Exploring the world of watches on a budget

Zelos Mako Bronze

Zelos Watches has long been one of my favorite microbrands. Owner Elshan Tang has a knack for whipping up arresting designs like the burly Abyss2, the stylish Hammerhead, and the trippy Cosmos. He also knows when to dial it back and release something more accessible like the Swiss Automatic series. All are different, but all undoubtedly carry Zelos DNA. With the release of the new Mako, he has applied Zelos design sensibility to a vintage style diving watch, with immensely pleasing results. Zelos offers the watch in stainless steel or bronze cases with black, blue, anthracite, or meteorite dials with ceramic or bronze bezel inserts. For this review, they gave me a bronze case, black dial version with a black and blue ceramic insert.

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel rubber strap
The Mako is a 500m diver housing a Swiss Sellita SW200 automatic (26 jewels, 28.8k bph, 38-hour power reserve) in a handsome, mid-sized case. Measuring 40mm wide and 46mm long, the watch sits comfortably on my 6.5” wrist and will likely cut an appropriately retro figure on larger wrists. It is rather sedate by Zelos’s standards, lacking the sculpted or scalloped sides of others in their catalog, but it is by no means boring. A polished lug-to-lug chamfer enlivens its otherwise brushed surfaces and gently curved crown guard that sweeps from the top lug to the 4 o’clock crown is a delight.

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel rubber strap side

I need to give credit for that crown too. They resisted the urge followed by many of their competitors to make it huge, and instead kept it to a sensible 3.5mm. The guard only covers half of its height and it is free on the bottom side, so it is still easy to grip and operate, screwing down smoothly. Details like the broad fluting to match that of the bezel and a debossed and lumed logo don’t hurt either.

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel rubber strap

Topping the case is a domed box crystal that brings the total height to 15.4mm. It evokes a vintage feel but it is sapphire, not the soft acrylic that was so common back in the day. Personally, I prefer the warmth of a plastic dome, but I must confess that the hardness and scratch resistance of the Mako’s sapphire crystal is a far more popular choice. On the other side, the caseback is brushed and blasted stainless steel featuring a raised illustration of the watch’s namesake shark.

Zelos Mako bronze diver case back

The 120-click bezel is unidirectional and rock solid, moving with firm clicks and exhibiting absolutely zero wobble or back play. Its black and blue scheme is the only bi-color option in the collection (the others are either all black or bronze). C3 lume fills the engraved markers.

A guilloche texture radiates from the center of the dial. It reminds me of the wave dials on some Omega Seamasters. The pattern is entirely different of course, but it provides the same appealing shimmer, a fitting backdrop for a very busy dial. A finely delineated chapter index is separate from the dial and slightly raised. It contains small square BGW9 markers that correspond to the small round BGW9 markers on the dial. Just inside these are round primary hour markers in applied gold followed by applied gold triangles below the circles at 12, 3, and 9. Both are filled with C3 lume. The white-on-black date wheel replaces both at 6 o’clock. This just leaves room for the applied Zelos logo at the top of the dial, and “500m/1640ft” and “Automatic” in light blue below. The handset is also gold and C3, featuring slim faceted swords and a paddle second hand with a light blue tip.

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel leather strap

Like I said, there is a lot going on here, yet even though I think the triangle markers are a bit of overkill, none of it interferes with the overall legibility and all of those C3 and BGW9 lumed elements make the Mako light up like a torch at night.

Zelos Mako bronze diver lume

All Zelos watches come with an impressive kit, and this is no exception. The Mako arrived in a simple wooden presentation box and a navy blue leather, four pouch watch roll. Inside was the watch on a 20mm, tropic style, black rubber strap a signed buckle, a tan waxed leather strap, a metal Zelos warranty card, and a strap changing tool. The buckle matches the bronze case, even down to the brushed surface and polished chamfer. The tool is of typical “free gift with purchase” quality, but it did the trick, on the other hand, the watch roll is excellent and will no doubt prove quite useful.

Zelos Mako bronze diver full kit

I always appreciate it when a watch brand throws in an extra strap. The rubber tropic is a nice option when testing the Mako’s 500m limits, fits its vintage character quite well, but I much preferred leather. Its warm color and pull-up effect variation makes it an ideal pairing for the rosy bronze case. 

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel leather strap

Once again, Zelos has come through. The Mako is a tough, distinctive piece that has all the rich detail we have come to expect from their watches. Best of all, it is affordable. Steel models are now listed at their full price of $749 for a standard dial and $949 for a meteorite, but you can still get the introductory discount on the bronze models. This black and blue model is $429; meteorite raises the price to $569. That is a nice deal for a 500m diver with a Swiss auto and bunch of accessories. 

For more information or to order your own, see ZelosWatches.com. ⬩
Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel leather strap flecto

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel leather strap

Zelos Mako bronze diver black and blue bezel leather strap

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