Home > Technology > Watches

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Dive Watch Review: A Little Beast, a Lot of Beauty

The world of Swiss automatic watches gets real expensive real quickly. But the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf reviewed here proves you don't need to make the down payment for a house to enjoy the feeling of a durable, luxurious watch.

(Photo/Sean McCoy)
Support us! GearJunkie may earn a small commission from affiliate links in this article. Learn More

Let’s be blunt: People buy automatic luxury watches because of the way they make them feel. And even a genuinely useful tool like a diver’s watch is, in essence, functional jewelry. Sure, you can use it to calculate your dive time, but any serious diver in the modern era uses a dive computer and wears a dive watch as backup, if at all.

Recently, I had the opportunity to test drive a lovely piece, a Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression, ZO9304. After a month of regular wear, including hiking in the mountains and trips to the office, I have some insights on this classic watch that costs less than a tenth of competitors like Rolex or Omega.

Because, while $1,595 is not a small amount of money (these often sell for $1,200 or less new), it’s much more approachable than most luxury brands while offering many of the same benefits in performance.

And damn, it sure can make you feel good, too.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf watch review
(Photo/Sean McCoy)

In short: The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf is a joy to wear. It earns compliments thanks to its handsome design and colors. It runs on an STP 1-11 movement that proved to be accurate and good for daily wear. A true dive watch, it’s fully capable of depths up to 200 m and has an adjustable bezel. At a price that competes with brands like Seiko and Tudor, the Zodiac stands out with a rich history and unique appearance that will turn heads.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression


  • SKU ZO9304
  • Case size 40 mm
  • Strap width 20 mm
  • Movement STP 1-11
  • Case material Stainless steel
  • Strap color Silver
  • Case water resistance 20 atm


  • Durable sapphire crystal
  • Screw-down crown
  • Colorful appearance


  • 40-hour power reserve
  • Lume loses glow rapidly after light exposure

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Review

“What kind of watch is that?” It’s a question I’ve rarely been asked, but over the course of a month of wearing the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression, it’s one I got used to fielding.

And after briefly answering with a basic name and a few sentences about the brand’s history, I got used to the next phrase: “That’s really cool.”

The Super Sea Wolf is, as one of my fellow editors noted, a very photogenic watch. The model I tested, called the “Gulf colorway” by the brand, pops with an orange and light blue bezel around a shiny satin dial. It shipped with a five-link “jubilee” bracelet that brings some extra moxie with polished central links and brushed metal links on the outside.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf watch on wrist in mountains

The result is a watch that looks really nice. And thanks to the brand’s history — founded in 1882, it launched the Super Sea Wolf as one of the very first dive watches on the market — it comes with an authentic story.

So it’s a little snazzy, backing it up with history that stretches through popularity among soldiers during the Vietnam War. And, following its acquisition by Fossil in 2001, it reemerged as a quality, affordable dive watch with personality today.

But when I look down at my wrist, I see simply a nice, effective timepiece that stands out from the crowd. It wears very comfortably, with the 40mm case feeling just about right on my 7.5-inch wrist. Worth noting, sizing the bracelet is reportedly tricky, so it took it (and $20) to a jeweler to have it done right.

It’s fun to wear, looks good, and tells time as well as darned near any automatic watch on the market. But there are pros and cons and significant competition out there, so let’s dive into some more details.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf Compression: Swiss Value

You probably won’t see the words “Swiss” and “value” in combination very often when talking about watches. While Switzerland is the birthplace of many iconic watch brands, they just do not come cheap.

When folks tip their hats to watch values, Japanese-made Seiko gets top marks and is widely regarded as an excellent watch at a great price.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf watch review

But when searching for something unique and interesting, Zodiac doesn’t get the nod very often by watch enthusiasts. I’d argue that it should.

I spoke with Michael Pearson, the Global Brand Director for Zodiac, to learn more about the brand and what sets it apart from other brands at this price range. He noted that the brand’s history and heritage — 150 years of history and a deep connection with the military and dive communities from the 1950s through 1970s — and value, set it apart.

“My main goal when growing the brand is to be part of someone’s collection,” Pearson said. “For me, if you’re looking for a mechanical, luxury watch at an affordable price, we can be in anyone’s collection. But it’s a watch that’s meant to be worn. We want to put this watch into the field. That can be as normal as everyday life grabbing a coffee.”

I went a little further in testing the Super Sea Wolf Compression. I put it through regular, rigorous use. I wore it cycling in a downpour. I wore it backpacking multiple times. And I left it on my nightstand over the weekend enough times to have to reset it frequently, a genuine downside to mechanical watches that you won’t find in a $25 Casio or modestly priced quartz field watch or G-Shock.

But, those more affordable watches don’t dress you up in the same way as a showy watch like a Zodiac. And for those who want to expand a collection, or just dip a toe into the world of luxury watches, this is what you get with the Super Sea Wolf.

Versus the Competition

Is there a lot of competition at this price range? Darned right there is. Literally dozens of brands target the $1,500-ish price point with full lines.

Look at brands like Hamilton, Shinola, Bulova, Seiko, Tudor, and many more. Specifically, the Seiko Prospex line of divers’ watches packs renowned quality for a similar or lower price than Zodiac. And if you’re willing to spend (a lot) more, the million-ton elephant is the Rolex Submariner, which launched in the same year as the original Sea Wolf, and has become a lust object for millions of folks around the world.

So, if you’re shopping for a dive watch, you not only have plenty of options, you also have plenty of good options for both more, or less, money.

What are the downsides to the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf line? Well, a big one comes from the brand’s website. While it does share some of its history, it does a rather poor job of differentiating the various lines and limited-edition products that the brand produces.

What’s the difference between the Super Sea Wolf, Compression, and Pro models? You’ll have to dig for specs to figure it out. For those shopping Zodiac, the website really could use some fine-tuning.

And some negative reviews call out concerns around customer service, although I have not experienced this myself. From my perspective, the product itself is great, so hopefully these business-related quirks will get ironed out over time.

Zodiac Super Sea Wolf review

Where does the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf reviewed here fit in the market? Well, to me a watch like the Super Sea Wolf is a nice-looking tool watch that can handle real outdoor use.

I’ll call it into service for lighter duty, like hiking or car camping. If I’m going for a run or mountain climb, I’ll strap on a GPS sports watch like a Garmin, Suunto, or Coros. And if I’m going hunting or on another seriously dirty mission, a beater field watch like a Bertucci will do a great job, keep accurate time, and won’t make me cringe when I cover it in mud, blood, or pine pitch.

But if I’m spending my day on slightly gentler pursuits, and I want to look sharp while still wearing a useful tool that can stand up to most of what I’ll throw at it, the Zodiac is a solid choice.

Subscribe Now

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!

Join Our GearJunkie Newsletter

Get adventure news and gear reviews in your inbox!