Written in Partnership with Zelos.
Boutique watchmaker Zelos is at it again. We recently fell in love with their Abyss 2 Diving Watch and its rugged construction. This time around, they’re taking to the skies with the Zelos Experimental (ZX) Series. Each model in the range was directly inspired by the X-Plane Project, a radical line of US-made aircrafts and rockets that pushed the boundaries on aerodynamics and technology. The ZX Series also represents the first time the brand tackles automatic chronographs. It’s all going down on Kickstarter, where Zelos is already 100K over its funding goal. Suffice to say, word is definitely out on both this incredible brand and their incredible watches!
In the same manner that the X-Plane Project challenged the conventions of aviation, Zelos is taking the automatic chronograph to some truly cutting edge places. Accordingly, the ZX Series delivers a dependably formidable take on design, material, resilience and distinction. Sealing the deal is the kind of painstaking affordability that we’ve come to expect from the brand. Put simply, these chronographs are stunning.
In the material department, Zelos always brings the goods, and the ZX Series is no exception. Employed within the range are materials like titanium, marine grade bronze and 4.5 billion year old meteorite. However, that’s just skimming the surface. For instance, the ZX-8 Limited Edition includes titanium from an actual Lockheed SR-71 Blackbird on the dial. What makes the SR-71 Blackbird so special? Oh, just the fact that it was once the fastest aircraft in the world, apparently reaching over three times the speed of sound. Such indisputably high speeds cause significant increases in temperature, hence the inclusion of steadfast titanium throughout the entire plane. In honour the swift plane and its remarkable legacy, the dial itself has been purposefully left “as is”, meaning all the original marks and scratches are still intact.
Also featured in the range is the first watch case in the world to be made from Titanium Damascus. The sturdy, lightweight material is achieved by blending two types of alloys using supremely high heats and pressures. As a result of the dynamic (and volatile) process, no two Titanium Damascus watch cases are exactly the same.
On the design front, Zelos left no detail behind. That is, they explored the X-Plane Project to its fullest potential before crafting each watch. As a result, the ZX Series simply emanates with vintage perfection, along with a modern touch by way of applied indices and luminous sub-dials. Additionally, look to the custom-designed ‘Rocket’ shaped hands and ‘Nozzle’ crowns to help further distinguish each bold and beautiful chronograph from the standard fare.
For the movement, buyers can choose between premium Swiss made Valjoux 7750 or trusty Seiko VK67 Mechaquartz. The 7750 has decades of history behind it and comes in Elabore grade, making it a true sight to behold on the case back. For those looking to shave some money off the price point, consider the Seiko Mechaquartz instead. Powered by a Quartz crystal, the movement combines mechanical craftsmanship and delivers a precise reset function.
Each watch in the ZX Series includes a 43mm case, accompanied a short lug length of 49mm. While the watches might seem a little hefty at first, thanks to the lugs and materials they’re also tight, light and comfortable on the wrist. Over the watch face is domed sapphire crystal with AR coating, while the dial is multi-layered and filled with BGW9 lume. Each chronograph is also water resistant up to 100m, and paired with a Horween Chromexel leather strap. That strap, by the way, comes from the oldest active tannery in the USA. Not only is their leather beautifully rugged and smooth, but it develops a rich patina over time.
Driving home the aviation theme are some clever marketing posters whipped up by Zelos, designed in the spirit of classic military plane adverts. And for those who really like to dig deep, Zelos has also included some intensive sketches and layouts for planes like the SR-71 Blackbird over on their Kickstarter page.
Put it all together and you have another triumph from Zelos Watches. By now, such tremendous craft and distinction is merely par for the course. Indeed, Zelos has been killing it since 2014, and building every product from the ground up. They use dynamic materials to give each model its own mark, and couple lightness with fortitude like no other. Throw in an unbeatable price point and you have everything an horology lover could ask for.