The Olympos Field is a pricey, intriguing, imperfect watch for fans of bygone design.
Zodiac Watches, founded in 1882, has been making timepieces since the presidency of Chester A. Arthur. But the last century-and-a-half have been kinder to Zodiac than to old Chester. For instance, this (originally) Swiss company’s Sea Wolf line is considered to be among the first modern dive watches, and its military credits include an endorsement by the United States Navy Seals.
And Zodiac’s latest, Olympos Field ($895), carries on this tradition.
“Inspired by the Olympos Military watches made for the British Royal Navy in the late 1960s, this modern interpretation was designed with simplicity, utility, and durability in mind,” the brand proclaimed. “Built for the modern adventurer, the Olympos Field is a more rugged take on one of our favorite legacy pieces and does exactly what it needs to — it tells time with precision and dependability.”
When the company reached out to offer a loaner for review, I was immediately intrigued. A near-luxury watch with a legitimate historical pedigree? Count me in. But as with so many things, the story gets a bit complicated.
In short: The Zodiac Olympos Field is a charming timepiece that relies on its accuracy and the understated luxury of its case and finishing. Its high price point and difficult crown present a challenge, but lovers of military history will find a lot to like here.
Zodiac Olympos Field Watch Review
- Case size: 40 mm
- Case material: 316 stainless steel
- Water resistance: 200 m
- Movement: STP 1-11 automatic
- Strap width: 20 mm
- Strap material: Leather
- Crystal type: Sapphire
- Lume: Super-LumiNova
Let’s get this out of the way immediately: Out of the box, I wasn’t terribly impressed with the Olympos Field. With a retail cost of almost $900, I was expecting the sound of a choir, or at least the ticking of angels. I decided to focus on two questions: Who is this aimed at, and what are they paying for?
To help cover the first point, here’s another blurb from Zodiac:
“Originally released in 1961, the Zodiac Olympos was a highly distinctive watch, nicknamed the ‘manta’ due to its unique manta ray-shaped case. Today’s Field reissue stays true to the watch’s heritage roots while updating the materials to suit modern trends and utility.”
So, the watch is aimed at history buffs, with a nod to current manufacturing. Sounds exactly up my alley.
And after a week with the special Worn and Wound Edition, I began to see what the fuss was about.
The Olympos’ case has a wonderful feel. It wears slim on the wrist, right down to the thin leather strap. The watch is all angles and curves, from the sides of its chassis to the slight hook of its seconds hand.
The dial took a bit to grow on me. At this kind of price point, I generally prefer applied indices as opposed to painted. But this is a field watch, so the integrated numerals are more-or-less expected.
The applied Zodiac logo helps add some depth, and the green finish gets better each time I look at it. The gold handset, too, provides a nice visual pop.
The caseback, likewise, is gorgeous. It’s so nicely polished, in fact, that it was difficult to photograph without reflecting everything in the vicinity.
Inside, the Olympos Field is running the STP 1-11 automatic movement. It allows both hand winding and hacking, and my tester ran about plus-15 seconds — per week, not per day.
That works out to around 2 seconds for each 24 hours, measuring up to the watch’s claims of military precision. And with a rate of 28,800 beats per hour, the second hand is wonderfully smooth.
The Sticking Points
Unfortunately, the watch’s crown is not as smooth. The hand winding on my tester was ok, but getting the crown to screw into place was strangely difficult. I had to apply a bit more pressure than I was comfortable with, though I appreciate the 200 m of water resistance the mechanism affords.
The Olympos’ nighttime visibility is also just adequate, Super-LumiNova or not. I was able to discern the hands in the dark, but the indices fade after a few hours.
You can still roll over and generally make out the time when you’re in bed, but for the price, I’d expect something a little better.
Zodiac Olympos Field Watch Review: Conclusion
So, after all this hemming and hawing, where do I land on the Zodiac? Let’s put it this way — with its interesting pedigree, lux-level accuracy, and beautiful hands and face, the watch is arguably worth $895.
Just not $895 of my dollars. Personally, I’m most put off by the crown. I’m a universal fan of the screw-down style, but this one is pretty rough on the thumbs.
It’s a shame really, because I genuinely like the Olympos Field. Once you get past around $600 in watches, you’re paying for the little things, like historical ties and subtle touches, as opposed to basic manufacturing know-how.
And Zodiac almost gets it right. If you like what you see here, I encourage you to test one out in person before making the final call. Because if yours winds better than mine, the rest of the package is pretty neat.