Kiss Drummer Eric Singer Co-Designs Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition
While Zodiac isn’t an obvious brand for us to feature on Quill & Pad, when I spoke to Kiss drummer Eric Singer at Baselworld and he excitedly told me that he had co-designed a new watch, I was intrigued.
Singer has a great eye when it comes to all that is good (and not so good) about watches, both modern and vintage, and why certain designs work or don’t work.
The other designer of the watch Singer had been working on was Rob Caplan of Topper Jewelers and it is part of a special edition just for the California-based store. This is not the first watch that that duo has worked on for the store’s offerings.
In fact, it was while the two were working on the design details of the first special edition watch for Toppers, the Oris Divers Sixty-Five Topper Edition, that the idea for the Zodiac came about naturally.
Singer had just bought some old Zodiac diver’s watches earlier in 2017. “Timing is everything,” he quipped.
He had also acquired a new Zodiac diver’s watch in 2017, Reference Z09265, the Super Sea Wolf 53 Chronometer, which he named part of his top ten watches of Baselworld 2017.
Singer is a big fan of Zodiac’s recent dive watch heritage exploration, and he is a big fan of diver’s watches altogether. “Like 99.9 percent of all guys, I’m a desk diver,” he laughed. “I just love the look of tool watches.”
Singer also admits to being a fan of the retro look currently all the rage when it’s done well and makes sense. Cool 1970s visuals and colors are things that he especially relates to.
“You gravitate toward your style, your era,” he told me.
He also very much appreciates timepieces accessible to regular guys, who may or may not be collectors. Affordability is often an important factor in Singer’s watch-buying decisions.
The special attributes of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition
During our talks, I learned that Zodiac had had a real diver’s watch in its collection in 1953, which is relatively early timing for diver’s watches: Blancpain’s Fifty Fathoms, generally hailed as the first purpose-built diver’s watch, came out in 1953. And Doxa began its professional-grade Sub project in 1964, making Zodiac one of the first two companies to bring out professional diver’s watches in the history of the watch industry.
While the original Zodiac diver is no longer in the collection, this special edition comes close to the feel of the original, which Singer pulled out of his pocket to show me as we were talking.
Important to both Singer and Caplan was to adhere to the tradition of the orange dive hand, to replicate the look of the original 1950s Bakelite bezels, and to make sure that the automatic movement was chronometer certified for accuracy. And it was important to keep a date window off the dial.
The orange minute hand, which is the important one divers use to time their dives, contrasts legibly against the backdrop of the black or silver dial (depending on which of the two editions is chosen). The orange color is also visible on the bezel markings, the minute scale around the flange, and as a border surrounding the Super-LumiNova-filled hour markers.
While orange was selected for its high visibility, the tone utilized here is also quite attractive as a design element, and Singer revealed that he particularly loves this vivid color.
The look of the unidirectionally rotating bezel here well (and nostalgically) replicates the original Bakelite bezel featuring radium-filled numerals. Neither Bakelite nor radium is used in modern watches; Bakelite turned out to be brittle in comparison to modern materials, and radioactive radium turned out to be detrimental to the health of watchmakers and watch wearers alike. Radium is commonly replaced today by Super-LumiNova (see Radium Watch Dials And Radium Girls: Who Would Have Thought That ‘Eating’ Radioactive Material Was Deadly?). The look is recreated using an anti-reflective, scratch-resistant K1 mineral crystal top ring, while the main crystal is synthetic sapphire, a modern standard.
It is interesting to note that the particular color scheme of the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper has never existed without a date window at Zodiac. This was extremely important to both Singer and Caplan as professional diver’s watches do not have date windows (nor does it make sense to have them). In fact, not including a date window was quite possibly the main ingredient in the pair’s co-designed wristwatch.
The automatic movement used is Caliber STP3-13-3, a Swiss made, C.O.S.C.-certified, Fossil ETA clone. There is however one very big difference in this movement: the adjustment of its rate is much easier thanks to the inclusion of a swan-neck regulation system. Finishing is also a step above standard with perlage, chemically blued screws, and even a chemically blued swan-neck spring, all commensurate with a relatively affordable price of $1,495.
How the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition wears
Ian and I had the pleasure of spending a day at Baselworld wearing one of the editions each.
I wore the silver addition, which looked almost white to me and therefore perhaps slightly more feminine. I also felt that the orange popped a lot more against the backdrop of the silver dial and white background of the bezel more than the black edition.
Ian wore the black addition, which suited him well.
The 40 mm stainless steel case was comfortable to wear, its size making it almost unisex. It is water resistant, partially thanks to the a screw-down crown, to a very healthy 200 meters.
The bracelet was comfortable, and I was pleased to see that the clasp was spring loaded to ensure a comfortable fit no matter the time of year or whether you are underwater or on the beach. Wrist sizes changes almost imperceptibly with temperature and pressure, which can affect the comfort of a bracelet.
I was also pleased to see that some of my colleagues zeroed right in on the watch on my wrist as I walked the halls of Baselworld, recognizing it for what it was and making appreciative remarks.
I could well envision wearing this as a sports watch, relishing the fact that one of my favorite drummers of all time was one of the co-designers of it.
For more information please visit www.topperjewelers.com/blogarticlezodiac-super-sea-wolf-topper-edition.
Quick Facts Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Topper Edition
Case: 40 x 11 mm, stainless steel, screw-down crown, water-resistant to 200 m
Movement: automatic Caliber STP 3-13-3 with 44-hour power reserve and official C.O.S.C. chronometer certification
Functions: hours, minutes, seconds
Limitation: 20 pieces each in silver and black dials