March 12, 2018
by Ariel Adams
As a 2017 release, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9205 is an interesting limited edition version of the Super Sea Wolf from Zodiac. It also happens to be the first Zodiac Super Sea Wolf watch I’ve reviewed that has the “truer to original” dial that evokes Zodiac dive watches from the 1960s. Zodiac was among the first brands to release recreational diver’s watches in the 1950s. This limited edition offers an elegant and useful tool watch design, in a modestly-sized case for those who are fond of more classic sport watch sizes. It also happens to include an excellent Chronometer-rated mechanical movement, as well as the first titanium case for a Super Sea Wolf-collection timepiece.
A discussion of this watch would not be complete without talking about the fact that it is similar to the Zodiac timepiece allegedly worn in the late 1960s by the infamous Northern California-based Zodiac Killer (who has been the subject of a few films). This is one of those stories that the Zodiac brand of today (now owned by the Fossil Group) would probably not elect to tell because it doesn’t always leave people in marketing positions feeling excited. With that said, my research and that of others who have more expertise in this matter have found that there is no actual evidence to suggest that the Zodiac Killer ever actually referenced or even owned a Zodiac watch. None of the living victims ever mentioned a Zodiac watch, and the killer himself never mentioned it. The only evidence to suggest that the Zodiac Killer (as he called himself) was referring to the watch brand is because he used a similar cross-hair style logo in messages to the police.
While such trivia is interesting storytelling to us watch collectors, you can see why Zodiac itself isn’t jumping at the opportunity to mention this fact. In any event, as I said above, there is no actual evidence the Zodiac Killer was ever referencing Zodiac watches, and the entire thing could have just as easily been an ironic coincidence.
This particular dial style has never been emulated better than by Zodiac, but you can see hallmarks of it in many of the Eterna KonTiki collection dive watches. Use of four opposing triangular hour markers along with dauphine-style hands makes for excellent legibility and visual splendor. While this limited edition is not the only watch with this style of dial, Zodiac really cleaned it up for this limited edition – and I think the result is excellent. One of the key benefits of the limited edition dial is the lack of a date window, so the 3 o’clock hour indicator replaces the window, leading to a more visually symmetrical, and thus eye-pleasing dial layout.
This is sort of a perfect watch for those who like vintage-style military watches, but who seem to feel that most of those are visually a bit dull. Zodiac offers an excellent blend of personality and tool-timepiece appeal (in my opinion). A good example is the rich contrast between the hands/hour markers and the dial, as well as the removal of the line bisecting the hour and minute hands that we find on the hands of the current non-limited Super Sea Wolf 53 Skin watches.
While the slightly domed sapphire crystal does suffer from a bit of glare, overall legibility is excellent in the Super Sea Wolf, and the view in the dark with charged lume is a special delight unto itself. Characteristics like the thickness and color of the luminant, as well as the subtle brushed metal surfaces on the hands and hour markers indicate an important level of detail missing in most other tool watches at this price.
Zodiac claims that this watch is 40mm wide, but I would rate it closer to 39mm wide (without the crown). Thickness is about 13mm, but the domed caseback makes it wear a bit smaller. The reason for the case diameter disparity is because the Super Sea Wolf 53 collection not only has a few dial styles, but two bezel options. This all-metal bezel is a bit more narrow than the bezel with the transparent insert in it. This bezel is the more “vintage feeling” of the Super Sea Wolf collection, which is a look I think buyers will want to go for in an attractive and unpretentious look that a timepiece such as this offers.
The case, in dark gray, is titanium as opposed to the steel of other Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 models. Note that this limited edition ZO9205 removes the “53” part of the name. Titanium makes this modestly-sized watch even more comfortable to wear given the lighter weight – which is noticeable. The case is water-resistant to 200m with a screw-down crown, and the unidirectional bezel clicks securely without any noticeable wiggle.
Inside the watch is a COSC Chronometer-rated version of the Swiss STP caliber STP 3-13 automatic movement (4Hz, about two days of power reserve). We discussed this movement (which is an upgrade to the STP 1-11) in reviewing these other Zodiac Super Sea Wolf watches here. One of the added features to the STP 3-13 movement is a fine-adjustment system which allows a watchmaker to precisely adjust the accuracy of each specific movement much better. As of now, only limited edition Zodiac watches have movements which are sent to COSC in Switzerland for Chronometer testing. STP is owned by Fossil (as is Zodiac), so you could call this an in-house movement if you like. At the very least it is a movement created by the same parent company, which means Zodiac doesn’t need to pass on higher costs to the consumer when acquiring the movements.
Zodiac opted to test an interesting strap for this limited edition ZO9205, and they actually include it in two colors: black and olive green. The fabric straps have Velcro on both ends, in order to allow for a more precise fit. One of the ends tucks under the strap, while the other end tucks over, situated on the side of the watch which is on the “inside of the wrist.” A metal buckle is used as a loop for both strap ends to connect to. More so, this is not a NATO-style strap, which means there isn’t added thickness to the bottom of the case given the strap running along its length. That means that you can have the interesting and comfortable look of this strap (ideal for sport activities) with the low-profile sitting position that is otherwise available with other versions of the Super Sea Wolf 53 on a metal bracelet. I don’t know how well these straps will age with time, but it is good to see Zodiac experimenting with novel concepts and seeking new ways to make its core collection of vintage-themed timepieces as relevant as possible for today’s watch enthusiasts.
With well-done vintage-homage timepieces such as the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf ZO9205, I don’t really know why someone would opt for the older version. Yes, people like antique items, but I would prefer to get something new and give it my own history, as opposed to trying to buy someone else’s history. As a limited edition there will not be too many of these Super Sea Wolf ZO9205 watches available. Like other recent limited editions produced by Zodiac, a total of only 82 pieces will be produced. Price is just $1,295 USD (Zodiac recently started utilizing e-commerce too). zodiacwatches.com
>Model: Super Sea Wolf Limited Edition ZO9205
>Price: $1,295 USD
>Size: 40mm wide
>Would reviewer personally wear it: Yes.
>Friend we’d recommend it to first: Watch collectors who are fans of vintage-style dive watches with real character, but who really want something new (and also exclusive).
>Best characteristic of watch: Good value in terms of movement, components, and overall construction quality. Dial is attractive and easy to read. Titanium case is lightweight and a comfortable strap is included.
>Worst characteristic of watch: Sapphire crystal has a fair amount of glare (even if it doesn’t affect legibility too much). Case is a bit smaller than Zodiac seems to suggest, which is important for potential customers to know.