the movement used can be regarded as an alternative to the 2824, and we strongly recommend you read Norma Buchanan’s in-depth article about Fossil’s in-house capabilities and recent acquisitions for more details about it.

Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Movement
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Movement Screws
Zodiac Sea-Wolf - Silver Dial - Movement CU
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