As I crammed the final items into the car before leaving for a weeklong trip to the beach, a box suddenly appeared on my doorstep. I hadn’t seen the delivery vehicle approach, idle, or depart. The box was just sitting there, having arrived against all odds at the earliest end of the expected delivery window. It was so unlikely that I had no idea what the package was at first. I had to pick it up, weigh it in my hands, and read the return address from Zodiac to confirm that the watch had in fact arrived with such perfect timing as to necessitate a reconfiguration of my vacation lineup. I saw the obvious opportunity to wear a dive watch in the actual ocean; surely, I couldn’t ignore the fates and not bring it along. As quickly as the watch had arrived, the matter was settled: The brand-new Zodiac X Huckberry Super Sea Wolf Bronze Skin Diver was in my bag and on its way to the beach.

Along with the chaos that comes with having two young boys on vacation with you, there are some perks. One of those, believe it or not, is when your almost-three-year-old wakes you up at 6:40 AM. There are many things you can do, especially if you haven’t anticipated this abrupt end to your sleep: try to get him to sleep a little longer, have him snooze with you in your bed, or get going on the day with a full charge and hygiene. None of those options is wrong, but when you’ve got a beach nearby, a new watch to try out, and a camera, an alternative presents itself: early morning beach walk. That’s when I first put on and captured this 39mm two-tone bronze and steel version of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Skin Diver. I’m not usually a big fan of such watches, mostly due to how almost all of them are high-polished with the only effort at subtlety being that they weren’t made in solid gold. The less ostentatious look of the Zodiac X Huckberry results in a two-tone watch that works for me. The warmth of the rising sun against the smooth bronze bezel insert and the muted steel case, how the light managed to catch the polished ridges of the bezel itself—it brought the watch to life in a way that I wasn’t expecting. (Perhaps I would’ve seen this coming if I spent more time walking on beaches at sunrise.)

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I’ve owned a Super Sea Wolf before, a black bezel, black dial, steel cased version I’d gotten at a deep discount, but it simply didn’t resonate with me. It was too shiny with its polished case and the bracelet wasn’t my style nor up to snuff for my perhaps unrealistic expectations. But this one, made to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the model, clicked immediately. The first and perhaps only obstacle I encountered with the watch was the brown suede strap. While comfortable, getting a snug fit on the wrist requires additional hand contortion I’m not used to and certainly don’t prefer: The band uses Velcro on both sides to close (which you can see in some of the photos), and to get it nice and tight, you’ve got to pin the one end to your wrist while simultaneously pulling the other around and pushing it down. Needless to say, it takes a few tries. On the brown strap, even without the glow of the morning sun, the watch has an earthy warmth that isn’t entirely unexpected for a collaboration with the outdoors-loving people at online outfitter Huckberry.

Later in the day, I made the switch to the included black natural rubber strap, which required a tool (which I obviously had with me) since the straps lack quick-release bars. The change also presented a chance to experience the watch in an entirely different light. The black rubber completely shifts the feel of the watch, from casual and outdoorsy, to sporty and purposeful, something perhaps more welcoming of the ocean. Instead of the bronze bezel being brought out by the strap, the grainy black dial is made to pop out. What didn’t change with the straps is how well the watch sat on my wrist. With the modern diameter, a thickness of 12.6mm, and a 46.5mm lug-to-lug, there was an effortlessness to wearing this watch.

One thing I do every time I get a watch with a bezel is to test how that bezel operates when wet. To me, a bezel should be easy to grip and use in all conditions. Most watches fail this test, proving too difficult to manipulate with any measurable amount of moisture on the bezel and one’s hands. Usually, this non-scientific testing is done during bath time with my boys, but this time it was far less perfunctory. I actually had things perfectly suited for a timing bezel: my nephew waiting 15 minutes under the beach umbrella for his reapplication of sunscreen to kick in, my five-year-old son getting his last five minutes in the pool before lunch, Monday night’s pasta. No greater joy than Spontaneous Bezel Opportunities! Each time I used it, the bezel was a perfect tactile experience, the balance between the coin edge grip and the detent tension seemingly ideal.

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Of course, I never had a concern for the watch’s safety in the ocean or the pool at the house we rented (though you aren’t wondering, my five-year-old preferred the pool, while his younger but more daring brother quickly warmed to, and preferred, the ocean). The watch has a bronze screw-down crown that matches the bezel, with the Zodiac logo and a thin but grippable ridged portion that helps deliver 200m of water resistance. Further, while I didn’t hazard the water with suede strap, I was comforted by the substantial kinked buckle that held the rubber strap securely in place.

The dial for me was almost secondary. It’s easy to read and has a bit of vintage quirk with its big lumed triangles at the cardinal hours. The design of the hour markers means that in low-light conditions—where the watch performs adequately, though the hands shine brighter than the other elements—the 3-6-9-12 numbers are in negative against the lume, another fun quirk you don’t see often. While I appreciated that, the handset style wasn’t my favorite. I can’t proffer how one might fix it, but the extra-sharp dauphine hands and the seconds hand that wishes so badly that it was a GMT hand, although complementary to the triangle hour plots, seem too harsh for what I saw as the softness of the rest of the watch.

The only hint of collaboration aside from the watch’s box is the Huckberry fir tree logo on the caseback, which sits in a subordinate position to the central Zodiac logo. While the model is limited, there is no limited edition numbering, nor even mention that it is a limited edition. This wouldn’t bother me as an owner, but perhaps some people like knowing that they have an LE, others want to know how many were made, and still others like to know the exact number of their watch in the limited series. Unsurprisingly, the watch runs on a Swiss automatic STP-11 movement (both STP and Zodiac are owned by Fossil), with 44 hours of power reserve at 28,800 vph, the date thoughtfully removed, and a quoted accuracy of -/+20 seconds per day. For a number of reasons, I rarely keep track of accuracy for review pieces, but I can remark that I didn’t have any problems with this piece’s timekeeping.

Anecdotally, I’ve rarely had so many people message me about a watch I’ve had in for review. This watch seems to truly appeal to people, so much so as to overcome their feelings about the model or Zodiac as a whole. Many said something along the lines of “I’m not a big Zodiac person, but I really like this.” And it’s no small feat to overcome a watch enthusiast’s indifference towards a brand. We’ve reviewed plenty of Super Sea Wolfs and looking back through them (there are more than 20!), there’s something about this one that stands out above the rest. It may not have the summer fun of the recent white ceramics, the edginess of the black ceramic, or the LSD-laced joy of the rainbow skeleton, but I think that’s exactly why it’s such an attractive watch. It does its thing without pretense and without being too insistent.

While I have felt momentary intrigue towards many Super Sea Wolfs (Super Sea Wolves?), this is perhaps the first that truly resonated with me. I’ll state very subjectively that it’s the best Super Sea Wolf yet. Ultimately, the only differences between this and the standard black dial version of the watch are the bronze bezel, bronze crown, and the suede strap (plus the tiny tree on the caseback). Those elements alone shouldn’t cause such a sea change, and yet this synergistic collaboration is proof positive that sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. The Zodiac X Huckberry Super Sea Wolf Bronze Skin Diver is priced at $1,895 USD and limited to 182 pieces. For more information, you can visit the Huckberry website or the Zodiac website

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