The Zodiac Super Sea Wolf 53 Compression has been a part of the brand's collections for a decent while now, and with each passing version we continue to see improvements over the last. A couple of years ago I had the navy dialed Super Sea Wolf 53 on hand, and other than some slight play in its bezel I was mostly impressed with execution for the dollar, so when this latest version was unveiled I was curious to see how it would feel in the metal.

Minor design tweaks aside, there are still quite a few similarities between the two models. Dials and hands have been changed, and date complication deleted, but the case, bezel, and crown are effectively identical. At 40mm across, 49mm from lug to lug, and 13mm thick, it has very modest and comfortable proportions that speak to the vintage feel of the collection.

Of the first things I noticed taking the new Super Sea Wolf out of the box was a change to the bezel mechanism itself; this new model has a much firmer and direct click as it rotates through its 120-click unidirectional rotation. It's a legitimate and noticeable improvement over the previous version, and once that will be appreciated by those who are particular about their bezels.

Fans of bright lume also won't be disappointed here, as the change in indices and hands had a huge impact on legibility in darkness. The large applied indices at 3, 6, 9, and 12 are heavily lumed, as are the smaller plots for the other hours, and the unique shape of its hands also allow ample space for some good glow. At first I thought the choice of a black finish for the hour and seconds hand was a bit out of place, but the more I looked at and wore the SSW35 Compression the more it made sense. every detail here is meant to provide better contrast and visibility, and I think either polished or brushed hands would risk getting lost against its radially brushed silver dial.

Mechanically speaking, Zodiac continues to run their own in-house clone of an ETA 2824-2 known as the STP 3-11 and 3-13. A hot-button topic across the forums, because as far as we know Fossil is executing as much manufacturing as they can legally in China, and then completing the rest (as well as all assembly and testing) in Switzerland. Personally, I take no issue with these calibers, at it seems they have no issue keeping up with both Sellita and ETA in terms of general accuracy. Also considering the size of Fossil Group as a whole, I can't see how access to parts for repair would ever be much of a concern either. The only confusing bit is that at one time, the 3-13 was the chronometer-rated variant of the 3-11, whereas now it seems that it is merely the technical update of its predecessor, as we're seeing the 3-13 in pieces like this one without mention of chronometer certification. Like its no-frills Swiss counterparts, you're looking at a power reserve around the 40ish hour mark.

On the wrist, I really found myself enjoying the SSW53 Compression . Its 5-link jubilee type bracelet is pretty darned comfortable on the wrist, with my only gripe being that I found that the clasp release would occasionally dig into the inside of my wrist a bit; there are definitely worse offenders out there for the same (if not more) money. It uses a butterfly deployant clasp--a design I tend to consistantly prefer over the single-fold--and Zodiac pairs it with a unique stretch expansion on either side, providing roughly 4-5mm of slack. If I'm not mistaken, this was first integrated into the design of the Jetomatic bracelet, and is a simple and cost effective solution to fussing with half links or building a proper snapping clasp extension. The only question here would be overall longevity of the spring mechanism.

All told, once you get past its conglomerate fashion brand overlord, there's a ton to love about this new Sea Wolf. It has vintage style for days, it's a very wearable size, and frankly it's just a really well-built diver for the money. This variant is only available on bracelet (for now) with a sticker price of $1,395, and when looking at its apples-to-apples competition it's definitely up to the task. You're undercutting most Oris offerings by a bit of a margin, and (for example) if you were to put it head-to-head with a Divers Sixty-Five they're so closely matched in terms of quality and finish that the decision should really only come down to aesthetic preference.

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