Nassau, the capital city of The Bahamas, is a wonderful place to both wear and celebrate the diving watch. It was here that, in the 1950s and 1960s, recreational diving began its unrelenting love affair with the public at large. Zodiac watches was one of the original watchmakers to produce watches for the burgeoning recreational dive watch market. Diving was not possible without time-keeping; for decades, anyone diving was absolutely required to carry a timing device.
Now, in 2019 the diving watch — commercially stronger than ever — has a different relationship with the wrist. Only in places like The Bahamas will many dive-watch owners ever take their watches below the surface to experience its operation under water. These days, to see a dive watch actually being worn in the water is more the excpetion than the rule. It is also true that you probably can’t ever really enjoy dive watches if you never get them wet.
In December 2018, aBlogtoWatch and Zodiac offered one lucky aBlogtoWatch audience member a trip to The Bahamas to experience ocean adventure. Taylor W. of Austin Texas joined me and Zodiac Watches in some of the most beautiful clear waters in the world. From swimming with turtles to feeding pigs on the beach of Exuma Island, Zodiac reminded us where their best selling line of Sea Wolf and Super Sea Wolf watches originally came from.
Travel to a tropical diving destination, and you’ll immediately see where a lot of the colors for diver’s watches came from. Bright hues populate boat instrumentation and gear for easy spotting in water-soaked marine environments. Watches normally followed these color palettes but today, many of the more energized dive-watch colors are less popular. The truth is that some of the more wildly colored dive watches are the most authentic, which is why I really enjoy how Zodiac continues to be inspired by its own history of dive watches, as well as take risks with new colorways. It is a very fashion-forward stance from a producer of serious diving instruments — but the Zodiac of today has a corporate parent (Fossil). For Zodiac’s future to be bright, it must satisfy both watch collectors and the well-to-do fashion audience who ideally likes the theme of Zodiac as much as they love its look. That type of volume approach is a must for Zodiac as they try to amplify the low-volume production success that they have been currently enjoying.
Zodiac has real potential. With in-house movements available from in-group production partner STP, Zodiac can also leverage the Fossil Group’s deep interests in Switzerland. This is really the making of the next big luxury brand — if its skilled managers can maintain this forward momentum with continued attention. Let’s hope they can. Zodiac’s big news for 2019 was the introduction of the Aerospace GMT collection, but the Sea Wolf remains a strong product. These two blue-accented versions (originally debuted on aBlogtoWatch here) are the Zodiac reference ZO9275 (strap) and ZO9274 (bracelet).
It is probably nearing the time when Zodiac will plan on materially updating the 40mm-wide steel Sea Wolf watch platform with some facelifting and tweaks. Though by changing the dial, hands, strap, and bezel options, Zodiac has been able to keep the collection remarkably fresh. Its risk-taking in terms of producing radical dial color combinations has rewarded them well. Zodiac didn’t ask themselves “who else is producing these colors?” before they decided to do so. I applaud that and wholeheartedly endorse companies being original when it comes to the colors and textures they choose. There is far too much lateral thinking in the watch industry, and those who engage in creative behavior should be rewarded.
Many people in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s who would later go on to wear their dive watches full-time originally purchased them in The Bahamas or a place like it when going snorkeling or diving for the first time. In my opinion, that dive watches translated so well for out-of-water use is a testament to the emotional power of watches and perhaps just dumb luck that they didn’t otherwise get in the way. Consider that wearing wetsuits casually might have really taken, off save for the fact that wearing neoprene all the time is simply impractical even if it looks cool.
Dive watches could be worn all the time, reminding people of their fun time exploring under water, as well as their tropical vacations. The memories imbued into recreational dive watches for many people transcended their practical functional value. If anything, from the commercial success of dive watches the watch industry learned that consumers would rather be reminded of hanging out on the beach when they glance at their wrist than what looks good in a boardroom meeting.
Zodiac’s Heritage Sea Wolf 53 and Super Sea Wolf 68 watches offer a very authentic way to wear and experience a traditional diving watch that would have donned the wrist of someone in the 1950 or 1960s getting to try the new hip sport. Today our passion for diving hasn’t faded, but some of the adventure of the art has. Digital equipment has removed the high degree of skill needed to make sense of time readings, and underwater video and photography has shared the thrill of the deep with the rest of the world. Still, being able to feel the freedom of diving is one of the most beautiful and meditative experiences we can semi-safely have. For me, wearing a cool watch — even if it just supplements a digital timepiece or diving computer — really helps complete the diving or snorkeling experience for me. I think Zodiac feels the same way and it shows in their products.
I want to thank Zodiac and the Fossil Group team to taking us to one of the original and still best places for swimming and underwater exploration. Nassau benefits from being surrounded by warm, clear, and very calm water. Such a spot was perfect for what a public still new to diving needed to get comfortable in the water. Generations of people first experienced what lay beneath the waves for the first time here, and it remains a must-visit destination for anyone who wants the absolute correct place to play with their dive watches.