As mentioned in my Super Sea Wolf 53 Skin hands-on, dive watches have spun off into a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles since Zodiac launched the genre alongside Rolex and Blancpain in 1953. Though not quite a whackadoodle, bedazzled departure from the classic format, the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression brings a touch of spirit and a dash of color while maintaining the same underpinnings as the 53 Skin: an ETA/Sellita-style STP 1-11 automatic movement with the same 200 meter depth rating, plus a date window and a jubilee bracelet in place of the skin diver-style rubber strap. The fancier model retails at $1,495, a modest $300 premium over the simpler Skin.

Watch Analog watch Automotive tire Speedometer Gauge

Place them side-by-side, and a difference a millimeter makes: While the Skin’s 39mm case and matte black bezel lends it a compact, efficient look, the Compression’s 40mm diameter, 12.8mm height, and wider, tinted bezel makes it feel like an entirely different animal. There’s a bit of shine to the lugs and the center links in the band, and a subtle clearcoat over the bezel that furthers the incrementally flashier theme. All of these design cues don’t necessarily equate to frivolity or excess, but they do add a hint of fun to the rigid understatement that defines the skin diver-style model.

Straight Outta Woking

Sometimes my automotive pair-ups coincide philosophically with a featured timepiece. Other times, the similarities are more stylistic. In the case of this particular Zodiac, I happened to be borrowing a Bentley Continental GT Speed press loaner right around the time the Compression arrived on my doorstep, and the UK-built steed couldn’t have been more in line with the Zodiac’s color theme. Yes, Bentley was officially aligned with the pricier (and showier) Breitling brand for years. The carmaker would undoubtedly disapprove of any association with the relatively affordable, Fossil-owned watch brand. But the color combos were too similar to dismiss: the Continental’s vaguely bluish-white hue, dubbed “Ice” (a $6,275 option) and further interior shades of blue—Primary: Portland, Secondary: Brunei—were spot on with the Zodiac’s white-and-blue theme. Incidentally, the Compression can be had in a total of nine color schemes, from a dark blue to a limited production aquamarine to a funky green and orange to a more conventional, near-blackout design.

Watch Car Vehicle Motor vehicle Light

As contradictory as it seemed to roll in a $352,100 Bentley with a humble $1,495 dive watch strapped to my wrist, the matchy-matchy color combo was all too tasty to ignore. Plus, there’s nothing wrong with combining excess with access, which is why I also take weird pleasure in driving a car that costs as much as a midwestern house through the In-N-Out drive-thru—this time, while wearing a timepiece that costs less than the dark tint on the Bentley’s 22-inch alloy wheels.

Hand Sleeve Gesture Finger Wrist

On the Wrist

I’m a big fan of deployant clasps, and love the ease of throwing a bracelet onto my wrist and clicking it into place for a perfect, pre-set fit. And while the 53’s strap integrates neatly into the case, the two-part mechanism for the clasp requires the top section to clicked in first because the metal tab on the other half would interfere with the foldover action. Annoying.

Arm Neck Body jewelry Gesture Finger

Once strapped on, the Compression’s blue and white color scheme wears with a curious combination of presence and whimsy. I imagine this is a wildly variable effect depending on which of the 9 color schemes happen to be on your wrist. My tester has a bit of candy-like exuberance to the baby blue accents, and a summer-like friendliness to the white that lends it a light, pleasant feel. The Compression’s slightly larger scale and more imposing bezel than the Skin model don’t make it too much for my meager 6.75-inch wrist; it still seems proportionate and balanced. Interestingly though, it seemed to pop a whole lot more my wife’s wrist—perhaps due to her daintier size, possibly because it just vibes better with her lighter complexion.

Watch Hand Analog watch Hood Gesture

Net Sum: The Un-Divey-Yet-Non-Fancy Dive Watch

That previous sentence says more about the Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression than any lengthy screed could. Rather than dwelling on power reserves (Zodiac doesn’t publish them, though some reports cite 44 hours) or the fact that the (ironically named?) Compression isn’t ISO 6425 certified for hardcore dive duty, this particular timepiece seems perfectly content with a purpose that’s more vibey than utilitarian.

Hood Automotive design Motor vehicle Auto part Engineering

There will always be those who prefer, and sometimes insist, on legit deep sea credentials. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that; can’t blame a watch enthusiast for wanting a timepiece that lives up to certain quantifiable standards. However, this watch isn’t that kind of party. Instead, it updates a classic design with a touch of color, offering an attractive price point for those who might be tempted to criticize it against heavier hitters. If you covet a COS-C certification, Zodiac offers a beefier Pro-Diver model that offers more deep sea peace of mind for just $200 more. For the rest of us, the Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression doesn’t take itself quite so seriously, instead bringing a bit of stylish fun to the diverse dive watch party.

Hood Silver Body jewelry Clock Jewellery