#LookCloser – Dive Report – Zelos Hammerhead V3 Steel Teal

Frank (@frendymgee)

Introduction

The latest iteration of the Zelos Hammerhead, the Hammerhead V3 Teal Fume, from the microbrand out of Singapore landed on my doorstep for a field review earlier this year. I have owned a number of Zelos watches in the past including the Mako, Avant, and an earlier issue of this Hammerhead (in titanium), and have always been able to see the constant progression between models. When lining up potential watches to review while diving this year, Zelos immediately jumped to mind as a brand to highlight. Their releases continuously push the boundaries of what can be accomplished in the microbrand space, whether it is experimenting with different materials, or even launching their very own tourbillon. So lets talk about the Hammerhead that I have in the metal. A full list of specs will be at the bottom but I will highlight what has jumped out to me. 

Specifications

  • Case: 44mm Diameter, 22mm Lug width, 48mm Lug to Lug Length, 13mm thickness without crystal
  • Water Resistance: 300m
  • Date Window: 6 o’clock position, colour matched date wheel
  • Crystal: Sapphire, Double domed with inner AR coating
  • Bezel Insert: Ceramic/SS depending on model, fully lumed
  • Movement: Seiko NH35 with color matched date wheel
  • Dial: Sunburst with C3 X1 and BGW9 lume
  • Crown: Signed crown with lume
  • Bracelet: 316L SS with quick adjust clasp with dive extension clasp
  • Price: USD 449

Overview

The watch is an absolute unit on the wrist in terms of size and heft, but the short lug to lug allows the watch to remain wearable even for smaller wrists. Although the bracelet is pretty great, I preferred the watch on a rubber Barton or a NATO style because my preferences are for a lighter watch on wrist. The case is a good crossover between that of a tourneau case seen by the likes of a Doxa, a Seiko Turtle cushion case, and something all their own with the inclusion of sharp edges and dodecagonal shape (I am an engineer, but yes, I too needed to google what a 12 sided polygon is called, so don’t you feel bad). The lugs curve down and meet the bottom of the caseback before ending, meaning the watch will sit completely flat against your wrist. The entire case is brushed steel, however, because of the sharp edges it can appear polished depending on the lighting. The bottom of the case is a hair higher than the bottom of the caseback in profile and the edge of the case is sharp, following the same design language as the other edges. The sharpness of the case at this location can cause some mild discomfort when articulating your wrist, this was a small complaint I had when handling the previous version of the Hammerhead too. This is only noticeable when the watch is on the bracelet or rubber but a strap change to NATO solves this problem. For future iterations, I would prefer to see a slight chamfer at the bottom of the case to reduce the potential chafing against wrist and increase comfort. 


Bracelet

The dive extension clap seen above I found to be an added value on these hot Denver summer days. The mechanism itself requires you to take the watch off the wrist, which is a slight inconvenience, but at this price point you cannot expect much more. If you shop around in this range or even a little higher you will find there are less than a handful of options that include this type of clasp. The clasp did not allow for the amount of extension I required for my 7mm wet suit (mountain water is COLD) so during this I opted for a NATO. Although I didn’t test this, I am sure it is adequate for a 3mm suit which is much more common for tropical diving and is what I wore during my Lorier field review.

The bracelet is a solid stainless steel with edges following the same multiple-edged polygonal design language. The end links are solid and the bracelet drops off at 90 degrees from the case, accentuating the 48mm lug width and allowing the watch to accommodate smaller wrists. At the case, there are quick release spring bars built into the end links of the bracelet. I found the bars on this review model to be a hair too short, and given enough pressure they would pop off. I am assuming that this is a small defect on the review model and not something that is likely to be seen in the production models (I checked with a few friends that have purchased one to be sure) but is worth mentioning. If we work under the assumption that this was corrected for production pieces, it is a great addition to the watch. Quick release spring bars allow you to swap the bracelet without use of a tool or risk of scratching the lugs.


Caseback

On the caseback you will find a detailed depiction of a hammerhead shark in polished steel against a bead blasted background. I am always a sucker for a well done case back and Zelos always packs a punch in this department. By continuously doing this they hold the market accountable as brands should care about all the areas of the watch and not just what is immediately visible. The caseback is a perfect treat for just the owner to appreciate, unannounced to casual onlookers.

