It’s no secret that 1969 was a monumental year for the watch industry. From the race to introduce the world’s first automatic chronograph to the placement of the Omega Speedmaster on Neil Armstrong’s wrist as he became the first man to set foot on the moon, watch collectors worldwide knew that 2019 would prove fertile ground for limited editions remembering the significant year. While the Speedmaster, Zenith El Primero, and TAG Heuer Monaco commemorative editions have been covered throughout the year, other timepieces celebrating their golden jubilee deserve a spot in the limelight as well. One such watch is the Zodiac Astrographic, a timepiece that riffed on the space-age aesthetic when it was released in 1969 by highlighting a “mystery dial” as its distinguishing feature.
Mystery dials have long had a place in the watch industry; in fact, brands like Longines and Cartier saw value in these avant-garde displays decades before the Astrographic hit the market. For Zodiac, the design choice provided an opportunity to test the limits of the brand’s artistic sensibilities, while potentially attracting a new audience that saw value in unconventional time displays. When the first models were released, Zodiac marketed them under taglines such as “the most exciting watch you can wear” and “everything ordinary about watches becomes extraordinary in the Astrographic,” (see vintage ad below).
For 2019, Zodiac has approached the watch’s anniversary with care. The brand has aligned its release along the same lines as the first one. Where the 1969 watches were partially released in celebration of the moon landing, the new model is meant to “celebrate the future of space exploration” with a red seconds dot that references America’s long-held goal of reaching Mars.
Zodiac’s new Astrographic keeps many of the primary features seen in the vintage models, yet has clearly been updated for a contemporary audience. The two limited-edition watches that are now available feature an improved curved watch face and floating disks in lieu of the traditional dial-hands. Stacked transparent disks are moved by outer gear trains and printed with rectangles to resemble hands, the indicators producing an ethereal “floating” appearance on the dial — thus earning the “mystery dial” designation.
The two different colorways, steel with a blue dial and gold-PVD with a matching dial, are sized at 40 by 43 mm with an integrated bracelet and a mix of brushing and polishing on the oblong case design. Inside the watch is the automatic STP 3-13 movement that is made by Fossil, Zodiac’s parent company. This caliber features a date in the unique position of 12 o’clock and offers up a 44-hour power reserve. Limited to 182 pieces in each colorway, the new Zodiac Astrographic is priced at $1,295 and is availabe now via Zodiac online and at specific retailers.