Zelos Hammerhead

When I previewed the Zelos Hammerhead, I recommended it without hesitation based on my many positive experiences with their products. Since then, I've been able to handle two Hammerheads. The first was a bronze model displayed at the Metro DC Microbrand Meetup, and the second was stainless steel version featured in this review. Both watches had meteorite dials. These hands-on experiences validated my early enthusiasm. The Hammerhead is a slick, aggressive watch that delivers excellent value for the money.


From the very beginning, Zelos has taken a distinctive approach characterized by sculpted cases, intricate multi-layered dials, and uncommon combinations of finishes, materials, and surface details. The Hammerhead continues on this path, starting with a 44mm faceted cushion case that is 14.5mm thick, towering to 17.5mm when you include the tall, double-domed and AR coated sapphire crystal. The eight-sided case is deceptively complex. A series of sheer angles on the case sides and lugs yields 24 distinct faces that surround the case, 26 if you include the top surface and case back. These are further distinguished with a combination of finishes, starting with a circular brushing on top, then polished on the upper half of the sides, and again brushed on the lower section.


The sequence continues on the chiseled link bracelet where the top surfaces are brushed while the sides and angular cuts are polished, creating a delightful glittering effect reminiscent of certain 1970's vintage Seiko bracelets. The bracelet is a quality piece, with solid, fitted end links, single-headed screw pins, and a signed, push-button diver's clasp with a ratcheting wetsuit extension. The clasp is great, and at just over 7mm thick, a good match for the bracelet. My only quibble is that it lacks micro adjustments. Of course, one could use the ratchet for fine tuning the size, but it is a trade-off.


The Hammerhead is a chunky beast, but integrated lugs keep the length to a very manageable 49mm. As a result, the watch comes off smaller than you might expect and I had no issues wearing it on my 6.5" wrist. It is certainly thick, but not at all out of line for a dive watch. All that mass sets high expectations for seaworthiness so it should come as no surprise that the Hammerhead delivers a 1000m rating; however, it is interesting to note that it does not have a helium release valve. These have become somewhat faddish as of late, but unless you are a saturation diver in a mixed-gas environment, you won't miss it (and probably not even then).


In keeping with the rest of the watch, the crown and bezel are generously proportioned. The bezel is ringed with fat cogs. It rises high over the case and moves through its 120-click rotation without back play. The meteorite model has a dark gray ceramic insert with an engraved and lume-filled dive timer. This is a big plus in my book, greatly improving both utility and the attractiveness. A 12-sided polished ring surrounding the crystal is a subtle touch of brightwork.


I appreciate the recessed crown at 4 o'clock. It's massive size, and deep grooves provide for easy operation, but it would have looked like an ungainly appendage had it been simply tacked onto the outer surface. Instead, it tucks away when screwed down, protruding only slightly beyond the case without upsetting its overall proportions.


With all of the effort on the case, Zelos did not neglect the dial. A BWG9 treated outer ring contains the minute index. Angular applied and polished hour markers rise high above and taper to meet the primary dial layer. This surface has a sunburst effect on the solid color versions, but the meteorite dial is something else entirely, a shimmering graphite gray with a unique cross-hatch texture. I have seen other meteorite watches and noticed that the color and reflection can obscure steel elements, often making the watch hard to read. In this case, a generous application of C3 SuperLuminova on the markers and semi-skeletonized bar hands provides more than ample contrast. The bright yellow, paddle tipped second hand doesn't hurt either. There is no extraneous text on the dial, only an applied "Z" logo on to and a discreet "1000M." A white-on-black date window partially displaces the marker at 6 o'clock. It is a beautiful dial that is enhanced by its exotic material, but the clean, multidimensional layout is equally appealing in its solid color, sunray variants. 

Now, all of that just covers the look in daylight. For some real fun, charge up the lume,  turn out the lights, and enjoy the show. The hands, markers, index, bezel, and crown all pop to life for a stunning effect.


A watch called "Hammerhead" must have its namesake somewhere. You will find not one, but two of the fierce beasts engraved on the case back. Behind it, is the tried and true Seiko NH35 automatic (24 jewels, 21.6k bph). It isn't the sexiest, but it is sturdy, reliable, easily repaired, and relatively inexpensive. Overall, a solid choice for a sport watch.


Zelos always includes a little something extra with their watches; with the Hammerhead, they deliver several. Watches arrive in a leather-trimmed, four and a half pocket, canvas watch roll containing a strap tool, warranty card, a gray canvas strap, and a tan leather strap. The tool is typical of the "free gift" variety; kind of short and tipped with a fork at one end and a pin at the other. The fork comes in handy, but in the absence of drilled lugs, the pin does not. I rather wish there was a screwdriver for the links instead.


Both straps were very nice, and they include a signed Zelos buckle as well. The warm tan color of the leather is a pleasant contrast to the cold silver and gray in the watch head. I like the look of the gray canvas as well. Others criticized the lack of contrast and declared the grays on the dial, bezel, and strap to be uncomfortably close but short of a match. Now, I think I have a pretty good eye for color and I'm kind of a stickler for that sort of thing, but I had no such complaint. Still, the canvas is just one of three options, so even if it is not your favorite, you can't argue with a free strap.


The Hammerhead starts a $649 for a black dial, black bezel model, which is a good price for a watch of this caliber, even without the extra goodies. Damascus bezel and meteorite dial versions sell for $849 and are perilously close to selling out. All the bronze case watches are long gone. For more information or the order you own (and I suggest you act quickly), visit ZelosWatches.com. ⬩







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