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The History Of Zodiac Watch

Zodiac Watches are a brand of Swiss timepieces. The Zodiac watch company was founded by Ariste Calame in 1882 in the beautiful town of Le Locle, Switzerland. Calame had a proud lineage resulting from a long line of master watch makers in his family.  Wanting to follow in his father’s footsteps, Calame set up his own watch workshop where he focused on creating a timepiece which was original and dynamic. He believed that high quality control and managing all designs through to production and even choosing the tools by which the watch would be crafted was the key to achieve this objective.  The original name of the company was Ariste Calame and would later become Zodiac. Zodiac watches started production in 1908, the same year the company name was registered.

The founder’s son, Louis Ariste Calame, was sent to watchmaking school, and then began to participate in the business in 1895, and at the age of 20 he took over the business during that year.

The first flat pocket watch was launched to the public in 1928, and used the unique Zodiac calibre 1617 movement. In 1930 the brand designed and produced the first automatic sports watch, and then produced the popular Zodiac Autographic. The Autographic was self-winding with a power reserve gauge, an unbreakable crystal, and a radium dial, and was also water and shock resistant. 

In 1953 Zodiac introduced the Sea Wolf as the world’s first purpose-built “dive watch” manufactured and marketed to the masses. To date, the original Sea Wolf, and its successor, the early-1970s Super Sea Wolf, are widely considered two of the most iconic commercial dive watches in history.

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With a patented crown/stem system and improved case back design, Super Sea Wolf’s water pressure rating increased from its predecessor’s 200-meter rating to 750 meters. When the 750-meter-rated Super Sea Wolf as introduced in the early 1970s, the U.S. Navy SEALs adopted it, as Zodiac announced in magazine ads of the day.

Zodiac took the world by storm in 1969 with the introduction of one of its most celebrated designs: the Astrographic. This unique model features mysterious floating minute and hour hands and a small red moon that orbits the dial while counting the seconds. If you’ve ever heard of the Zodiac Killer and wondered if there is any correlation between the serial killer and the brand well wonder no more.  

history of zodiac watch

The Zodiac watch cross-circle symbol was the same symbol used by the serial killer who terrorized Northern California in the late 1960s. The Zodiac killer coined his name in a series of taunting letters he sent to the press which he signed using the Zodiac watch symbol. The popular Zodiac Sea Wolf model was featured in the 2007 film Zodiac, which was directed by David Fincher and was based on Robert Graysmith’s non-fiction book of the same name. In both the book and the film, a Zodiac Sea Wolf was worn by murder suspect Arthur Leigh Allen.

In 1990, Willy Gad Monnier, formerly of Tag Heuer purchased the Zodiac brand, however his company, Montres Zodiac SA, went bankrupt in November 1997.

In September 1998, Genender International, Inc. purchased the Zodiac inventory including their trademarks and registrations and other assets.  Genender discontinued all of the “Point” series models, the Swiss Formulas, the Sea Wolf, and most automatic watches and all of the Zodiac automatic chronographs. The only two 1990s models kept were the Super Sea Wolf and the Marine Life, both of which were updated with new metal bands.

Zodiac watches have certainly gone the distance having existed for over 120 years but October 1, 2001 marked a significant change for the brand when it was bought by The Fossil Group, one of the watch manufacturing giants for approximately $4.7 million. This was a positive move however as Fossil has helped modernize and adapt the brand according to what costumers want today. In February 2010, Fossil Inc. launched the ZMX (Zodiac Mission Extreme) line to reflect a new segment of sports and outdoor enthusiasts. The much larger case sizes (44mm and up) and natural rubber straps denoted the bulk of this line, focused on automotive racing (ZMX Racer), aviation (ZMX Aviator), diving (ZMX Oceanaire) and exploration (ZMX Adventurer).

In 2014 Zodiac re-imagines heritage styles with the relaunch of the sea dragon, and the astrographic and not long after in February of 2015 marked the return of the brand’s iconic Sea Wolf model, reissuing “vintage-inspired” versions of the 1953 model in two editions, “Skin Diver” and “Diver.” Since the depth rating on the new version of the Sea Wolf is the same as the original (200 meters/660 feet). Zodiac is a brand that really has progressed throughout the years. Paying intrinsic attention to craftsmanship, Zodiac watches are a prime example of innovation and are continually improving their styles and designs, providing customers with the ultimate watch.

Times Ticking has been in operation for more than 30 years, since 1982. We have performed watch repair for customers both locally and internationally. If it Ticks! We KNOW it! Our team of watch repair technicians have a combined experience in watchmaking of over 120 years.