Zelos didn’t gain such a loyal following in the watch world because of reasonable prices — there are plenty of brands that do that. Instead, they’ve done something much more challenging: they’ve built a brand with a clear design language that always seems to be pushing boundaries with materials, textures, and colors. Though the overall style of the watches they offer is familiar, it’s not derivative. For anyone interested in out-of-the-ordinary materials like meteorite, Damascus steel, and forged carbon, or those who want a watch that’s fun and out of the ordinary, but doesn’t cost a fortune, Zelos is hard to beat. The newest member of the Swordfish family, the Swordfish 40mm SS Meteorite is a perfect case in point.
If you’re interested in watches, you’re all too familiar with the law of diminishing returns. As soon as you move past the venerable sub-twenty-dollar Casio F-91, you move out of the world of objective value and into the world of subjectivity — a world littered with terms like “provenance” and “fit and finish.” As such, any discussion of value is, by its nature, subjective. But, if the things you personally value in a watch include original design, interesting materials, reliable movements, and a price that always seems to come in lower than expected, then Zelos offers incredible value.
The Zelos Swordfish 40mm SS Meteorite comes in, not surprisingly, at 40mm in diameter. If you prefer larger watches, Zelos also offers the Swordfish in 42mm (colors will vary). This iteration of the Swordfish comes in stainless steel, though Zelos has also offered the Swordfish in titanium. The case shape is familiar, with spot-on dimensions for a 200m dive watch, including a 46mm lug-to-lug distance and a reasonable 12mm height. The lines are angular and aggressive, with a mix of brushed and polished surfaces. You won’t find the sharpest transitions or Zaratsu polishing, but overall, there’s nothing to complain about. For my 6.75” wrist, the sizing is ideal and whether worn on a bracelet or strap, it’s quite comfortable to wear all day.
The 120-click bezel is fairly stiff, though that feeling is likely exaggerated by a bezel that’s not terribly grippy. There’s no slop or back play, and though it’s never easy to categorize bezel action, if pressed, I’d say it feels most similar to a Seiko diver like the SPB143. The markers are all fully lumed on the meteorite dial, though they’re not nearly as bright as the Super-LumiNova you’ll find on the markers and hands.
The latest drop of the Zelos Swordfish included several eye-popping colorways, but since I’m an absolute sucker for meteorite, I had to see if we get our hands on this colorway for review. There’s something undeniably cool about wearing a piece of space rock on your wrist, its distinctive Widmanstätten patterning forged in the crucible of interstellar space. Zelos doesn’t specify which meteorite this particular dial comes from, though Zelos has previously used pieces of the Muonionalusta meteorite, a 5.6-billion-year-old octahedrite, type IVA (Of) meteorite that crashed to earth on the border between Sweden and Finland roughly a million years ago, only to be discovered at the turn of the 20th century. Unfortunately, the use of meteorite tends to come with an upcharge and that’s no different with the Swordfish, though in this case, it will only set you back an extra $100 over the standard colorways ($499 vs. $399 USD). Worth every penny in my humble opinion.
The meteorite dial is certainly the centerpiece on the watch and the light blue (or Tiffany Blue, teal, or whatever you want to call it) accents are a lovely contrast, making what could be a serious and aggressive dial feel fun and playful. Because the meteorite is formed naturally (in space!), each dial will be unique. The elements in the meteorite itself interact with the light differently, resulting in a dial that can move from bright and reflective to subdued. If you like textured dials or dials that shift in the light, you won’t be disappointed. The only downside is in bright light you can lose a bit of legibility with the light blue markers and hands.
The Swordfish uses a sandwich dial with cutouts for the markers, all filled with Super-LumiNova. Though the specific concoction isn’t specified, the lume is strong and long-lasting with a cool effect whereby the nighttime lume glows the same color as the daytime markers. We get so used to seeing white markers shift to blue or green that it took me by surprise the first time I came into a dark room out of the light. Zelos keeps the rest of the text on the dial to a minimum, with their Z logo at 12 o’clock and a bit of tiny, almost indecipherable, text above the date window at 6 o’clock. Though this model uses a standard black-on-white date wheel, most colorways are matched to the dial. Black on white makes the most sense here, especially with the white chapter ring and black details (plus, I’m not sure how you would color-match meteorite).
The Zelos Swordfish 40 runs on a Seiko NH35 automatic movement that runs at 21.6kbph and hosts a 41-hour power reserve. Given the price point, the NH35 makes perfect sense — it’s tough, it’s reliable, and it’s a fair bit cheaper than equipping the watch with a Sellita SW-200 or similar. That being said, the NH35 is not exactly known for its accuracy (-20 to +40 seconds/day). Personally, I’d be happy to spend a bit more for a Sellita or even the La Joux-Perret G100 that Zelos used in the Spearfish, but I fully understand the decision to keep costs down and maintain the price point.
The three-link bracelet on the Swordfish 40 starts at 20mm at the lugs and tapers slightly down to the nicely milled push-button clasp with tool-free micro adjust. The links on the bracelet are small, allowing you to easily get a nice fit, along with plenty of articulation and female end-links that allow the bracelet to drape nicely on small wrists. The flat links on the bracelet feature angular chamfers and, overall, it’s a good look that complements the watch. However, it’s not without its faults. The end-links meet a bit awkwardly at the case and though the tolerances are nice and tight, the junction feels off when viewed from the side. Note that from above it looks perfectly fine and, practically, the low placement keeps the weight close to the wrist. Finally, the edges on the underside of the bracelet and on the clasp are a bit sharper than I would like. Though the flat links look nice, smoother and softer edges on the bracelet and clasp would be more comfortable. Personally, I’d wear this primarily on either a grey NATO-style strap or an anthracite tropic strap.
Zelos’s strategy of having core lines that constantly change with new sizes, materials, and dial colors is both the best and worst part of the brand. The beauty of this approach is that Zelos is constantly evolving, trying new things, and offering an amazing array of options. On the flip side, this strategy drives the hype train — if you like that new model, you better buy it, because once it’s gone, it’s gone, and they never seem to be produced in large numbers. So, sure, it can be frustrating if you miss out on a new release (this watch is already sold out at the time of publication), but this is how Zelos has always operated and has led to some wild, and unexpected watches, like Timascus-cased chronographs and even a tourbillon. Personally, I hope Zelos keeps on doing what they do and keeps producing new and interesting watches. Be sure to keep an eye on their social media and act quick if you see something you like. The Zelos 40mm SS Meteorite is priced at $499 USD (other Swordfish 40mm SS models are priced at $399 USD). To learn more about Zelos, please visit the brand’s website.
>Model: Swordfish 40mm SS Meteorite
>Price: $499 USD
>Size: 40mm diameter, 12mm height, 46mm lug-to-lug, 20mm strap width.
>When reviewer would personally wear it: When wanting to wear a fun pick-me-up watch that will put a smile on my face.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: A NASA/space fan who’s looking for a fun and affordable watch with a story to tell.
>Best characteristic of watch: Meteorite! Plus, excellent lume and a coherent design.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Softer edges on the bracelet and clasp would improve the wearing comfort.