Topper Jewelers Night Out with KISS & Zodiac Watches
Russ and I announced the partnership between Topper Fine Jewelers and Zodiac at the KISS Show in Concord, California on July 2nd.
KISS drummer, Eric Singer, has always liked watches, but he really stepped up his collecting in the early 1990s. It was at this time he began to take note of Zodiac. While doing internet searches and following online auctions, he became aware of some Zodiac pieces from the 1960's and early 1970's. Specifically, he was drawn to the Super Sea Wolf, which was often worn by Navy Seals, and the Astrographic, a unique piece that features invisible hands.
In more recent years, Eric has become a well known watch enthusiast and collector. He has been profiled by Watch Time magazine, and certain pieces in his collection were shown earlier this year on the popular watch blog site Hodinkee. Last year Eric tested the prototypes for the anti-shock Ball SpringLOCK system by drumming with the watch on during a live show in Milan, Italy. A few months later, we interviewed him to discuss the experience of performing a watch test on stage.
During the past two years, I've really enjoyed spend some time with Eric at Baselworld. While his tastes in watches are very eclectic, he enjoys taking in the new collections of most of the brands at Topper. He has also come with me on a few scouting missions. This year, we both really wanted to see Zodiac because we had been told they were now making automatic versions of reissued pieces which had originally caught Eric's interest back in the 1990's. Eric has known one of the most senior people at Zodiac's parent company for years, and he constantly encouraged them to make this type of watch. 2014 marked a significant change for Zodiac, as not only were they offering automatics, but they were pairing them with the new Fossil STP-1-11 Swiss movement.
When Eric saw the collection in Basel, he was really impressed. Not only did he like the Heritage pieces, but he also liked the ZMX collection, a series of modern styled pieces. While Eric is a Heritage guy, he thought a lot of his bandmates would really like this more contemporary collection.
Following Baselworld, Russ and I decided to carry Zodiac at Topper. Shortly after that, Eric decided he wanted to pick out a watch for Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer. We decided to help make that happen at the KISS show at the Concord Pavillion in Concord, California on July 2nd.
As with everything watch related, Eric poured over the Zodiac catalogs of new releases and picked a few he thought each band member would like. With several of Eric's suggestions in hand, Russ and I visited with KISS before the show and helped each member find just the right Zodiac watch for him.
Eric thought that guitarist Tommy Thayer would like the color scheme of the Zodiac ZMX Racer the best, and right he was; it looked great on him!
Here is guitarist Tommy Thayer wearing a Zodiac ZMX Red Racer.
Here are some close-ups of the Zodiac ZMX Red Racer:
Ultimately, while Tommy liked the ZMX Red Racer, he is accustomed to wearing automatics, so he decided the slightly more toned down Green ZMX Jet-O-Matic was a watch he would enjoy more.
Tommy Thayer wearing his choice, the Green Zodiac ZMX Jet-O-Matic.
Here I am messing around with one of Tommy's Les Paul Guitars while he tries on watches. (Unrelated, but interesting side note, Tommy changes guitars about every three songs during his performances so everything stays in tune).
The ZMX Jet-O-Matic is a large piece at 46mm in diameter and 15mm thick. What is unusual about the piece is that it features a NATO band that is adjustable on both ends. Its name and the knurling on the side of the case are inspired by the engines of jet aircrafts.
The Green Zodiac ZMX Jet-O-Matic
The infinitely adjustable strap of the Green Jet-O-Matic.
The caseback of the Jet-O-Matic featuring the Fossil STP-1-11 movement.
The perlage finish (circular graining pattern) applied to the bridges of the Fossil STP-1-11.
Of the three band members Eric was picking watches for, Paul Stanley is the greatest enthusiast with the largest collection. Paul tried on the Quartz ZMX Racer, and while he liked the colors, he too was more interested in the automatic models. Ultimately, Paul liked the Orange ZMX Jet-O-Matic the best.
