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Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Fossil Group-owned Zodiac watches has been making a very impressive comeback over the last few years with cool timepieces that embrace Zodiac’s rich history of design and style. What that means for you is that Zodiac watches are back to being serious timepieces for watch people – and the best news is that they also deliver a solid value. Today, I’d like to review the modern Zodiac Astrographic that is a remake of the classic Astrographic that Zodiac produced originally back in 1970.

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Zodiac Astrographic exists as part of a class of “mystery dial” watches that have origins going back over 100 years – probably a lot longer. Back in the Art Deco era, Cartier produced a series of mystery clocks which had hands which appeared to float on the dial. This effect was produced by putting the hands on transparent discs. In 2013, Cartier even produced a watch known as the Rotonde de Cartier Mystery (hands-on here) which produced a similar effect. Cartier, of course, is by no means the only company to have done this, and mystery dial wrist watches are an uncommon, but fun treat for collectors and those who like a little style in their watches. What makes the Zodiac Astrographic unique as a mystery dial watch is that it is a sporty one, whereas most are a bit more formal in their design.

In fact, come to think of it, I can’t come up with too many other sport-style mystery dial watches produced today – Zodiac might have cornered this market. Of course, the risk with any mystery dial watch is legibility – which I am happy to report is not an issue here. The various styles of the modern Zodiac Astrographic all have the hour, minute, and seconds hands (the latter is just a moving red dot on the dial), each on their own transparent disc. These discs are connected in the middle of the dial and spin moving the hands around as you would normally expect – only they don’t have a visual connection. There is a small black dot applied to the sapphire crystal over this central connection point to complete the “mystery experience.”

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Even with the hands floating, they are still quite legible with both the hour and minute hands as well as the hour markers being applied with luminant. That means good legibility in the dark. I think that the cleverness of the Zodiac Astrographic dial is offering a unique design that is clearly a “mystery dial,” but offers the readability people expect from a daily wear sports-style watch. Each of the various dial versions of the Zodiac Astrographic changes the colors of the hands and face a bit. I find that all of them are rather easy to live with but liked this particular Zodiac Astrographic ref. ZO6601 with the silver dial that matches the case nicely.

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

To create the dial effect, the face of the watch is set down a bit with the outer dial being on a raised plane. Even though the case is more angular in its shape, the dial is round. The dial is also symmetrical in its design with a date window placed over the 6 o’clock hour indicator. With legibility and some welcome retro sporty style, I have to give the Zodiac Astrographic’s dial high marks for very successfully achieving its goals. If you want something a bit more unique, there are other dial colors in styles such as gray as well as the lovely blue and red of the Astrographic ref. ZO6603.
Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

On the wrist, the Zodiac Astrographic is not a small watch but wears comfortably. The “vertical TV screen” style case is 39mm wide by 45mm tall. The case is also 12mm thick – but visually looks a bit thicker. You also have a nice heft to the steel case and bracelet – which is produced from thick steel links. Always a fan of tapered bracelets, I applaud Zodiac retaining this important element of the Zodiac Astrographic’s style – which also tends to the wearing comfort. Those looking for a less-than-conservative yet immediately familiar design will appreciate the Zodiac Astrographic whose core theme and concept has aged surprisingly well.


Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

With 100 meters of water resistance, the case also has an exhibition caseback allowing for a view of the automatic mechanical movement inside. This movement is actually produced by the Fossil group – who owns a movement manufacture location in Switzerland. The movement is designated as the Swiss Made STP 1-11, and I believe it is functionally equivalent to the ETA 2824, with about 42 hours of power reserve operating at 4Hz. For the money, I am further impressed by the quality of the decoration on the movement which includes handsome machined perlage polishing. As I said, for the value-price of the Zodiac Astrographic, this is an impressively suitable automatic movement, and I think Zodiac made the right decision by letting you view it through the rear of the case.

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

For the money, you get a lot of nice little detailing all over the watch in areas where you’d see a lot cheaper options in some competitor watches. The Zodiac logo on the crown is offered in high-quality relief, as is the logo on the deployant clasp buckle. Rather than some cheap etching, you get a nicely relief-engraved part which adds to a high-end feel of the watch. Speaking of the bracelet, I also want to offer appreciation for the small micro-adjust holes in the deployant that allow for a more precise fit.

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

To a degree, a lot of these little details are to be expected because Zodiac is anything but a small brand, given its ownership. The company has the resources to offer some great value with the parent company’s manufacturing strength and economy of scale. In many instances, you see similar values in brands under the Swatch Group such as Hamilton, Tissot, and Longines. People looking for a lot for their money can count on brands like this, and now, you can add Zodiac to the list. A quick view (today) of Zodiac’s website offers the ability to survey the Heritage Collection families; the Sea Wolf, Sea Dragon, and Astrographic. Each includes a mechanical automatic movement as well as a vintage inspired design from Zodiac’s archives. With this base, I am confident in the brand’s ability to appeal not only to the mainstream, but to serious watch lovers looking for something that has their considerations in mind.

Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews Zodiac Astrographic Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Currently, each of the Zodiac Astrographic models are limited editions – with some models being exclusively available at vendor partners Zodiac has selected. I am happy to see what the brand is doing and will continue to enjoy that Astrographic as a unique, but comfortable daily wear. Price for this Zodiac Astrographic reference ZO6601 watch is $1,195 and it is limited to 5,000 pieces. Prices are similar for the other models and a bit more for the PVD-gold coated model.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Zodiac
>Model: Astrographic
>Price: $1,195
>Size: 45mm
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Sport watch lover looking for a great daily wear with a retro character.
>Best characteristic of watch: Solid value with fun dial that also happens to be legible. Comfortable on the wrist as well.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Heavy case might be a bit much for some, but minor quibble.

