A generally more rarely encountered design element is the crystal covered bezel. Zodiac fitted the baby blue bezel with a K1 mineral crystal, with a “blaze orange” minute track and a pip – lit up by the Natural Super-LumiNova underneath it. The discreet reflections of this domed crystal add so much to the impression the Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression makes. It looks more refined and visually interesting. K1 mineral crystal arguably isn’t as hard as sapphire crystal, but it will require a lot of effort to scratch it – the one on this review piece is perfect even after a fair bit of wear. Watch repairer friends tell me one need not worry about it ever fogging up or losing its sheen either.

Quality of execution on the steel case and bracelet is decent enough for the price. The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression ZO9265 both looks and feels solid, with polished and brushed surfaces interchanging between different segments of the exterior. The crown is easy to use and screw back down, the bezel feels solid with no wobble at all, and the bracelet is a lot better than the Jubilee-type ones encountered ever so often on niche desk divers – the four-figure price is definitely reflected here.

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The five-link bracelet with its solid links naturally appears to have been strongly inspired be the evergreen Rolex Jubilee bracelet – and while the execution will expectedly fall short of that, it is way better than the ones you get on few-hundred-dollar watches. As much as I enjoy wearing beater watches, the similarly styled bracelet on, say, a Seiko SKX007 I think is just intolerably bad. The piece attached to the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 was good enough that it’s not only that I didn’t want to take it off and bury it in the garden the moment I saw it, but actually felt happy to wear the watch on the OEM bracelet (more on wearability just below).

The ZO9265 also comes with a rubber strap along the Jubilee-style bracelet, but I didn’t receive that rubber strap with the review piece – I have seen it hands-on at Basel though. It was a flexible and nicely made strap with the original ardillon buckle. Lots of holes for easy adjustment made for an easy fit, though if you have a smaller wrist, you’ll want to know that the longer part goes around and extends a bit longer than you’d probably want it to.


Wearing comfort on the bracelet is great. The stacked rows of tiny little links enable the bracelet to effortlessly wrap around the imperfect oval shape of the wrist – I haven’t had issues with hair-pulling either, which is a good thing.

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The clasp I have not grown to enjoy as much as I did the bracelet: it takes what I feel to be a bit too much force to close, and the asymmetrical design means that you have to get used to which end you close first. Additionally, there are some sharper edges here and there, which makes the whole process of closing the clasp that tiny bit more uncomfortable than it needs to be. Little things, but hey, they are worth noting.

One ingenious – and, in truth, redeeming – feature of the bracelet and clasp is the self-adjusting micro-adjust element found at both ends of the clasp – when I come into power, I’ll set it in law that all watch bracelets must have this. It’s a relatively simple and, better still, very discreet way of doing a micro-adjust clasp: as your wrist expands and you’d need the bracelet to do just the same, at the two ends where the bracelet’s links meet the clasp, there is a small spring loaded piece that allows the bracelet to effortlessly expand by not more than a few millimeters on each side. Unless you’re Hulk himself, that will perfectly suffice. Great work here, Zodiac.


I mean, just look at those massive hands. I don’t know of too many other watches where this much surface of the dial is covered by the two main hands at any time – good luck reading any of the fancy text with these two bad boys running around. While the hour and minute hands are relatively close in shape and size, you won’t ever confuse the two – the very different colors will help you tell them apart in the light, while the totally different shape of the lume segments in each helps distinguish them in the dark.

The thick hour and minute hands will not allow for as easy and accurate legibility as some beautiful, hand-sharpened dauphine hands, but this chunky, orange hand and the way it matches with the block indices and orange minute track is just the perfect match for the Super Sea Wolf.

Luminescent coating on the hands is as good as it gets – Seiko’s insanely bright LumiBright lume notwithstanding – while the indices appear to have been treated with a comparably lower quality material. Zodiac calls the lume on the hands Natural Super-LumiNova (though I am not sure what “natural” stands for here, apart from the fact that it’s better than on the indices), while the indices have C1 Super-LumiNova. Add to this the lumed pip in the bezel, and you have a light-show perfectly good enough for a true (and costly) dive watch.


Inside the limited edition Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression ZO9265 ticks the STP3-13 “in-house” movement. When I say “in-house” what I mean is that STP is the Fossil Group’s movement manufacture – in Switzerland, of all places – that you can read all about in Ariel’s manufacture visit here. The STP3-13 in the ZO9265 is a three-hand movement with date that runs at a frequency of 4Hz (28,800vph) and has a power reserve of 44 hours.

Where it really flexes its muscles is its COSC Chronometer certification – again, just for the limited edition, whereas the baby-blue/deep-blue piece that Ariel took pictures of has the same STP3-13 movement but without the COSC certification. Zodiac/STP really should have named the COSC certified variant differently to save everyone the confusion. Anyhow, the dial of the ZO9265 proudly boasts ‘Automatic Chronometer’ on the dial – sort of as a presumptuous wink at Tudor and Rolex. There is no see-through caseback but the movement does have a Zodiac branded rotor, perlage, and blue screws.


Price for the 82-piece limited edition Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression ZO9265 is $1,495, while the non-limited, blue-on-blue ZO9264 that ditches the bracelet and the COSC certification retails for $1,195. This makes these relatively more expensive than many other indie divers or the go-to options from Seiko, but quality of execution both inside and out, along with a great bracelet and a COSC certified movement help justify the expense. Hands-on, the Super Sea Wolf 53 is your budget Tudor competitor, and not your overpriced Seiko option. From the super safe vintage originals and black-on-grey models to the ZO9265, Zodiac put together a strong line-up of well-made, vintage inspired watches and if enough people can get them to try on in person, I expect them to do well in what actually is a very competitive market. zodiacwatches.com

Necessary Data
>Brand: Zodiac
>Model: Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression ZO9265
>Price: $1,495
>Size: 40mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Into vintage dive watches and wants something that looks straight from that era, but also demands modern build quality and performance.
>Best characteristic of watch: Just such an honest and fun-looking watch, that is an absolute joy to wear. Also looks like a watch, with just enough character to make it unique.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Wish bezel was sapphire and that the hands’ great lume was on the indices too. Clasp has a few edges  that are too sharp.

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