Zodiac’s core lineup is undoubtedly the Super Sea Wolf, and that’s for good reason. Zodiac has a very long history and even though they are now owned by Fossil, Zodiac is going back to their roots, but know they are not resting on their laurels either.The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression 53 Diver is not only part of their core lineup but also the model with the most variations.
I don’t want to sound like a broken record here. I have always loved Zodiac watches and have been buying them since the early 2000s. Some argue those designs from that time period were a low point for the brand. I don’t agree as I loved some of those models from back then. My dad and I owned a lot of them. And when Zodiac started going back to the 50s and 60s design, like this Compression 53, I was initially disappointed. In fairness, as we all do, I too have changed the direction of my collection or the watches I buy over the years. Some of the watches I bought in 2005 as an example, I wouldn’t even think of wearing these days.
So, taking a more objective look at the Zodiac lineup, I understand what they are doing and where they are going. They want to build upon the past success of the brand with models that are mainstays with many colorations and dial combos and slight evolutions instead of changing everything every few years. I mean, this makes sense. Look at Rolex, look at Breitling, Omega, etc.
So taking a look at this Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression 53, the case, bezel, crown, and case back are identical to previous Zodiac Models I have reviewed, like the Toppers GMT as an example. This design is heavily inspired by past Super Sea Wolf models, and while there are many variations and dial configurations, you can see a lot of the same elements from the vintage models in these new Compression Divers. This example, which has a more modern flair with the block style hands and indices, still retains the triangle bezel markings between the 15-minute scale.
I chose this example of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression 53 because of the dial colors. If you are not aware, Zodiac has a flavor for everyone, and I mean everyone. If you don’t like this example, just check their website. Everything from more retro-inspired dials with the triangle cardinal points on the dial, to different handsets, to every dial color and bezel color imaginable as well as two-tone models and more. The one thing they don’t currently have in their offering, is a lot of DLC cases, and they also lack titanium models, but hopefully, that will change in the future.
This particular sunray aqua blue dial, with the pale yellow chapter ring and red minute hand, is just flat-out amazing to look at. Seriously, I have stared at this dial way too much. The colors somehow all work together, even though on paper it sounds like it wouldn’t. Like the other Sea Wolf models, the logo, brand name, and cursive model name are still present, along with the automatic and water-resistant text. I feel they could update this text on the dial to make it a little cleaner, change the font of Sea Wolf, or remove some of the bottom text maybe. Overall though, it has a good clean and bordered date window and good sized applied indices and the dial is easy to read and with these colors, very attractive.
The domed bezel insert is still the same, I like the dive variation compared to the GMT or World Timer Models and the bezel teeth allow for an easy grip. In contrast, I am still not a fan of this crown. While researching for this review and looking at the vintage models, the crown on those was much larger, and though I have no first-hand experience with those, I imagine it easier to grip as well. I’ve seen some comments on the video review already that this crown is a decent size and I shouldn’t be complaining. It just goes to show everyone has their own opinion but I just don’t like the shape or size of this crown and find it hard to use, and I don’t consider myself to have massive hands either.
Image from Gear Patrol
The case finishing stays the same here as well, polished on top, with brushed sides. This means more noticeable scratches on the lugs most likely, but the lugs are thin and tapered and not really an issue. Despite the 14mm case thickness, which mostly comes from the back, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression 53 looks and wears thin, and the angled lugs allow it to wear comfortably on the wrist.
This is my first time with the tropic rubber strap and well, it’s a tropic rubber strap in look and form. Those of you who are tropic aficionados, you know they are not all created equal though, and I can report this is one fantastic and comfortable rubber strap. Great flexibility, but not so much as to not keep the watch firm on your wrist and tapered at the ends to have a sleek look and feel.
Zodiac likes to tout their in-house movements, those being the STP-11 in this case, as STP (Swiss Technology Production) is owned by Fossil, the parent company of Zodiac. If you are inclined to do a search online of these movements, you will find varying thoughts and opinions. A clone of the ETA 2824 essentially, with a 44-hour pour reserve, some have sworn off this movement because of winding issues, not-so-easy repairs, and rotor issues. This particular example seems just fine to me, and I haven’t had any issues with STP in the past, but I haven’t had any issues with SW200 movements either, but it doesn’t mean they don’t exist. It seems STP has been and is currently rectifying these issues, so hopefully, their reputation will improve.
This is the 4th Zodiac Watch I have reviewed in the past 2 years and though I have seen claims of the lume not being that great, I do not agree. This Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression 53 is more than sufficient in the lume department, lasts for a few good hours, and looks good in the dark as well. Is it a Seiko diver or a Rolex or close to any of the other lume kings? No. But I wouldn’t call the lume poor either, and I have found it more than sufficient.
Crown issues aside, I can definitely see the appeal of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression 53, though I probably still favor the Pro Diver that was recently released, as I just like the bigger size and overall beefier lugs and the addition of crown guards. That said, there is no doubt this is an attractive piece, the color combination of this particular example striking, and if you are someone that likes to collect many variations of the same watch, Zodiac has plenty to choose from.
P.S. I have seen what is coming from Zodiac, and they have a lot in store for this year and next, so if the current lineup is not exactly what you are looking for, keep your eyes peeled in the coming months.
I've been an avid watch lover since the age of 7. Watches are not only my hobby but a passion. My favorite style used to be dive watches, but field or non bezel watches have been growing on me. When I'm not reviewing watches I am either cooking or with family and friends.
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