Here is Russ (right) wearing an Omega Planet Ocean GMT with Paul Stanley sporting his final choice, the Orange ZMX Jet-O-Matic.
Back at Topper Fine Jewelers, we took some extra photos of the details of the Orange ZMX Jet-O-Matic:
Gene Simmons has a lot of watches, but interestingly, almost never wears a watch, which made our task challenging. Eric thought the watch Gene would like most would be the ZMX Aviator on a steel mesh bracelet. Eric chose the ZMX Aviator because he thought it was clean, easy to read, and comfortable. Was he ever right! The ZMX Aviator was the first and only watch that Gene saw. Eric helped him adjust it; he put it on, and that was that.
Gene Simmons wearing the ZMX Aviator on his way to a fan Meet & Greet.
Below are some photos we took of the ZMX Aviator on the mesh bracelet back at Topper. The Aviator is a big and bold piece that is readable and has an unusual retrograde complication on a quartz watch. The quality of the bracelet is unusually high for a watch of this price point.
Eric also did not forget the man behind the scenes, famous tour manager, Doc McGhee.
Like Eric and Paul, Doc loves automatic watches, and like Tommy, he chose the Green ZMX Jet-o-Matic.
Doc outside talking to some guests wearing his Green ZMX Jet-O-Matic
After everyone had settled on a watch, the band went to a Meet & Greet about ninety minutes before the show started. In the Meet & Greet they play acoustic songs out of makeup for about fifty fans.
Paul playing at the Meet & Greet wearing his Orange ZMX Jet-O-Matic.
Russ taking a photo of the performance wearing the black ZMX Jet-O-Matic.
I snapped a photo of Gene and Eric playing over a Zodiac Heritage Astrographic.
After the acoustic performance, the band members signed autographs for the fans.
Eric signing autographs wearing the Green ZMX Jet-O-matic.
Paul Stanley Signing autographs wearing the Orange ZMX Jet-O-Matic.
Gene Simmons signing autographs wearing the ZMX Aviator
A few hours before the show, Paul was checking out his email, and the orange ZMX Jet-O-Matic.
Eric shows Paul how the ZMX Jet-O-Matic is adjustable on both sides, and they work out the perfect fit for his wrist.
During the Meet & Greet I was wearing the Heritage Astrographic, a reissue of one of the first pieces Eric ever saw from Zodiac. None of the band members chose this watch, but Russ and I really like it! It has been our best selling Zodiac so far. Here are some more photos of the Gray Heritage Astrographic:
A few hours later with the band in full make up, Russ and I display our sign announcing Zodiac at Topper.
Shortly thereafter, Russ and I took in the live show from the Hall of Fame band.
Over the past month since the show, to everyone's surprise, Gene has by far gotten the most use out of his Zodiac! Eric says he's been wearing it every day, and has sent me a few amusing pictures of Gene with the Zodiac Aviator. A couple are below.
Here is Gene Simmons wearing his Zodiac ZMX Aviator during a discussion on Fox Business in late July.
Eric sent me this photo of Gene in the car with his Zodiac ZMX Aviator.
A special thanks to KISS for letting us into their world for a night, and to Eric Singer for his unrelenting enthusiasm and love of watches of all kinds. As to which Zodiac Eric likes the best? Like Tommy and Doc, he liked the Green Jet-O-Matic which he currently has on order. The piece he is most excited about is the next Super Sea Wolf which is currently in development. All of the Zodiac watches shown in this blog post range in price between $845 to $1,295. They provide a great value for pieces in this price range.
As to the watches shown in this post: The Jet-O-Matic retails for $1,195 in Green (Tommy $ Doc) or Orange (Paul) and $1,295 with the all- black case. The Aviator Limited Edition Mesh (Gene) retails for ($1,195), the Red Racer retails for $845, and the Gray Astrographic retails for $1,195.The Topper Blog consists mainly of original writing by Rob & Russ Caplan with occasional special contributions and interviews. All photography in the blog is taken at Topper Fine Jewelers , or on location unless otherwise indicated in the photo captions.