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Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation watch collection isn’t brand new, but for 2020, Zodiac has released my favorite model so far in the collection with the Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation reference ZO9509. Internally at Zodiac, they call this Super Sea Wolf 68 watch the “blaze,” given its fiery orange hour markers and minutes hand. The heat is certainly up on this traditional-looking diver’s-style watch with its “liquid hot magma” markers that add some welcome personality. Actually, according to Zodiac’s design team, the orange colors on this and other Super Sea Wolf 68 watches that came before it (this is just my favorite model with the tone) are inspired by orange-colored reef-dwelling invertebrates such as corals and sea anemones. Another good way of looking at the ZO9509 is as a more accessible Omega Planet Ocean. Both timepiece collections have traditional steel, black, and white diver’s-watch looks with hints of orange and deep water resistance ratings. At not much over $1,500, the Zodiac ZO9509 offers the appeal of this look with its own character for an entirely different audience than the very mainstream Omega Planet Ocean.

A very important part of my appreciation for this particular Super Sea Wolf 68 Blaze isn’t just the dial design but also the bracelet. Given the relatively big 44mm-wide case’s narrower 20mm lugs, Zodiac has found it challenging to pair the case with an appropriate band. The problem is a matter of proportions. This is the second Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation watch after the Andy Mann ZO9508 to come with a new three-link steel bracelet. The bracelet has a slight taper which matches the tapering case in visuals. The outcome is still a narrow bracelet, but one that feels more harmonious since it mimics the line flow of the case. This is the best bracelet so far for the Super Sea Wolf 68, and it has helped make this Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ready as a mainstream watch for the fashionistas along with the tool watch guys.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The 44mm-wide case is in satin-finished steel (pretty uncommon, actually) and the bezel is in brushed steel. The tonneau style of the case is distinctive of a subset of 1960s- and 1970s-era dive watches. Each company had its own twist on the theme — including Zodiac. The “68” part of the name refers to the fact that the watch is inspired by original Zodiac Saturation diver watches from 1968. Compared to the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53, the 68 has much more water resistance and, of course, a different look. The 16mm-thick case is meant to be water resistant to 1,000 meters. Over the dial is an AR-coated sapphire crystal.

This is the first (or one of the first) non-limited-edition Super Sea Wolf 68 watches to include a COSC Chronometer-rated movement. Until now, only the limited-edition models came with the certificate that helps add value, both real and perceived (the label on the dial), to the watch — a further reason Zodiac watches should be considered a lot of product for the money. Inside the watch is the Swiss-made STP 3-13 automatic movement, which operates at 4Hz with two days of power reserve. A distinguishing feature of the STP 3-13 (also made by Fossil Group-owned STP in Switzerland) is its ability to be more finely regulated by a watchmaker and thus able to be more accurate and serviceable.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Above, I mentioned that this ZO9509 watch is an extension of a popular but sold-out limited edition Super Sea Wolf 68 known as the ZO9500. It, too, had the same case and dial combination but with a slightly different dial that (for example) didn’t have an orange-colored date window. The ZO9500 also came with a mesh metal versus this more complementary three-link steel bracelet.

Fans of Zodiac can probably see that the ZO9509 is an extension of a similar Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation watch that was a limited edition that is no longer available (because it sold out). Limited to just 82 pieces, the Zodiac ZO9500 was a design the company felt needed more attention. So, they did the smart thing and actually made some material improvements over the limited edition, while producing more pieces of the watch — at a lower price point than the limited edition was sold for. Owners of the original limited edition will be assured that both models have enough differences for each to be distinguished from the other.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The bracelet is well-made with unique parts and nothing off-the-shelf. It is, however, basic, lacking a fancy micro-adjusting clasp or anything like that, which most more expensive watches have. It is, however, comfortable and a pleasure to wear, as I think it makes the Super Sea Wolf 68 not only more stylish but look visually smaller when compared to wearing the same case on a rubber strap.

The bright orange hues on the dial, set against the backdrop of a very retro tool watch (gotta love the “screw-down” bezel around the crystal as part of this design ethos), make for a contemporary fashion statement. In all, the Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation is a potent timepiece because it elegantly combines the best of yesterday with the manufacturing quality of today.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

After finishing this review, I realized that I had actually neglected to take images of the watch’s caseback; it simply isn’t that memorable. The caseback is polished steel, bubble style (it protrudes a bit), and has text and an embossed Zodiac logo on it. I think it would have been a nice move for Zodiac to produce the caseback in a satin-finished steel to match the case. The vintage casebacks are all polished as well, but it was like that because it was the cheapest way to make a smooth caseback piece with precise tolerances, as it needed to screw down and keep water out of the case (along with gaskets, of course).

