Zodiac Watches

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Zodiac Watches
  • Ariste Calame
  • Montres Zodiac SA
Company typeSubsidiary
Founded1882; 142 years ago (1882) in Le Locle, Switzerland
FounderAriste Calame
HeadquartersRichardson, Texas,
ParentFossil Group

Zodiac Watches, or simply Zodiac, is an American[1] brand of Swiss-made watches founded in 1882 by Ariste Calame in Le Locle, Switzerland. The company mostly focuses on its dive watches through its Sea Wolf line,[2] one of the first modern dive watches, which debuted in 1953, before the Rolex Submariner and after Blancpain Fifty Fathoms.[3] Although Zodiac was acquired by Fossil Group in 2001, its manufacturing remained in Bienne, Switzerland.[2] Zodiac[1] and Fossil Group are headquartered in Richardson, Texas.[4]


Vintage Sea Wolf ad from 1959

In 1882, Ariste Calame founded a workshop for the production of watches in Le Locle, Switzerland. The original name of the company was Ariste Calame and would later become Zodiac. The name Zodiac not registered until 1908, despite being used earlier by the company. The founder's son, Louis Ariste Calame, was sent to watchmaking school and took over the company in 1895.[citation needed]

The first flat pocket watch, launched in 1928, used the Zodiac calibre 1617 movement. In 1930, the brand designed and produced the first automatic sports watch and the popular Zodiac Autographic. The Autographic was self-winding with a power reserve gauge, an unbreakable crystal, and a radium dial and was water and shock resistant.[5] In 1953, Zodiac introduced the Sea Wolf as the first purpose-built "dive watch" manufactured and marketed to the masses.[6] To date, the original Sea Wolf and its successor, the early-1970s Super Sea Wolf, are considered two of the most iconic commercial dive watches.[citation needed]

With a patented crown/stem system and improved case back design, Super Sea Wolf's water pressure rating increased from 200-meter rating to 750 meters.[7] The 750-meter-rated Super Sea Wolf was introduced in the early 1970s and was used by the U.S. Navy SEALs.[8]

The Zodiac Aerospace is a popular vantage Zodiac model that takes after the original Sea Wolf's design. It was released in 1960 and is a GMT watch with a red GMT hand and 24 hours indicated on its two-colour bezel.[2]

Financial troubles and Fossil Inc. acquisition[edit]

Zodiac Seadragon watch Z02908
Sea Wolf model relaunch, 2015

In 1990, Willy Gad Monnier, formerly of TAG Heuer, purchased the Zodiac brand, but the company, Montres Zodiac SA, went bankrupt in November 1997. In September 1998, Genender International, Inc. purchased the Zodiac inventory, including their trademarks, registrations, and other assets.[9] Genender discontinued the "Point" series models, Swiss Formulas, Sea Wolf, most automatic watches, and 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.

On October 1, 2001, Fossil Inc. acquired the worldwide rights to the Zodiac brand name for approximately $4.7 million for use in watches, clocks, and other timekeeping devices.[10]

In April 2002, the new Zodiac line was introduced at the BaselWorld watch show in Switzerland, with the notable absence of any Sea Wolf model for the first time in 50 years.[citation needed]

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 (44 mm and up) and caoutchouc rubber straps denoted the bulk of watch lines, focused on[11] automotive racing (ZMX Racer), aviation (ZMX Aviator), diving (ZMX Oceanaire), and exploration (ZMX Adventurer).[7]

February 2015 marked the return of Sea Wolf, with a reissue of vintage-inspired versions of the 1954 model in two editions, "Skin Diver" and "Diver." Since the depth rating on the new Sea Wolf was the same as the original (200 meters/660 feet), the technical advancements came primarily in the form of its automatic movement: the Fossil Group-manufactured[12] STP 1-11 (Swiss Technology Production 1-11), housing 26 jewels with 44-hour power reserve.[citation needed]

Zodiac Killer[edit]

A never-identified American serial killer who operated in Northern California in the late 1960s and early 70s became known as the Zodiac Killer after coining the name himself through a series of taunting letters he sent to the press he signed using the Zodiac watch logo.[13]

The Zodiac Sea Wolf was featured in the 2007 film Zodiac, directed by David Fincher and based on Robert Graysmith's true-crime book, Zodiac. In both the book and the film, a Zodiac Sea Wolf was worn by serial killer suspect Arthur Leigh Allen.[14][15]


  1. ^ a b "Terms of Use". Zodiac Watches. August 14, 2022. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  2. ^ a b c Mulder, Eric (March 29, 2022). "The Zodiac Watch Company's History". The Vintage Watch Magazine. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  3. ^ Spencer, Michael (March 13, 2022). "The Complete Guide to Zodiac Watches". Gear Patrol. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  4. ^ "Investor FAQ". Fossil Group. August 14, 2022. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  5. ^ Piña, Zach (March 4, 2015). "Style Essential: The Dive Watch". Huckberry. Archived from the original on May 12, 2015.
  6. ^ "Company Synopsis". Vintage Zodiacs. Archived from the original on January 27, 2013.
  7. ^ a b Heaton, Jason (January 6, 2015). "A Week On The Wrist: The Zodiac Sea Wolf". Hodinkee.
  8. ^ Forster, Jack (October 21, 2015). "The Value Proposition: The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 68 Limited Edition". Hodinkee. Retrieved September 28, 2017.
  9. ^ Flamer, Keith (August 1, 1998). "Watch Watch". JCK Online.
  10. ^ "Quarterly Report Pursuant to Section 13 or 15(D) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934 for the Quarterly Period Ended: October 6, 2001" (PDF). Fossil, Inc. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2011.
  11. ^ "History of Zodiac Watches". Zodiac Watches. Archived from the original on December 7, 2016.
  12. ^ Buchanan, Norma (April 26, 2016). "Fossil Watches Made in Switzerland? Inside Fossil's Swiss Mission". WatchTime.
  13. ^ "The Zodiac Sea Wolf: Inspiration for a Serial Killer". Hodinkee. October 17, 2008. Archived from the original on December 19, 2014.
  14. ^ Weiss, Zach (March 25, 2013). "Watches on the Screen: Zodiac". WornandWound. Archived from the original on September 17, 2017.
  15. ^ Graysmith, Robert (1986). Zodiac. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 0-312-89895-9.

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