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Vintage Mechanical Timepieces

Watch Snippets: Zodiac Aerospace GMT

Watch SnippetsCraig MooreComment

Anyone who has been a frequent visitor to the site over the past two years knows that we love Zodiac as a brand. They created some truly stellar pieces in the 1960’s-70’s including chronographs, divers, and other multifunction tool watches. If you read our article on Top 5 under 1K I mentioned how the Aerospace GMT is one of our absolute favorites at this price point. So let's get into it!

 Zodiac Aerospace GMT with a black gloss dial and red/ faded red bakelite bezel

Zodiac Aerospace GMT with a black gloss dial and red/ faded red bakelite bezel

In the mid to late 1950’s, Zodiac had much success with the Sea Wolf, one of the first purpose made dive watches to hit the market. Something unlike other divers of the time with its slim and well-proportioned case that can be worn in many scenarios. Coming in at only 35mm and a touch above 11mm thick the Sea Wolf was one the smallest functional dive watches of its era. Now, why am I talking about the Sea Wolf? Well, the success of the Sea Wolf made Zodiac able to expand into other design categories and create other tool watches. These other tool watches included the Aerospace GMT and without the Sea Wolf, we probably would have never seen the Aerospace GMT produced.

 

 Sharp un-polished case

Sharp un-polished case

So now let's get into the nitty gritty. The 35mm stainless case is nicely finished with slightly beveled lugs and sharp edges. Many different dial variations were produced of the Aerospace during the 1960’s and early 70’s so choosing the right one is important. For us, a black gloss dial is more desirable over a sunburst one. We’ve sold a few over at the shop in the past year of both variations. The gloss vs. sunburst dial is just a matter of personal opinion. You can also see a date window at 3 with a quick set date crown that simply needs to be pushed down for every day you wish it move forward.

 Desirable Pepsi bezel version. Photo: Analog Shift

Desirable Pepsi bezel version. Photo: Analog Shift

Moving to under the hood the Zodiac houses the caliber 75 automatic and it is a very reliable and accurate movement. It even has some tasteful perlage decoration on the rotor, which is always a plus. A few variations of GMT hands can be seen but the most common is a simple red stick hand with tritium lume at the tip. It may be simple but gets the job done. The handset almost always is a baton, however here and there you may see a more pointed tip. What steals the show and is an absolute must have for me is the multi colored bakelite 24-hour rotating bezels. It’s a feature that’s necessary for a GMT watch for people constantly changing time zones. The bezels are the first part of these watches that draws the eye and the same goes for the Sea wolfs. A few versions of the dual colored bezels are Black and red, Black and Navy, and the most sought after the Red and Blue Pepsi. Almost every example with a bakelite bezel I’ve owned or seen online is faded so every bezel is different than another.

 

 Zodiac cal. 75 automatic 

Zodiac cal. 75 automatic 

 On the wrist 

On the wrist 

The wear ability is for the Aerospace’s is nothing unfamiliar to anyone who wears vintage on the daily. The 35mm case doesn’t seem bigger or smaller than the dimensions on paper. Although the bezel does give it a larger appearance. Depending on the dial and bezel variation these go well with a wide range of straps. The lugs are 18mm so finding a nice brown leather calfskin with minimal stitching looks great in the fall or winter months. I’ve worn them on natos and perlon single pass, both are extremely fun during the summer months due to the crazy color combinations.

 Stainless steel bezel

Stainless steel bezel

For us, the Zodiac Aerospace GMT brings the best value for under $1,000 with its funky yet symmetrical design. Its size is respectable for many and the build quality is better than any others at the same price point. For the non-bakelite bezels/ sunburst dialed examples you can expect to pay around $500-$700. And the bakelite bezels with glossy dials you can expect it to be around $750-$1,000 depending on how the bezel shape is and if it’s kept the original JB Champion stainless bracelet.