The relatively thin but attractive uni-directional rotating diver’s timing bezel is topped with a mineral crystal and is attractively sparse in design. Now, a small orange border lines the pip at the 60-minute marker. Like all Super Sea Wolf 68 watches, the bezel has a security feature that requires you to press it down before rotating it.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 Watch Review Wrist Time Reviews

The ZO9509 is among the most mainstream-capable Super Sea Wolf 68 watches the modern Zodiac has produced, and it’s a good thing for the brand, which is strong but also trying to assert itself among other brands at American-owned Fossil Group. Zodiac is its most prestigious brand and it’s working well, but the large company built from the success of fashion watches is still carefully evaluating how to grow a company like Zodiac. At least they aren’t neglecting areas where it really counts — product.

There is enough funkiness for the Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation to still be a niche or “cult watch,” but in this form, the ZO9509 helps the family of deep diving watches into territory where the Super Sea Wolf 68 now enters the list of options for those wanting a “luxury steel lifestyle watch.” As I said above, Zodiac’s strong point now is that the watch can appeal as much to a “tool watch guy” wanting value as a fashion-motivated wearer seeking something classy and mature, but also slightly attention seeking. Price for the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation ZO9509 watch is $1,595 USD. Learn more at the Zodiac website here.

Necessary Data
>Brand: Zodiac
>Model: Super Sea Wolf 68 Saturation reference ZO9509
>Price: $1,595 USD
>Size: 45mm-wide, 50mm lug-to-lug distance, and 16mm-thick
>When reviewer would personally wear it: As a classic and also durable daily-wear sporty dive watch with versatility but also a little funkiness.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Fan of the 1970s who wants a watch for today that hints at the era more than screams it.
>Best characteristic of watch: Good value when taking into consideration the built quality, durability, movement, and COSC-Chronometer rating — not to mention the competition at this price. Well-manicured design for this particular model of watch case and dial.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Design is not for everyone. Bracelet can still feel narrow for the case size at times. Sits high off the wrist. (It is water resistant to 1000 meters, after all.) A micro-adjust in the bracelet would make it even more appealing.

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  • Ugo

    another very good job from the guys at Zodiac.

  • Pedro Lambareiro

    No micro-adjust on the wrist? That seems odd.

  • SuperStrapper

    I’ve been enjoying the reemergence of Zodiac, I’d like to have one. Not really a fan of lugless cases but there are other Seawolf releases that are quite nice.
    I gripe that they are not available to view in Fossil boutiques. There are a few of them in the general area and in most of them no one had any real idea what i was getting at asking about a Zodiac watch.

    • Ugo

      i’ve been offered a brand new astrographic with blue dial at a good price and i’m really, really tempted…

  • Raymond Wilkie

    This is the 2nd watch in a row i wouldn’t be seen dead wearing. Sorry, not the most constructive of comments but that’s just what i think. I didn’t think you could get a worse braclet than the Gay Frères Ladder Bracelet on the previous watch….I was wrong.

  • Larry Holmack

    I like the black and orange look of the dial…but…the bracelet just looks like a mistake. With a 45mm case…a wider bracelet would have looked much better. Just my thoughts…

  • Chris Canady

    In all fairness, the bezel retainer nut didn’t align on the originals. Not sure if it’s still functional on these or not. I suspect it is since they look to have replicated the case design and push-in to turn bezel safety pretty well, at least from a visual standpoint. Non-funtional items with no mechanical purpose would be a lot easier to align. Not to mention it would be impossible to align a fourteen sided nut with this dial in more than one spot (as you mentioned). I assume they did these original multi sided nuts this way to keep it as round as possible and not look like a part they picked up at a hardware store. Would a twelve sided nut have succeeded? Who knows.

    What I find interesting is these listed new for $295 in 1975. Adjusted for inflation that’s approx $1,401.84. In other words, about what they sell for now. A couple things Fossil definitely has on its side is their design team’s attention to characteristic details and they haven’t abandoned Zodiac’s historical value proposition when compared to contemporaries. I like the look of this watch but wouldn’t wear it, mainly due to size, not because it looks cheap. The bracelet I could take or leave.

    • Independent_George

      Good comment.

    • Ariel Adams

      That detail about the price adjusted for inflation is interesting. Thank you.

    • Deniz Ultanur

      Even if they made a 12 sided nut, I assume it would be too much extra work to have them all aligned?

