The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf "Topper Edition"
Topper Jewelers presents two twenty-piece limited edition Zodiac watches from the Super Sea Wolf collection. These watches came about through the collaborative design efforts of Eric Singer and me. Eric is the drummer in the rock band KISS, and is a celebrated watch-enthusiast. He regularly attends the Baselworld fair, and has even served as a jurist in the Grand Prix d'Horlogerie de Genève.
How did Eric and I come to design a Zodiac limited edition? First, it should be pointed out that Eric is a long time fan of Zodiac, and while he has been interested in Zodiac watches since the 1970's, he has really enjoyed the company's recent exploration of their dive watch heritage. Topper has been Eric's authorized dealer of choice for many of his recent Zodiac acquisitions, and we've talked quite a bit about his favorite Zodiac watch of 2017, the ZO9265. Eric and I also enjoy working on design mockups together, and he provided significant contributions to the design details of the first dive-themed Topper Jewelers limited edition.
Eric's involvement in this project was more direct. It started by me asking him, "If you could design a watch like the ZO9265, but in a colorway from Zodiac's history that has yet to appear in a modern Zodiac, what would you choose?" After a great deal of research, and with Zodiac's blessing, we collaborated on mockups of two similar non-date watches taking design cues from Zodiac pieces of the 1960's and 1970's. The results were the ZO9267 (black) and the ZO9268 (silver).
How did we land on this particular design? A quick search of "Vintage Super Sea Wolf" on Google images led to a treasure trove of daring and distinctive designs. One of the most characteristic aspects of vintage Zodiacs are the "Bakelite" bezels. Bakelite, a transparent synthetic plastic, was adorned with indices of radium numerals suspended inside. Zodiac began using Bakelite bezels in 1953 as one of the first three companies to feature a professional grade dive watch. The material was also used by other luxury brands, such as Blancpain and Rolex. While Bakelite is no longer used because it is rather brittle, and radioactive radium paint is no longer used on watches for safety reasons, we were taken by the design. Accordingly, just as with last year' ZO9265, our limited editions feature a mineral glass topring to emulate the original Bakelite bezel. We think the bezel looks particularly striking, infused with orange indices combined with an orange chapter ring, and the grey bezel on both of these models is fashioned after some of our favorite Zodiac watches from the sixties and seventies. Both the black dial ZO9267 and the silver dial ZO9268 feature this aesthetic.
As for the durability of the topring, aBlogtoWatch's David Bredan said the following: "K1 mineral crystal arguably isn't as hard as sapphire crystal, but it will require a lot of effort to scratch it – the one on this review piece is perfect even after a fair bit of wear. Watch repairer friends tell me one need not worry about it ever fogging up or losing its sheen either." If you look at the video here, you can see that the topring gives the bezel a unique 3D feel that is distinct from the more prevalent ceramic bezels of most modern dive watches. They are also more scratch resistant than the anodized aluminum inserts prevalent in the 1990s and 2000s.
You will also note that this watch is a non-date. Like last year's popular ZO9205 limited edition, the watch features a STP3-13-3. The movement is not only C.O.S.C. certified, but also features a swan neck regulation system, making it easy to adjust. In addition, the watch is attractively decorated with perlage on the base plates and bridges. For more information about the STP movement, read about ABTW's trip to the STP facility in 2016. The watch also features a 44-hour power reserve. In total, the movement seems on par with chronometer-grade Selita and ETA movements.
The STP3-13-3 movement produced by the Swiss and highly automated STP Watch Movement Manufacture, an ETA-like division of the Fossil Group.
While Zodiac does have some history making non-date dive watches, most of the vivid and vibrant Zodiacs from the sixties and seventies featured dates. Our two limited editions are the first modern Zodiacs to feature a combination of the Bakelite bezel look (mineral glass topring) alongside the uninterrupted symmetry of a non-date dial.
As for the two dials, their dramatically different colors require differences in some of the accompanying elements. The silver dial features a dark metal applied logo to provide maximum contrast to the inner dial. This darkened chrome look was a design cue taken from some of Eric's black chrome drum kits. In contrast, the black dial features a light metallic applied logo without a blackened color treatment. For maximum legibility, the silver dial features black hour and second hands, while the black dial features a natural steel-colored hour and second hands. The words "Super Sea Wolf" is a dark grey color matching the darkened logo on the silver dial, where it is white on the black dial. Both silver and black dials feature a metallic sunburst pattern.
The black-dialed Topper Zodiac Limited Edition Super Sea Wolf (ZO9267).
A skewed glance shows the depth and dimension of the mineral crystal topring on the ZO9267.
The silver-dialed Topper Zodiac Limited Edition Super Sea Wolf (ZO9268).
The black hour and second hands, along with the dark logo and text, make an attractive contrast to the silver sunburst pattern dial of the Topper Zodiac Limited Edition Super Sea Wolf (ZO9268).
These watches are designed to be extremely wearable featuring a 40mm case, 20mm lug width, and 11mm thickness. They also feature screw down crowns and are water resistant to 200m.
The jubilee style bracelet, more commonly found on more formal watches such as the Rolex Datejust, is unusual for a dive watch. It features a spring loaded clasp that ensures a comfortable fit as your wrist size changes due to temperature variances.
I can't stress enough how fun it was to work on the designs of these timepieces, and now to see them be made. Thank you to Zodiac and Eric Singer for making this project possible. We are very happy with the way the prototypes turned out, and feel that Zodiac executed the small details exactly as we envisioned them. More than half of the twenty pieces of each dial have already been reserved, and we are currently taking reservations for delivery now through April. We hope you find the watches interesting. If you do have an interest in vintage divers, we highly recommend taking some time to search the Web for images of vintage Zodiac watches.
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.