Hands On: Zodiac x Topper Jewelers Sea Wolf Limited Editions

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California’s Topper Jewelers, Zodiac, and Eric Singer (yes, of KISS fame) have teamed up once again to bring you a blast-from-the-past trio of Sea Wolfs. Today, we’re going hands-on with these three watches — which are, by the way, limited editions exclusive to Topper Jewelers — inspired by some unique and lesser-known pieces from Zodiac’s back catalog. We covered these watches when they were first announced here, so now we’re going to take a deeper dive after spending some time with the collection.

Of the three, two are “Rally” editions that share a solid set of features, most obvious being the checkerboard bezel. Both of the Rally watches also have stunning “dégradé” dials — a graduated sunburst that darkens towards the edge of the dial. The third watch is the “Super Sea Wolf” and it has a highly textured black dial and a totally different (read: more traditional) bezel adorning the top of the watch. All three watches do have a bit in common, but before we get into all that let’s rundown the specs.

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$1495

Hands On: Zodiac x Topper Jewelers Sea Wolf Limited Editions

Case
Stainless steel
Movement
STP 3-13-3 Automatic COSC-Certified Chronometer
Dial
Textured black; blue or grey “dégradé” sunburst
Lume
Super-LumiNova
Lens
Sapphire
Strap
Oyster or jubilee-style steel bracelets
Water Resistance
200m
Dimensions
40mm x 48mm
Thickness
13mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$1495

If you look at the cases, they’re essentially the same across all three models, just finished a little differently. The Rally models, for example, get a highly-polished surface treatment throughout — an excellent complement to the jubilee bracelet that they ship on. On the Super Sea Wolf variant, you’ll find a largely brushed finish that coordinates with the riveted “three-link” bracelet that’s reminiscent of vintage oyster bracelets. There’s even a small step along both edges of the bracelet that is meant to copy the look of older riveted bracelets, which are making a small comeback these days.

Inside, each of the watches are powered by Zodiac’s own STP 3-13-3 caliber. The movement is a simple three-hander with no date and it displays only the hours, minutes, and seconds. It boasts 44 hours of power reserve, which is a small boost over a standard ETA workhorse. These are also COSC-certified and come upgraded with a swan-neck regulator, which aren’t common features at this price point.

The first thing that my eye was drawn to is the rally bezel. Instead of the standard dive scale, there’s a white or yellow checkerboard running around the outside of the dial. Topper and Zodiac borrowed inspiration from one of Zodiac’s rarer vintage references. So rare, in fact, that it’s hard to even find photos of it on the internet. It’s nice to see a reissue of a watch that most collectors can’t easily get their hands on.

But it’s not just the look of the bezel; it’s also how it’s constructed. The insert lives under a layer of mineral glass (instead of using a metal insert or plastic coating) and the result mimics vintage bakelite bezels. When looking at the watch, the mineral glass adds some extra shine and depth. Another small and appreciated detail is the interesting shape of the hands. On the Rally models, they’re referred to as “shovel” hands, and they do, in fact, look like little shovels. Again, they’re funky and ’70s-inspired, and look right at home on this watch.

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My favorite thing about these Zodiacs has to be how well the dials are executed. The “dégradé” dials are just awesome, especially in the deep shades of blue and grey chosen for these watches, and I love how they play with light. The slight gradient, interesting sunburst effect, and generous use of applied indices and logos culminate in a dial that’s easy to get lost in (in the best way possible). If I had to pick a favorite, I think I’d go with the grey. The shade used is perfect and it really coordinates well with the yellow rally bezel surrounding it. Oh, and the lume is excellent here and generously applied to the dial and hands.

The chunky design and bright patterns make the Rally editions visually look like they’re on the bigger side. But all three models share the same reasonably sized 40mm case. When viewing the watch from the side, the mid-case is one vertical surface. This adds some visual chunkiness, but on the wrist, it still wears well. On either side of the case, you’ll find the slanting lugs, which help the watch hug your wrist. Speaking of the lugs, they span a reasonable 48mm from end-to-end. If you’re looking for a conservatively-sized diver that still has some wrist presence, these Zodiacs do the trick.

Another area where the Zodiacs shine is their bracelets. The machining, fit, and finish on both styles of bracelet are very high quality. The machining on the individual links of the jubilee bracelet is equally impressive whether you’re looking at the top or bottom surface of the bracelet. In an effort to improve the overall comfort of the bracelet, the links closest to the clasp have a spring-loaded element that allows the bracelet a little bit of give. Sometimes it’s hard to get a bracelet sized just right, and this extra bit of slack really goes a long way in ensuring comfortable wear.

It’s impressive how Topper and Zodiac have released three versions of what’s essentially the same watch, yet they look so different. Each piece has a distinct vibe, whether it be the color of the dial, eye-catching bezel, or different finishing methods. The watches are all available for $1,495 — what I believe is a reasonable asking price given the specs and finishing that include chronometer-certified movements, excellent bracelets, and small edition numbers. The three watches are still up for pre-order from Topper, so you still have a chance to add one to your collection before they sell out. Topper Jewelers

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Ed is a Long Island-based writer and photographer with an affinity for watches, fountain pens, EDC gear, and a great cup of coffee. He’s always looking for the best gear for the job—whether it be new watch, pen, flashlight, knife, or wallet. Ed enjoys writing because it’s an awesome (and fulfilling) way to interact with those who share the same interests.
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