Dial

The teal sunburst dial sings with even just a small amount of light, and the oversized hands and lume plots allow for easy legibility. The date remains out of sight unless you are looking for it due to the meticulous color matching done by Zelos. It is truly a wonder how Zelos are able to put out a watch at $449 that accomplishes a better date application than watches in the multi-thousand dollar range; it speaks to the value you get when you decide to purchase a microbrand watch.


I believe that is enough about the watch itself, this is meant to be a field review. So let’s get wet.


Diving with the Hammerhead

This story takes us to the bottom of a frigid Colorado reservoir. Water temperature of 50 degrees and dropping with every bit of added depth. I coaxed fiancée (herein after referred to as Kenzie) to wade out into the murky green massive ice bath with promises of finding a sunken bi-plane and some post dive chipotle. Spoiler alert, she got neither. There was a storm the night before and visibility was absolutely horrendous. We waddled into the cold water in our thick 7mm full wetsuits equipped with the latest and greatest of micro brand divers to brave the less than ideal conditions. Sitting at about 45ft and a few hundred feet off shore, there is supposedly a sunken bi-plane that I thought would make for phenomenal pictures with the ever vibrant teal Zelos. Due to the 3ft of visibility, the teal dial and loads of crayfish were the highlight of the dive.

When conditions are this poor, you must stay within physical reach of your dive buddy or risk losing them. Kenzie utilized the Hammerheads dive bezel in addition to counting flutter kicks in an attempt to gauge distance. Meanwhile I remained vigilantly staring at my underwater compass desperately trying to maintain the heading required to find the bi-plane. The watch proved to be waterproof (at least to 20 meters) and a perfect companion for a stressful dive like this. When conditions are less than adequate the absolute last thing you want to concern yourself with is your back up dive timer. A watch that can hold its own and is there when you need it and does not require additional consideration is a must. The Hammerhead passed this test with flying colors. During use you are met with an incredibly stiff and precise bezel, maintaining grip is not a problem due to the proportion of bezel to case. Your fingers will slide to the bezel from the case regardless of gripping position. The turning of the bezel underwater did not prove to be difficult with gloves on and is also able to be done above water with ease. So what does the teal sunburst dial look like at depth?

Here is a color by depth chart that indicates what colors are visible at given depth. Without getting too scientific, different colors are filtered out as you descend into greater depths until pretty much everything (without added light) is colorless. The teal of the Hammerhead was noticeably fainter at around 40ft, however, because the dial is already blue, you do not really notice the change. The dial tends to blend into the surroundings because everything else is also blue. Although in this particular instance, everything appeared green (lol). 

Around 45 minutes went by as clumsily meandered through the cold water looking for the bi-plane. Every passing minute made it abundantly clear, we were not going to find anything. Even bad dives are better than no dives, we transitioned to playing with the massive cray fish and performing sub-aquatic acrobatic maneuvers. Despite my superior athletic ability, Kenzie far out shines me in this field. A few more minutes went by and we defeatedly returned to the shore. The group of nearby that was participating in a men’s water polo league locked eyes with us as we fumbled with our fins and came out of the water like aliens. The only thought in either of our minds was “wow those people are surely crazy”.


Conclusion

Despite our massive failure to complete our secondary dive objective, what are my final thoughts on the Zelos Hammerhead? Plunging into the water with a dive watch is a whimsical experience. One does this for the nostalgia, and enjoyment. All the greater reason to have one with you, especially during a stressful dive. The mechanical timepiece strapped to Kenzie’s wrist was a constant reminder that despite the circumstance, we were still out there for fun. Pretty much any dive watch $50 and up will maintain water tightness and function as a timing instrument, so what should you use as your deciding factor? To me, this comes back to the above words about a fun and whimsical experience. The Hammerhead shines in this regard. The teal dial and massive wrist presence never failed to bring a smile to my face. So much so, that a little air would even leak out of my regulator along with a small chuckle. Whether diving or just merely heading out for groceries, when looking down at the dial and massive hands I couldn’t help but feel similarly. For me, I would think of those moments giggling to myself through my regulator with the giddiness of a child, but had I not dove with it? Or not been a diver at all? This would definitely be a watch that would let me pretend, at least while it was on wrist.

PS. Special thanks to Zelos for the incredible patience while I struggled to finish this review. To KC for editing my babbling nonsense, and finally Marsh continuing to publish my work despite me giving you riddling anxiety with every keystroke I make. Leave a comment or drop @Marsh_kai a line on Instagram if you would like him to publish my article “WIS Tips to Getting Robbed Abroad”


For more info on the Zelos Hammerhead, check them out here.

For Team Matick,

Frank (@frendymgee)

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