Zelos Helmsman 2
Zelos Watches is a brand that is pretty popular these days in the microbrand online watch world, but it was just a few years ago that they introduced their first watch, the Zelos Helmsman. I reviewed that very first watch here on Watchreport, and it was one of my first reviews here as well. (You can search on the site to find that original review, though I worn you the pictures are not up to the standards I have today). Flash-forward a few years later and after an array of unique and affordable models from Zelos, (including some other brands Elshan has his hand in, like Vilhelm and Ventus), he has decided to update his OG model with the Zelos Helmsman 2. Currently it is available through preorder on the Zelos website. In hand I have the bronze/black dial prototype, but there are stainless versions as well as well as meteorite dial options. The prototype is mostly there, but as usual, there will be a few slight changes come production, which is slated for late November/early December 2017.
Zelos Helmsman 2 Specifications:
- 42x48mm Bronze or Stainless Steel Case
- 13.5mm thick
- 22mm lugs
- Domed Sapphire Crystal
- Seiko NH35 automatic movement
- BGW9 Superluminova
- 300 Meters Water Resistant
- Horween Leather Strap (production model)
Price (Preorder) $429 (Bronze as shown)
The big change come production for the Zelos Helmsman 2 will be a solid case back versus the exhibition case back with a custom rotor shown below. Elshan told me that it will have a standard rotor with a solid back. Both bronze and stainless versions will have a stainless screw down case back, with some kind of etching or engraving that has yet to be determined. I find this to be a good move as the prototype has a noisy rotor and feels cheap, though on my example the rotor also did not move properly either, and was hard to keep wound through motion. Again, this is all being addressed and I assume, as Zelos has a pretty good track record, that it will all be worked out come production.
The Zelos Helmsman 2 stays true to the original in terms of overall design, but has had a major dial overall. The inner bezel sits more on top of the dial now as opposed to looking more like a chapter ring in its previous incarnation and the hands and markers are slightly larger, allowing for a bolder look and feel. The dial is clean of excess text and the date is put in place of a 3 o’clock marker, and not obtrusive to the rest of the dial. I wish other brands would do this instead of sticking it at 4:30 and almost in the center of the dial. The internal bezel is lumed as well as you can see below, though the prototype is a little blotchy. I assume it will be filled evenly when they are produced.
Zelos Helmsman 2 Lume
Crowns are lumed as well, and also have a similar look to jet fighter exhaust nozzles. I had some issues with the time setting crown on the prototype of this Zelos Helmsman 2, I found it very hard to grasp and unscrew, as I mention in the video. I am not sure if this is something that can be corrected or if it is just because it is a smaller crown that screws down into the case more so than the internal bezel crown, in which I was able to unscrew relatively easy. I will say overall I feel the crowns are on the small side for larger hands, so just a heads up for you big paw gentleman.
When it comes to finish and machining, I think the Zelos Helmsman 2 is in line with its price point, keeping in mind that the price listed here is preorder price, but even if this ends up being a $600 watch, I feel it is worthy. As you can see, this bronze sample has some patina happening to it, but you can still see the edges of the case are nicely beveled and I found no rough edges or spots. One thing I always check for is the finishing on the underside of the lugs. Some companies neglect this area and you end up with rough or sharp edges. I am glad to say that Zelos passed the test here with this model.
The strap is a rubber Isofrane style with a custom buckle and overall is very comfortable, and should fit a large wrist. I am not sure if this will be included with the production model though as Zelos lists a Horween leather strap. Zelos has been known to include a few straps with their models in the past, as was the case with the Zelos Hammerhead, so I do not think it would be out of line to say this strap will be included when you get yours, should you order one. If the rubber strap is something that will make or break your purchase, I would contact Zelos ahead of ordering.
For me, the Zelos Helmsman 2 is a perfect fit for my 7 1/2 inch wrist, at least these days. With the rubber strap, it wraps perfectly around my wrist and the case has a nice curve to it that helps with comfort as well. Because of the size of the crowns, they do not dig into the back of my hand, yet I still would like to see the crowns enlarged a little, or maybe just some extra texture to them to aid in grip.
It is always great to watch and experience the evolution of a brand. As I stated earlier, in a few short years Zelos has been able to be at the forefront of popular microbrands and that is not an easy task with so many brands these days. Zelos continues to improve with every watch and I while I can not say with absolute certainty any issues I mentioned here will be rectified come production, I have a pretty good feeling that the Zelos Helmsman 2 will be a well made affordable diver. For me, I would probably go for the stainless steel model with meteorite dial, as I find it the most striking, but bronze watches are still very popular these days and this one comes in a more modest size than most.
Thank you for reading, please leave any comments below.