      • Chris Canady

        Possibly, but I really don’t know. It may be that there’s a very specific torque rating the nut has to be
        tightened to which allows the bezel to operate as intended…, or it could be there’s some play to it involved. If there’s some play involved then I suppose one could align the nut if it’s really that bothersome. If there is no play involved then yeah, it would probably be next to impossible. However, this being an issue on this kind of watch really escapes me. I tend to appreciate functional aesthetics over decorative ones on tool watches and this very much was a top professional dive/tool watch in it’s day. Based on functionality I don’t believe there’s a very strong argument that any other diver could be considered superior to Zodiac at this time . Throughout the sixties, Zodiac had a rate of return measured to be 50% better than the Swiss watch industry average. All dive watches were individually “especially” tested to their depth rating before shipping.

        What I can also say is I’ve been looking at vintage examples of this model for over a decade now and it’s never occurred to me that this might be considered an “issue”. So either you like these reissues faithfully recreated or you don’t and that’s the basis on which I would judge this watch. Recently I looked up several images of Squale’s semi-recent versions of this style Super Compressor and they have the same characteristic. They have the same number sides on their retaining nut and all but one example didn’t line up causing me to believe that the one that did was just an anomaly. If I had wrists that could support the visual scale or comfort level of watches in this size category I would already own one. Personally I think it’s gorgeous as far as reissues go. For the most part, only changing those items for which there are improved materials now available (for instance, the bezel insert) but leaving the original authentic look alone. The bracelet is starting to grow on me a little. I can appreciate the cohesiveness of the finish matching and I would prefer even a rather generic three link over previous versions’ mesh. Now, if they came out with an L.E. on a new version the original ’68’s ‘beads of rice’ with quick extension adjustment, I would probably not be able to stop myself from picking one up. Reasoning being, if I just couldn’t come to terms with the scale I could probably sell it on without taking too much of a hit, if any.

  • denisd

    I’m impressed, honestly. At that price and with those specs (chronometer), it’s nearly a Seiko MarineMaster killer. Would be interesting to know the watch’s weight (with and without the bracelet). Good review, thanks!

  • Esteban

    This thing is so misaligned it hurts.

  • NaJo

    Looks very awkward and am sure it feels the same at 16mm thickness Nd 45 dia.

  • egznyc

    I had this same thought. The watch is too big and weird in case shape for me, anyway. But that dial is very cool – I’ve always liked this color combination and I like the way they do it. I feel it’s sporty but I’d also be comfortable wearing it in more “conservative” milieus. Or maybe that’s just me being okay with slightly loud colors, but that’s me.

  • Mike Smith

    Am I the only person on the planet that hates these never ending boring dive watches? With blobs for markers and ugly bezels I wouldn’t want one as a gift. Rolex you’ve got a lot to answer for, including turning everyone into sheep!!!

    • Forever Great Baby D

      Actually it’s just me now but it’s Rolex I can’t stomach. It’s not the quality of course, it’s a given they are top notch and innovators in most categories but everybody and their mother with a gun to their head. “name a watch” Rolex, and it’s on the wrists of every shitbag on earth, it’s right up there with Hubolt, it’s the “rich” man’s invicta. For the record I have a couple stainless steel Datejusts and although NOT being made by Rolex as many yakety yak about, I have a Tudor North Flag because it’s a fine watch and the dial along with power reserve is really cool. Dive watches appeal to me because you can beat the shit out of them and never worry about being mistaken for a human trafficker or cigar store owner. Rolex and themed especially sports themed watches are like Rosie O’Donnell on a beach, you know they are well known and draw crowds but get ya qweezy and dry heeve.

      • Chris Canady

        Not entirely just you. I get tempted to pick up a vintage Datejust from time to time, ’cause I like the watch and all the different versions (which is part of the trouble, hard to pick which I like best) plus I’m a fan of the 36mm size they’re readily available in. However, I find the Rolex image and a vast majority of people I see wearing them to be distasteful. Not quite sure what O.P. is referring to regarding “sheep”. Zodiac was making dive watches before Rolex and this doesn’t look like any Rolex I’ve ever seen. Blobs for dial markers seems a little trollish. I have to wonder if possibly blob doesn’t mean what poster thinks it means or if it’s just the idea of having a visually effective dial on a purposeful dive watch that he finds objectionable.

  • Deniz Ultanur

    I can see how this is not a watch for everyone but for me it’s great. Micro adjustment on the strap and a more memorable case back would make it perfect. Love the case shape, finishing, dial colors… Might be one of my next purchases.

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