This Zelos Swordfish is the latest version of this very popular microbrand model, and there are a few recent changes and some new dial colors, but mostly this is a new run of a mainstay model from the Singapore micro. Most here are probably familiar with Zelos, even if you have never owned one, you have probably seen them in group posts, Facebook or Instagram posts, or ads or maybe even your friend owns one. Zelos has not only grown over the years immensely but they also have sustained a massive following for the last decade and they show no signs of slowing down. The Swordfish is generally one of their more affordable models and seems to be a mainstay in their collection. This latest drop of divers is in stainless steel, and has some new dial options, like this Ember Orange and a few others, a Seiko NH35 movement, along with a stainless bracelet and quick adjust clasp. This one also has a unique feature, as this orange dial is also a full lume dial, and looks quite different in the dark. Current pricing is $399.
- 42mm Case of Stainless Steel
- 22mm Lug Width
- Lug to Lug 48mm
- 12mm Thick
- 198 Grams in Weight
- Sapphire Crystal and Bezel
- 200m Water Resistant
- Seiko NH35 Movement
- Full Lume Dial
- Bracelet with Quick Adjust Clasp
- Travel Case and Warranty Card
Price $399 USD
I reviewed the Zelos Swordfish back in 2018. I am not sure what version that was but for the most part, the watch is mostly unchanged, it just keeps getting more and more refined with each iteration. The case design and finishing, along with the flat link bracelet and case back artwork appear to be the same, and over the years this model was available with either an NH35 or a more expensive ETA 2824. These days it seems they mostly stick with the NH35, to keep it on the budget side and occasionally a Miyota 9015 or 9039. Over the years this watch has been made in steel, titanium, bronze, and a myriad of dial colors, textures, and even mother of pearl and meteorite.
The Zelos Swordfish comes in a few sizes, the latest release of the divers is available in 40 or 42mm, as a matter of fact, it says the size right on the dial, which is one of the changes from previous models. It is still a sandwich dial, still has the date at 6 o’clock, and the Ember Orange is available in two versions, this one is a full lume dial, with black hands and markers. The hands and markers seem to be unchanged as well, and the dial is still very uncluttered and extremely readable. One thing of note, this orange dial and sapphire bezel are hard to capture properly in photos. I’m not sure what hue of orange to compare it to, but it photographs with a yellow tinge to it, and in person, it is more of a bright orange.
Zelos has kept the finish all satin-brushed for 95% of the case, with some highly polished accents under the bezel edge. The bezel teeth alternate between brushed and blasted, and while I wouldn’t say this watch has a tool watch vibe, the overall finishing is pretty subdued. Obviously, with this version and a few others, the color of the dial and sapphire bezel makes the watch really stand out, and something that has stayed on the Swordfish all these years is the metal ring between the dial and bezel, which some love and some hate. I think it looks okay, but I wouldn’t mind a bigger dial and a slightly wider bezel, which could be done if that metal ring was removed.
The bracelet, again, is mostly the same. A very aesthetically pleasing flat link bracelet, with female end links that sit slightly low in the lugs, allowing you to see more of the case. Usually, this is not a design choice I am fond of, but between the thick tapered lugs and the finishing, it seems to meld altogether nicely. The flat link bracelet uses one-piece screws for sizing and like a lot of brands these days, Zelos has its own distinct clasp with a quick adjust clasp. These days, traditional dive extensions on clasps seem to be a thing of the past, and while this clasp extension does give one an extra bit of length, I am not sure if one could use this over a wetsuit, like dive watches of years past. But, if you need to get a better fit with your watch, you can easily slide the button under the clasp and move the extension in and out. I will say, it’s not the most attractive extension, but it functions very well and locks into place.
On my 7 1/2 inch (19.05cm) wrist, the 42mm feels perfect. The Zelos Swordfish isn’t very thick at 12mm and with a lug to lug of 48mm, and those female end links, this is an easy everyday wear piece. At almost 200 grams, it’s not lightweight, but it feels very balanced, (once sized as I had to remove 4 links), and though I initially requested the 40mm version, I am glad they sent the 42. I think it shows that numbers do not always tell the whole story. Many watch enthusiasts these days seem to be asking for 40mm and under watches, and somewhat get in a frenzy when a watch is released in 42mm. While the 40mm probably fits like a glove on a smaller wrist, I think this 42mm will fit and feel good on a wide array of wrist sizes, as it’s a well-designed and well-proportioned watch.
One unique feature of the Zelos Swordfish Ember Orange is that this orange dial is actually a full lume dial. Normally we associate lume dias with a white or off-white dial color, but either Zelos or maybe the factory has figured out how to make a bright orange dial turn a bright fluorescent yellow in the dark. Apparently, Zelos has done this color before, I believe someone said with a Hammerhead. I must have missed that one, though it is hard to keep up with every release from every brand. Regardless, in the dark, the lume certainly is funky and more importantly very bright and vibrant. Even the chapter ring glows, with a nice BGW9 blue, which contrasts nicely with the bright yellow.
The Zelos Swordfish is still a well-made, well-designed, and affordable piece. If you caught this watch at the launch price, it was actually $299. Currently, at the time of writing this review, the Ember Orange and many of the other colors are sold out, as they sold out during the launch, which I believe was 2-3 weeks. This is kind of a preorder, but more of a very short preorder, as the watches are already in ongoing production. At this time, the price is $399, which is still a great price for all the watch offers, and while this orange color may not be my favorite, I can’t deny the appeal, and of course, there are many other colors and dials available. These days, we all want as much as we can get for our money, and it’s great to see that Zelos is putting out great watches for well under $500. Even though each batch sells out relatively quickly, I imagine we will see a new, slightly upgraded Swordfish again soon, as this model seems to be a big seller, and it’s easy to see why.