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  • I like that mystery hands but don’t care for the overall styling. But then I don’t usually care much for 70s inspired retro designs. The price point is very fair and I hope we see more Fossil group watches using the STP movements (which Fossil group makes in Italian speaking Lugano, Switzerland if memory serves).

  • Ulysses31

    I’ll say it again, I think this is a cool-looking watch, especially the case shape.  It looks robust.  I would want a better quality clasp at this price though.  Pressed and folded steel doesn’t really match up with the obvious high quality of the bracelet and case.

  • Jimxxx

    Reminiscent of the GO Senator Seventies

  • Not sure if want…? Interesting though.

  • Humafred

    aBlogtoWatch ZodiacWatches Très belle revue:)

  • DanW94

    This is a really nice movement. I also read online that it meets COSC standards. (Don’t know how reliable that is though).Time will tell if the Fossil group can make inroads into the competitive entry to mid level Swiss mechanical market while maintaining their designation as an Asian quartz fashion watch company.  Interesting style on this watch,  even if it’s not exactly to my liking. .

  • thornwood36

    Love it. Nice chunky watch. I  hate saying retro , as it makes me feel old, but I love the style I think the floating hands and second hand are super cool and look great. The screws are unnecessary on the face and would look cleaner without them. I would be well happy with this..

  • Alex Ethier

    That thing is wild! Transparent plates with decals is my guess about the hands.

  • ripshop

    That’s about as mundane as it gets

  • Nice.

  • Neil C

    Time for a square watch!

  • DeltronZero

    not my style but I think it looks clean and I like the lume

  • WillyChu

    That’s a very nice tapered, brushed bracelet.

  • CG

    quite good modernist update to this classic but give me that Zodiac Blue anytime as on the SST….. Fossil over 1K? Gonna be a hard sell at Fossil counters/displays for the long term… I’m sure there will be a substantial price drop at some point. Make it like the old blue SST and I’d definitely buy it.

  • bichondaddy

    Nice review….but…considering the price point one could pick up a Zodiac in the “good ol’ days”….it might be tough to convince customers from years gone buy to fork out $1,100 for these.  
    This one is not my style…but it’s nice to see the brand resurrected!!

  • nateb123

    Own a few Zodiacs and was always a fan of the Astrographics and chunky 70s Olympos styles.  I think this updates the original design quite well and addresses the lack of quality that stamped bracelets from back in the day are inevitably guilty of.  But I think I want one of the Sea Wolf remakes first because originals are getting very hard to find at a reasonable price.

    What I really love about what Fossil is doing is that they’re trying to get the brand’s heritage out there by buying, servicing and reselling good condition vintage Zodiacs.  Definitely approve of getting the originals out there to get people interested and up the cachet of a brand which doesn’t have much despite an impressive past.

  • spiceballs

    Not at all familiar with the “floating hands” (and the hand set, particularly the second “hand”, not my style) but I think Zodiac have done very well and to my eyes its one of the nicer-looking rectangular watches out there.  Sell better at <$1000?

  • East Watch Review

    You have to be right. Looks oddly vintage and modern at the same time…

  • Shawnnny

    Here’s the story of a lovely lady
    who was bringing up three very lovely girls
    all of them had hair of gold, like their mother.
    the youngest one in curls.
    Here’s the story of a man named Brady
    Who was busy with three boys of his own.
    They were four men living all together
    yet they were all alone
    Till the one day when the lady met this fellow.
    And they knew that it was much more than a hunch,
    That this group must somehow form a family,
    That’s the way we all became the Brady bunch.
    The Brady bunch, the Brady bunch.
    That’s the way we became the Brady bunch.

  • joshgraves

    I like it.  A bit large for me, but I enjoy the clean design.  I wouldn’t call 5k units a limited edition…they could scrape that BS off the back and no one would notice.

  • joshgraves They sat in on the Omega seminar on “limited edition watches”

  • mrbst

    Kinda wished this was the ABTW Monthy Giveaway prize 🙂

  • DG Cayse

    Shawnnny AWESOME !

  • DanW94

    Nice.   1969, the year of Woodstock, the moon landing and architect Mike Brady proudly sporting his new, space age Astrographic watch!! (and a new perm)

  • Good pun!

  • LapYoda

    I had a chance to try one of these on at my local AD.  Very cool design, well finished, and unsurprisingly chunky given the thick, square case and beefy bracelet.  I really liked the floating “mystery” hands and seconds ball, and could definitely see myself owning one if the price point were lower.

  • Jef_in

    I think the Red dot floating second hand won in Basel World some time back for ZODIAC.  Got one vintage floating red dot in gold plated case and bracelet. Still works fine after decades.  This can be a good update once it comes to my area.

  • somethingnottaken

    I like the new Astrographic and would be happy to add one to my collection; however, there are a few other watches before it on my wishlist.

  • egznyc

    Let me get this straight: did architect Mike Brady wear the original version of this watch? I used to love to watch this show (in reruns) in junior high, but that was many decades ago and I just don’t remember such details.

  • egznyc

    True that!

  • egznyc

    I agree with @somethingnottaken – there are other watches higher up on my list but this design is something that surprises me. I’m not usually into something so chunky or 70’s-ish, but it just really works well as a whole package.

  • DanW94

    No, no, not that I know of. I was just kidding. I read Shawnnny’s post and just kind of went with it.   Anyway, I think Mike Brady would have worn a Timex, or maybe a Hamilton…lol

  • egznyc

    DanW94 egznyc There is a big difference between Timex and Hamilton 😉  They are both parsimonious picks in their own way though, and I think you’re right that Mike Brady was a frugal fellow, given how many mouths he had to feed.

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