What’s old is new again. Judging from the number of vintage-inspired watches released at Baselworld this year, I think it is safe to say that the trend is still going strong. Honestly, what’s not to like? If properly executed, such watches have all the charm of their vintage counterparts and none of the usual drawbacks like maintenance, usability, and not to mention, authenticity. At any rate, one of the highlights of this year’s Baselworld is the grossly overlooked Zodiac Olympos.

All images by Ariel Adams

First things first for those not up to speed on the latest industry happenings. Zodiac is now owned by The Fossil Group, who happens to be one of the largest watch companies in the world. Apart from Fossil, they also own Skagen, Misfit, and they make watches for brands like Adidas, Armani Exchange, Michael Kors, DKNY, and so forth. Though their business is primarily in fashion watches, Zodiac remains very much a watch brand for enthusiasts. Fossil is also keen on making inroads into the mechanical watch market and have their own movement manufacturing facility in STP (Swiss Technology Production), which manufactures movements for use in Zodiac watches and Fossil’s other brands. STP is very much a Swiss movement maker as it is based south of Basel near Lugano.

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So yes, the new Zodiac Olympos watches are powered by STP movements, but more on that later. The new Olympos is available in five versions, including two limited edition models with a ‘mystery dial’ and another with a ‘military dial.’ The three regular models are as follows: yellow gold-plated case with a gold dial, brushed stainless steel case with a champagne dial, and finally a polished stainless steel case with a black dial.

As befits a vintage-inspired piece, the Zodiac Olympos comes with a rather modest 37.5mm case. However, because of its unusual case shape, it wears slightly larger than what specs might suggest. The case shape is asymmetrical from top to bottom, with wildly flared flanks at around 2 and 10 o’clock. The flared flanks also help protect the crown. Overall, the Olympos resembles a bullhead-style chronograph but without the chronograph pushers.

The Olympos wears nicely on the wrist. For folks used to bigger watches, the Olympos will take some getting used to, but it is refreshing and comfortable to wear, thanks also to its relatively slim profile. I would definitely say that it is more elegant than sporty. The case is also nicely finished for the price, with sharp and clean edges and evenly polished and brushed surfaces. Water resistance is 50m.

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All three regular production models come with stick indices for the hours and simple baton-style hands. The hands and hour indices are not filled with luminescent material. There is a framed date window at 3 o’clock, the applied Zodiac logo and name of the watch at 12 o’clock, and finally the word ‘Automatic’ at 6 o’clock. It is all very clean and classy.

Of the trio, my favorite is the black dial version, for a number of reasons. First, unlike the gold and champagne dial models, the date window of the black dial model is color-matched to the dial. Additionally, all fonts are gold – including the date font – which I think nicely matches the black dial and calls to mind the gilt dials found on some vintage watches. I also like how Zodiac has decided to go with a vintage-style font for the various labels on the dial.

We also got the chance to handle a limited edition version of the Olympos that comes with what Zodiac calls a ‘military dial.’ This has a black textured dial and large Arabic hour numerals that are painted with lume. The hour and minute hands are also thicker and filled with lume. This version is definitely the sportiest.

Inside, the watches are powered by the self-winding STP 3-13, which is a variation of the ETA-2824. It differs by having a swan neck regulating system, which allows for finer tuning of the movement’s rate. The STP 3-13 beats at 4Hz and has a decent power reserve of 44 hours. The STP 3-13 is also adequately decorated, featuring blued screws, extensive perlage on the base plate and bridges, and Côtes de Genève on the rotor. Unfortunately, these can’t be admired because the Olympos comes with a solid caseback.

All in all, the Zodiac Olympos is a great example of a vintage-inspired watch done right. The overall design is really well-judged. The case, though a little humble, is refreshing and well-sized especially for watch lovers who are looking for something a little more understated and different. The dial is clean, legible, and downright classy. It’s a really fantastic and elegant little watch that I think will find many fans. The Zodiac Olympos is priced at $795 and $995 for the limited edition models. zodiacwatches.com

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