Review: Zelos Horizons GMT “Ice”

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Nestled in Zelos’ lineup amongst a sea of modern, angular, tough-as-nails tool watches is the Horizons GMT. It’s a break from Zelos’ design language, which tends to lean towards chunky angular divers with big bezels that are commonly rated to at least 1000m. Here, we have a slimmer, more subdued, but still built to take a beating 40mm GMT watch with some very interesting design details. Today, we’re looking at the “Ice” model – a 13.5mm thick watch, with a beautifully contoured case, an interesting sunburst anthracite dial, and a light blue/white dial that’s more lume than not. When I was offered the Horizons GMT to check out for review, I was expecting something big and chunky but was pleasantly surprised when the watch showed up. It still maintains that Zelos attitude, but a bit more scaled back and a lot more refined. Most importantly, it doesn’t lose the fun factor that runs so deep in the brand’s catalog. Let’s take a close at this slim, comfortable, and modern GMT from a brand that’s really hit their stride.

$899

Review: Zelos Horizons GMT “Ice”

Case
Stainless Steel
Movement
ETA 2893-2
Dial
Sunburst Anthracite Gray
Lume
Yes
Lens
Box Sapphire
Strap
Bracelet + Rubber
Water Resistance
200m
Dimensions
40 x 45mm
Thickness
13.5mm
Lug Width
20mm
Crown
Screw-down
Warranty
Yes
Price
$899

Case

If you were to randomly select a watch from the Zelos lineup, you’d most likely end up with a large dive watch in an angular brushed case. There’s nothing wrong with that at all. Zelos has made their name in the world of affordable dive watches that punch well above their weight. Typically, they’ll have higher water resistance ratings, use some exotic materials (like meteorite on the dial), and feature some really nice dial work and finishing. The Horizons GMT goes in a different direction with the case design. It is a moderately sized, low-key, and comfortable watch that retains some of that signature Zelos design language. You don’t have to worry about water either, the Horizons maintains a very generous 200m of water resistance.

40mm is an excellent size for a 200m dive-inspired watch case. With a lug-to-lug of 45mm and an overall thickness of 13.5mm (11mm case, 2.5mm box sapphire), the Horizons is an ideal size for nearly any wrist. It’s not just about the measurements though, the proportions and curves of the 316L stainless steel case go a long way in making it very wearable. In profile, the balance between each of the case elements makes for a snug, contoured fit on the wrist. Let’s break it down a little further.

When looking at the case from the side, there are four main elements. Up top, you’ve got 2.5mm of box sapphire crystal. Since the crystal is clear, visually, it doesn’t add much to the appearance of overall thickness. Moving down the case, there’s a chunky, matte bezel with alternating sections of cut grooves. The mid-case is curved from lug to lug with a wide polished chamfer on the top and bottom with a lightly brushed surface in between. This design really helps keep the slim appearance of the case, and the undercuts in the section help the watch settle nicely into your wrist when bent.

At 3 o’clock, there’s a textured screw down crown with the Zelos “Z” logo adorning the flat surface on the side. Finally, the case back hangs underneath the mid-case but isn’t really all that visible since it’s spending most of its time nestled into your wrist. For being 13.5mm thick, the Horizons hides that thickness well. Several different elements with different finishing techniques go a long way in keeping thickness at bay. Zelos did an excellent job on the Horizons, it definitely appears thinner than the measurements imply.

From the top-down, the dial takes up most of the visual real estate. It’s surrounded by a bi-directional 48-click bezel. In a world of 60- and 120-click bezels, 48 felt odd, but there are two clicks per hour on the 24-hour GMT scale. Action on the bezel is just okay. It’s not particularly snappy and it’s a bit difficult to turn. On the model in for review, there’s an “ice” bezel insert made from lumed sapphire. The top half is light blue with white numerals, while the bottom is white with light blue numerals. All of the white surfaces are lumed which gives off a really cool look in the dark, but renders it nearly illegible in the day time. Other colorways in the lineup are far more legible (the Midnight Blue looks great), and if reading the GMT scale on your GMT watch is important (it should be), maybe check out the other models.

The case bumps out a little on either side of the bezel, showing off that nice polished chamfer I mentioned earlier. I wouldn’t call the lugs stubby or short, but they’re not long either. Right in the middle, they stick out enough for strap clearance, but not so much that they throw the watch out of proportion. The top surface of the lugs is finished with a light circular brushing that follows the curve of the bezel. On the inner border between lug and bracelet, there’s a fine polished bezel that adds just a tiny pop of shine to break up the transition between case and end link.

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Dial + Hands

I’m a sucker for a good sunburst finish, and that on the Zelos Horizons is simply wonderful to take in. On the “Ice” model, the dial is a deep anthracite gray. The sunburst finish varies from a bright silver, to a near-black gray. When you move the watch around, the light catches the brushed pattern and really shows off the brushing technique present on the dial. Vintage dive-inspired indices surround the dial. At 12, 3, and 9 there are large triangles, each filled with a heavy hit of C3 SuperLuminova, and encased by angled and polished silver edges. For the hour markers in between, there are rectangles treated in the same fashion.

Small lumed hash marks are present in between each hour marker, but the amount of markers varies depending on what indices they’re in between. If you zoom in on one of the dial pictures, you’ll notice that between a triangle index and a rectangle index, there are three hash marks. In between each rectangle, there are four. This alternating pattern is a necessity because of the wider cardinal indices, but I can’t really get over it. It bugs me. I would have liked to see a thinner triangle used in order to keep the minutes scale in check. The bottom of the dial throws all hash mark caution to the wind. Between 5 and 7 there’s a straight run of nine markings. The asymmetry in these minute markings is a weird quirk of the design. Located at 6, you’ll find a generously sized date display inside of a window with a clean-cut angle surrounding it. I appreciate the matching of the date wheel to the dial, but the hash marks here just don’t make much sense.

