Inspired by modern fighter jets, the Zelos Eagle is a contemporary interpretation of traditional pilot’s watches made famous by brands like IWC and Sinn.
Zelos Watches is one of the most popular microbrands in recent years. Hailing from Singapore, this homegrown brand is known to offer uniquely designed timepieces made with unconventional materials such as carbon fibre and bronze. Unlike other microbrands, Zelos doesn’t buy into the idea of producing ‘homage’ watches, but instead chose to embrace their own originality coupled with unparalleled design.
The Eagle is the fifth and latest series in Zelos’ fast-growing collection—a worthy follow-up from the wildly successful Abyss and prime example of Zelos’ brand ethos. Let’s take a look at one of the three models in the Eagle line-up, the Zelos Eagle in DLC with white numerals (E-1A)
Coming in at 42mm in case diameter, the Zelos Eagle is not uncommonly sized to most watch enthusiasts, but a closer look reveals more than what meets the eye.
The construction of the watch case features a smooth bezel and two stainless steel case finished in DLC coating. A primary case, holding the dial and movement, is housed within a skeletonised external case with two pairs of unique spider lugs. On its side, the grooves around primary case mimics the design of fighter jet afterburners while the cutouts of the skeletonised external case help eliminate weight from the 16mm thick case.
This type of three-part case construction can be found in high-end watches such as the Linde Werdelin Spido and Montblanc TimeWalker ExoTourbillon Minute Chronograph. Having handled the Montblanc, I’d say that the case of the Zelos Eagle feels similar and is well-constructed.
Flipping over the watch reveals a plate within the see-through caseback which looks like turbine on a jet engine. This is merely a design and not part of the movement. Though it would have been cooler to have a turbine-looking rotor instead.
Complete with a screw-down crown and 4mm thick double-domed sapphire crystal, the Zelos Eagle is water-resistant to 200 metres—making it suitable for swimming and even diving.
Unlike traditional pilot’s watches, the dial of the Zelos Eagle is layered. The outermost layer is a chapter ring indicating the minute markers followed by a disc on a lower layer with stencilled hour markers. Sitting below them is a sunburst layer with the Zelos logo and painted BGW9 SuperLuminova visible through the stencilled hour markers. Without a date indicator, the dial appears symmetrical and clean; an excellent choice in my opinion.
Of the three models under the Eagle collection, only the E-1A has a blue-coloured lume. The lume charges up pretty quickly under sunlight but doesn’t last very long. Making up for its short life, the lume on the E-1A is bright (brightest among the three models) and painted evenly on the dial.
The Zelos Eagle comes on a rugged leather-backed canvas strap which resembles the strap on the IWC Top Gun Miramar. It also comes with an additional tanned brown leather strap, specially for those who prefer to wear their watch on a full leather strap.
Interestingly, the buckle is not a regular tang buckle in DLC coating but a custom-designed buckle with cutouts and bevelling similar to the watch case. It is not necessary at all but this buckle definitely makes the watch a little more exciting and demonstrates Zelos’ passion for details.
Powering the Zelos Eagle is the Miyota 9015, a workhouse automatic calibre produced by Citizen. It is a hacking movement, meaning the second hand will stop when the crown is pulled out, and the crown can also be hand-wound to power up the movement.
The Miyota 9015 has a power reserve of about 42 hours and beats at 28,800bph, putting itself close in competition with the Swiss made ETA 2824 and ETA 2892. Using a Japanese calibre instead of a Swiss calibre means keeping the cost of the watch down and if required, movement replacement is much more affordable.
On the wrist, the Zelos Eagle wears nicely at around 52mm lug to lug and did not feel very heavy throughout a day’s wear. The strap is extremely comfortable around the wrist and the thickness (around 3mm thick) goes well with the thick watch case. I believe the watch was designed to fit smaller wrists with its slightly steeper lugs. Otherwise, most pilot’s watches fit rather uncomfortably for me due to their slightly flatter lug shape.
At the end of my day, the Zelos Eagle impressed me with the kind of quality timepiece a microbrand can produce. The case design is my favourite feature of the watch and it is also probably its main selling point.
Priced at US$760 for the E-1A and E-1B (both steel case with DLC coating), and US$790 for the E-1C (bronze case), you probably wouldn’t find another similarly designed timepiece at this price point.
The Zelos Eagle can be directly purchased here and also retails at Red Army Watches at ION Orchard in Singapore.
Big thanks to Elshan, Founder of Zelos Watches, for loaning us the Zelos Eagle for a test drive!