BACKGROUND If you haven't yet come across Zelos, firstly where have you been?! Zelos Watches are a young, dynamic boutique watch brand based in Singapore, headed up by a talented young chap named Elshan Tang.
The Zelos watch brand is focused on bringing to market, exciting new designs that are well within the reach of the average watch collector. They have released a couple of divers prior to the Hammerhead.
There was their debut diver, the HELMSMAN then a 3000m water-resistance watch called the ABYSS. However judging by all the fuss made on social media, the Hammerhead has been their greatest triumph to date. So, let's find out why?
PACKAGING Being a watch reviewer, I do tend to lose touch a little with certain aspects of the buying process such as how much emphasis is put on packaging. After your hundredth watch, packaging can become a bit of a hindrance. But let's pretend that you actually give a monkey's about packaging.
The Hammerhead like all ZELOS models to date comes delivered in a small ZELOS-branded wooden box with a canvas roll-pouch inside. The wooden box is pretty cheap and cheerful. Sure there there's a certain element of charm to it but it isn't really up to much. Meanwhile the canvas case is actually quite nice.
If it was me, I'd scrap the lot and deliver all future divers watches in plastic hard-cases, period. As far as longevity and practically (ease of storage), they're the only way to go. Even the cheapest and nastiest of them surpasses any canvas pouch. Just my two cents worth - seeing as how you asked. :)
DIAL The art of being vintage without being vintage - How many times have I introduced or written about a “vintage-style” dive watch in the past decade, I shudder to think. Yet, it is still pretty much the best way to go - particularly in the collector’s market.
The trick is to do it covertly - to do it with some degree of originality all the while maintaining as clean and sober aesthetic as is possible. This is exactly what I'm getting when I look at the Hammerhead’s dial which was designed to be both functional yet unique.
It is made from dual layers, with the outer minute layer fully coated in BGW9 (blue) lume. The top layer is circular brushed for a lovely texture which is emphasized in sunlight. The hour markers have been custom designed to be as tall as possible to increase the depth and visual interest of the dial.
What I love about the Hammerhead’s dial: its matte black color, the perfect overall balance achieved by placing the ZELOS logo at 12 o'clock and a single line of WR-text and “black” date wheel at 6, the original handset, the prominent yellow seconds indicator with its rectangular pointer. It all works for me. What I hate about the Hammerhead’s dial; nothing!
CASE Finally something fresh in a dive watch case that is rugged yet elegant. Let's say you took a traditional cushion case and flattened off all the round edges - you still wouldn't have anything nearly as good-looking as the Hammerhead’s case. But that's actually all that was done to achieve the Hammerhead’s unique look, but you get the feeling that there was perhaps a little more to it than just that.
The mid-case has been divided (top and bottom) into polished and brushed portions. The polished surfaces are at the top of the case so as to reflect the light and give a feeling of luxury while the bottom half has a more utilitarian brushed finish. The combination is quite unlike anything I've seen before. Sure, brushed and polished surfaces are often combined but not like this.
And if you were wondering if or where the hammerhead was in Hammerhead’s case - there is one. If you view the left lateral side of the case from head on, there it is - a hammerhead’s head! See it?
BEZEL The Hammerhead is equipped with a 120-click, unidirectional rotational divers bezel with a ceramic, or Zirconium Oxide to be precise, inlay - chosen for its incredible degree of hardness of ~1500 Vickers! This has a sporty matte finish.
The ceramic bezel inlay has a lumed elapsed dive-time scale. The bezel’s action is nice and smooth with just the right amount of tightness. It has a good amount of height to it (more would always be appreciated) and is easily gripped thanks to its large pronounced bezel teeth.
CROWN This has been placed at the 4 o'clock position on the case and has been slightly recessed into its side. The crown is generously sized which along with its fluted design makes it an ergonomic delight - it’s got grip and is a pleasure to use.
It isn't quite an industry first, a couple of other brands have also done this but ZELOS have filled the engraved logo on the crown with lume. This really gives the Hammerhead a contemporary feel. Love it!
CASE-BACK The Hammerhead’s case-back is actually quite unremarkable. There are a couple of Hammerhead sharks depicted on it as you would expect but I wish they'd gone for a more distinct deep engraving - perhaps something a little more dramatic.
CRYSTAL The Hammerhead has a high double domed Sapphire crystal with an inner AR coating.
WATER-RESISTANCE The Hammerhead has a water-resistance of 1000m.
LUME C3 lume which glows green was used for the crown. Both C3 and BGW9 (blue) lume were used for the bezel, dial and hands. I love the use of different lume types. I saw some pretty cool lume shots on Instagram that an owner had made but we had no such luck trying to replicate these fantastic torch-like shots as the Hammerhead’s lume is not nearly that bright in reality. I’d rate it at average - good.
MOVEMENT The Hammerhead is powered by a Japanese made, Seiko NH35 automatic movement. The NH35 is a pretty robust and reliable little workhorse and besides that it has hacking seconds. Not sure what else I can say about it - still a Swiss movement snob at heart, sorry. :(
BRACELET I remember introducing the Hammerhead a few months back, there were a load of different versions but none looked quite so appealing as the ones on the solid Stainless steel bracelet.
The Hammerhead’s 3-link bracelet has a combination brushed and polished finish to complement its case. The polished elements on the outer and inner sides of the links with brushing on their tops. It is also equipped with a quick-adjust divers-extension clasp.
QUALITY The fit and finish of the Hammerhead is excellent. I've gone over mine with a critical eye trying to find some kind of flaw with it but I'm stumped. Of course it doesn't feel like a 2000 dollar watch or perhaps not even a 1500 dollar watch. But in its segment it's right up there.
On the WRIST Considering the Hammerhead’s rugged appearance, it is actually quite light (deceptively so). It sits nice on the wrist thanks to its reasonable dimensions and downwardly curved lugs. Of the collection, I think you’ll agree, this is probably the most subtle looking version but it actually has a loads of wrist presence. The light plays nicely on its surfaces, so if you like your watches to look a little blingy, this will do the job nicely.
FINAL THOUGHTS The Hammerhead like many dive watches these days was inspired by watches of the past. In this instance, it was the 1970s - which really shines through in its overall design.
Though, we should really put emphasis on “inspired” because that's what it was, inspired not borrowed, not copied or derived from - in other words the end result whilst unmistakably retro is original and pretty unique.
This has to be Zelos’ best looking design to date. Imho it is a lot better looking than anything they've released before. Sure, if it could have been designed to be an extreme diver like the Abyss that would have got my juices flowing a little more but you never know.
Perhaps we could persuade ZELOS to put the Hammerhead on a steroid diet and do an extreme version but until then - the Hammerhead is already a really fantastic diver. It looks good and does exactly what is says it does on the tin. My advice to ZELOS (if I may be so bold), is keep going with the Hammerhead - refine it, refresh it once in awhile but keep it as permanent fixture on the menu.