The handset used are a slimmed-down version of hands seen on other Zelos models. The hour and minute hand are straight most of the way through, with some interesting angles at either point. They don’t fall into any of the main categories of handsets, but they look good and are quite easy to read. Like the indices, they’re silver with C3 lume inside, and they’re nice and easy to read, day or night. Sweeping around the dial, the seconds hand has some heavy vintage vibes thanks to the trapezoidal lume plot towards the tip.

Since we’re looking at a GMT watch, there is another challenger in the hand arena in the form of a bright orange arrowhead, filled with lume and mounted on a long stick hand. The orange is a great choice for the gray dial, as it really pops. However, there’s some text on the dial just above the date window that leans more red than it does orange. The shade is close enough to wonder if they’re supposed to be the same, but off enough to tell the difference. In a perfect world, the dial text would match the bright orange hand.

The GMT hand points to a scale on the rehaut which is rendered in orange and white. The numerals used are very small, and the angle of the rehaut combined with the distortion of the box sapphire crystal makes them very hard to read. Between the ice-themed bezel and really low-key scale on the dial itself, reading the GMT hand is pretty much impossible. By the time you squint enough to read the bezel or get the angle just right to see the rehaut, you could have ran the mental math to calculate the time zone you’re trying to read. Fortunately, this legibility issue only affects the Ice model that we have in for review. The other colorways (white dial w/ black /white/orange accents, blue dial with black/blue/yellow accents to name a few) are much easier to read.

I feel like I’m really giving this dial a beating, but I can appreciate that it’s fun, funky and different. If you’re a fan of lume, the bezel is just plain great when the lights go out. If you’re looking for the most legible watch out there, maybe pick up a Sinn or something similar. On the wrist, this watch is bright, colorful, interesting in different light, and the small orange pops of color are enjoyable. Depending on where you like your legibility to fun factor ratio on a given watch, this colorway may or may not be for you. Either way, the finishing on the indices and brushed sunburst dial are executed to a high degree, especially for the price range.

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Movement

Through the sapphire case back, you’ll see an ETA 2893 GMT movement doing its thing. The movement is Elaboré grade, meaning it has some extra frills thrown in on the finishing like blued screws. I’ve reviewed a few “caller” GMTs with this movement, and I’ve found it to be plenty satisfactory. It has 21 jewels throughout, a 42-hour power reserve, and a beat rate of 28,800bph. Zelos opted for a custom rotor that’s etched with a map of the globe on a coppery gold base metal. There’s a date display at 6, which is nicely integrated into the rest of the dial. To operate the GMT function, all you have to do is unscrew the crown, pull it to the first position, and turn it clockwise. The GMT hand gently clicks into place at each hour designation.

If you’ve been paying attention to message boards and discussions peppered across the internet, many will refer to this style of movement as a “caller” GMT rather than a “true” GMT. A “caller” is where the GMT hand is jumped, while with a “true” GMT, the local hour hand jumps. The former is more convenient for those sitting at a desk, while the latter is more suited to a jet-setting lifestyle where the main hour hand changes with your location, and the GMT hand stays at your local time. Most of my time is spent in a single time zone, but I do work with others located across the States, so the GMT hand as a quick reference to another time zone does come in handy. Even if you’re not a frequent traveler, a GMT movement is still a fun piece of horology to have in your collection.

Strap + Wearability

You’ll have the pleasure of wearing the Horizons GMT on the stainless steel bracelet or the included tropic-style rubber strap. The bracelet is a 316L stainless steel three-link bracelet with a flip-lock clasp keeping it securely closed. There’s a gentle taper from 20mm to 18mm from lug to clasp that helps keep it the bulk down on wrist. The first thing I noticed after sizing the bracelet was how comfortable and balanced it felt on wrist. It’s not immediately apparent, but each link has a slightly curved bevel between the top and side surface of the link. The brushing on the underside is smooth, and also contributes to the overall comfort level of the bracelet. Keeping everything closed is a beefy stainless steel clasp with six micro-adjust holes to dial in your perfect fit (or adjust on the fly). It stays closed thanks to a flip-lock mechanism, with the smaller security clasp proudly sporting the Zelos logo. Overall, the bracelet feels high quality with excellent finishing and features. I really appreciated the attached solid end links, as it’s one less thing to lose when changing straps. Zelos really nailed the bracelet.

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There’s also a tropic style rubber strap that comes with the Horizons GMT. It matches the loose dive theme of the watch quite well. The strap is just fine. It’s nice and flexible with the telltale basket weave pattern up top and ample channels underneath for water to drain away. While the custom buckle is certainly high quality, it’s a little too chunky for me, especially considering the svelte nature of the watch. While I prefer the bracelet, it’s a nice add-on to the package of what I already consider a good value watch.

Conclusion

Zelos’ Horizons GMT is a fun watch that would make an ideal companion on your summer vacation. Ample water resistance, a slim and svelte 40mm case, and fun colors on the dial. While the Ice colorway won’t win any awards in the legibility department, the light blue and lumed bezel with the orange dial accents really make for an enjoyable watch. The finishing and design punch well above their weight, and I find the $899 asking price reasonable, especially considering the Elaboré grade ETA movement inside. I’m happy to see Zelos take a departure from their angular and modern dive watches with the Horizons GMT. Zelos continues to put out interesting and affordable watches. While they weren’t at the top of my watch list, the time I spent with the Horizons GMT definitely bumped the brand up quite a bit. Zelos

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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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