Zelos Chroma Hands-On

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The last time we encountered Zelos Watches they had just launched their third watch, the Abyss 3000M Bronze on Kickstarter (which was successfully funded and then some). In between dive watch releases, the brand went for something different, the minimal-designed lugless Chroma.

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Specs

ZelosChromaFACECase: 316L Stainless Steel; also in PVD finish
Movement: Miyota 8215, custom PVD plated rose gold rotor
Dial: Black (also available in cream and skeleton black or skeleton cream)
Lume:
Lens: Sapphire
Strap: Crazy Horse Leather
Water Res.: 50M
Dimensions: 42mm
Thickness: 11mm
Lug width: 20mm
Warranty: 1 Year International Warranty
Price: $299

Case

The 42mm round, lugless case is the most noticeable feature of the Chroma. Rather than traditional lugs for the strap the Chroma instead uses hidden lugs on the underside of the round case. (We recently saw this same look with the Uniform Wears M40.) The case height is a respectable 11mm and its textured sides give it the appearance of being made up of several stacked pieces. It’s a cool look that gives the watch some additional interest on the wrist. The back of the case is nicely done as well with some contrast in finishes between the case and the four-screwed see through back. Even the rotor is treated in a gold finish and marked with Zelos. It’s nice to see this attention to the case back, even though it’s clearly not often seen. With the stock strap the watch weighs in at only 89 grams so its not an arm anchor. The front and back are protected by sapphire crystals and the “Z” marked crown screws down. Given it’s diminutive size I found it to be a little tough to get ahold of to unscrew to set the time, but not impossible.

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Dial and Hands

The dial of the Chroma is kept about a simple as one could get, yet is not boringly so. Yes, it is stark with no numbers or text, save the Zelos “Z” at 12 o’clock. The dial is multi-level with the inner portion having a nice sunburst pattern on the black finish. Around the outside of this section of the dial are the stick markers for the hours and the minutes. The hour markers are the same length as the minute but are just a little bit thicker. The outer section of the dial slopes up towards the sapphire crystal. Cut into the piece are slits showing white underneath for each of the 12 hours, effectively extending the length of the markers from the lower section. This section of the dial has a subtle radial pattern around it contrasting the outward flowing pattern of the lower dial.

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The hands are pretty basic silver stick style hands. They provide well enough contrast against the black dial, however they are not lumed. In fact, there is no part of the dial that has any luminescent material. Of all the factors of the watch this seems like the one shortcoming, though is not necessarily a deal breaker.

Movement

The movement used in this model, the non-skeleton version, is the well known Citizen Miyota 8215. The 8215 is the “workhorse” of the Miyota line. Non-hacking, automatic and hand-winding, 40 hours of power reserve and beating at 21,600 BPH the 8215 is pretty much one of the go-to’s for affordable movements.

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Strap and Wearability

This example came with a black strap with contrasting white stitching made from crazy horse leather. The strap has a matte finish with a light texture apparent on the strap. At first it was a bit on the stiff side, but after some wear has started to break in nicely without many signs of stress or wear. The buckle is marked with “Zelos” and has a nice cut-out on either side of the buckle as it attaches to the end of the strap.

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If you are not used to wearing a lugless watch the Chroma can definitely look different on the wrist. It takes some getting used to, but once you do, you realize it’s a nice look. Without the extra length of the lugs those with smaller wrists do not have to concern themselves with the watch looking too long. With the strap broken in some, the watch wears well and is quite comfortable. The stacked case appearance is clearly visible while worn, as mentioned, and give the watch an additional something to look at aside from the time.

Conclusion

The Chroma is a well done sophomore outing for Zelos. Aiming for both a minimalist design and affordability, the Chroma does well on both counts. The stacked case is a feature that still catches my eye and I really dig how the lugless design wears. The watch is somewhere between a dress and more casual piece, and I believe it could go either way. It feels just sporty enough for casual with the lugless look and (again, I know) stacked case and the dial provides for a more sophisticated look.

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The Chroma does have other options aside from this black dialed version, with a cream dial in stainless, black dial in PVD, and airplane propeller cut skeleton styles in cream/stainless and PVD/black case and dial finishes. Each variation is available in a numbered case back for $299 USD. If interested yourself you can pick one up directly from the Zelos Chroma store.

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Residing in North Idaho, James has been wearing a watch for over 35 years. With growth of the internet in the late 90s watches as an interest turned into an obsession. Since that time he has been a watch forum moderator, watch reviewer, contributor to Nerdist, and operates Watches in Movies in his spare time.
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  • Jeremy P

    better. this might be a homage to giuliano mazzuoli timepieces.