One of the cornerstones of Zodiac’s success in recent years is its ability to create a seemingly endless array of variants from a handful of core themes. The Super Sea Wolf line is undoubtedly the lynchpin of this strategy, as the brand has expanded the skin diver-style series over the years to include a broad and vibrant spectrum of styles, strap options, case materials, and especially colorways. While these have run the gamut from traditional black dial diver designs to escapist tropical fantasies over the years, the brand’s work with white dials stands out dramatically. While most brands tend toward soft off-white tones for their dials, Zodiac embraces the space-age roots of the Super Sea Wolf line with brilliant optic whites, punctuated by vibrant hyper-saturated accent colors. The latest of these styles pairs a snowy white base to cobalt blue highlights for a crisp and attention-grabbing look. The new Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” offers one of the most dynamic, modernist styles in the brand’s current lineup, with a striking new statement-piece colorway.
At 40mm-wide and 13.4mm-thick, the stainless steel case of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” should be familiar to fans of the brand. This design is clean and almost elementally simple, with unadorned skin diver lines and shrink-wrapped guard-less case sides. The vertical brushing used for the case sides coupled with the box sapphire crystal tends to accentuate the case’s height on the wrist, but the end result is far from unwieldy thanks in part to its modest diameter. Zodiac introduces some brightwork to the otherwise unadorned case through the polished top surfaces of the slim tapering lugs, which help to keep the design from feeling too spartan overall. The real centerpiece of the case, however, is the bakelite-effect bezel insert. This pairing of a mineral crystal ring with a painted lower layer does an admirable job of recreating the deep, glossy look of vintage bezel insert designs, without bakelite’s tendency to crack and discolor with age. The white and blue dive scale is detailed enough to be immediately legible, but is visually simplified to the point of feeling clean and airy. The use of Arabic numerals at the 30-minute mark may prove divisive, however, as while it helps with visual orientation, these numerals also stand out against the surrounding indices and unbalance the layout slightly. Zodiac fits the Super Sea Wolf “Whitecap” with a solid caseback, featuring a deep and cleanly executed relief engraving of the classic Zodiac crosshair emblem. Like the rest of the series, the brand rates this model for a solid dive-ready 200 meters of water resistance.
Although the dial layout of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” is shared with its stablemates, the use of color here makes this an instant standout in the brand’s lineup. Zodiac resists the temptation to use a gloss or sunburst finish for the bright white base dial surface, and the simplicity of that optic white surface gives the rest of the design a more effective visual punch. The bright cobalt blue used for the outer minutes scale and broad baton minute hand may not be the wildest or most vibrant color ever used in the Super Sea Wolf series, but paired with the clean white base it strikes an ideal balance between eye-catching style and actual day-to-day wearability, while injecting the ‘60s-inspired base design with an appropriately space-age flair. Given the elemental two-tone simplicity of the base design, fine details have a chance to stand out, and elements such as the well-balanced segments of dial text at 12 o’clock and 6 o’clock, along with the semi-gloss finishing on the applied black rectangular indices, give the overall layout a sense of thoughtful consideration that rewards long glances. Date windows are almost always a controversial topic among enthusiasts, and the Super Sea Wolf “Whitecap” does a decent job of integrating its 3 o’clock date display with the overall dial design with its thin printed black border. With that said, it’s difficult to argue that a no-date variant wouldn’t be cleaner and more balanced on the wrist.
Inside the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” beats the familiar STP 1-11 automatic movement. Manufactured by Zodiac’s parent company Fossil Group, the STP 1-11 is broadly similar to other Swiss automatic stalwarts such as the Sellita SW200-1 and ETA 2824-2. Despite the similarities, however, the STP 1-11 does offer marginally better performance on paper than some of its counterparts, including an average 44 hour power reserve at a 28,800 bph beat rate. Zodiac pairs the watch with its five-link jubilee-style bracelet in stainless steel, and this pairing might prove contentious among enthusiasts. This is a simple, pared-back design with a bright and sporty colorway, and the more upscale, dressy connotations of the jubilee design feel somewhat at odds with that presentation. Although the bracelet itself is well made with brightly polished center links and a signed butterfly clasp, this would be a prime candidate for a tropic strap or Zodiac’s own stepped oyster-style bracelet.
With a bright and sporting new colorway that seems to beg for fun in the sun, the new Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” is a charismatic addition to the brand’s cornerstone lineup and a playful space-age contender for this year’s unofficial “Watch of Summer” honors. The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” is available now through authorized dealers. MSRP for the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9291 “Whitecap” stands at $1,495 USD as of press time. For more details, please visit the brand’s website.