It may seem like an odd question, and knowing Elshan Tang’s brand progression personally, I will not be asking it, but you might. If you’re used to his tough budget-priced divers, this new Spearfish is a leap in price and style. Is the open-worked Swiss taste worth it?

I love seeing small brands climb the ladder of success, especially when I know them from my early watch-collecting journey. Based in Singapore, Elshan Tang has evolved Zelos from microbrand dive-cool to Swiss-powered complexity, and this time, it has materialized in a charming Spearfish.

Hands-on with the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time

The Zelos brand

With the Zelos Swordfish range, you can get a 38mm bronze-cased field watch with a meteorite dial for less than US$500 or 42mm steel divers starting at $399. However, this does not make the new Spearfish feel too expensive as the brand has been offering a broad range for years — even for those with up to $12K budgets! All Zelos watches are infused with the imaginative design ethos of Elshan Tang and a love of materiality. With everything from aventurine to meteorite dials, moon phases, and deep orange fume, you might get a guilty conscience if your love is for matte black-dialed tools. And there is a lot more on offer, with brand-specific bracelets providing the same bang-for-buck feeling as the imaginative dials. But where does that place the Spearfish, a sports watch with a rather dressy, intricate dial?

Hands-on with the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time

The evolution of the 40mm Zelos Spearfish

Some of you will already know the Zelos Spearfish range with its brand-signature case shape and brushed, beveled bracelet. And when steel-cased versions start at US$749 while sporting a ceramic bezel, 200m depth rating, and La Joux-Perret movement, we’re talking value. It might be double what we’re used to seeing from Zelos, but in 2024, that is still a good price. All Spearfish models are sized for everyday comfort at 40mm wide with a 47mm lug-to-lug. The new Dual Time is 12.5mm thick (10mm without the box sapphire crystal), and it hugs the wrist thanks to a nearly flush case back. It is a big win for comfort and impressively slim with adding a dual-time module to the Sellita SW300 base ébauche.

Combined with a smoothly sloping lug design, the length provides great comfort (listen up, Longines and many more…). A light 105g weight when sized up for my medium wrist puts the Spearfish Dual Time right up there with some of my most comfortable watches. And it’s a tough nugget as well, boasting a case and bracelet hard-coated to 1,200 Vickers for great scratch resistance. The bracelet is decent for the price and incorporates a clasp with an easy-adjustment system. It’s intuitive on the fly and more solid than a clasp with three or five holes for spring bars. The case finish is an unusual combo of brushed vertical and horizontal planes with bevels in a matte finish. For some, the finish may feel too tool-tough for this intricate dial, but maybe I’m just boring.

Hands-on with the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time

A split personality within a great case

The smooth, angled bevel on the bezel holds a tall, sharp-looking box-type sapphire crystal, and it looks just right. And no matter the accomplished case design, this is all about the dial. The Spark version here is just one of five options based on a visible, perlage-decorated TT651 module on a Sellita SW300-1. This resides under a sapphire dial with a highly unusual big date under the Zelos logo at 12. With a polished, angular frame where the twin date wheels meet, it makes for a dramatic centerpiece. Residing at the top of the dial, it’s simply a bold celebration of the symmetric functionality at work. And it sure is eye-catching in its micro-industrial splendor.

Hands-on with the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time

The big double-date window is matched for drama by a deep-set lumed world map at 6 o’clock. This is the base for a two-hand 24-hour GMT register. Riffing off the tough nature of a Zelos, it’s framed by a beveled chapter ring with notches for the hours. The 24-hour hand can be quickly adjusted via the crown, while the small minute hand follows the main one. The dial has the intangible quality of a gift that keeps giving. Over many days, I keep discovering small details, and the Spearfish Dual Time has a lot to unpack. For example, there’s the sweet tangerine taste of the seconds hand tip and the lume-printed globe rotating at a measured pace. You’ll notice a half-dark, half-light circle framing it, denoting night or daytime in your chosen home time zone. There’s also a powerful mix of BGW9 and C3 lume that’ll last through the night.

A juxtaposed conclusion of sorts

I have thoroughly enjoyed the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time, which marks the next bold chapter for Elshan Tang’s brand. Pushing $2K isn’t unusual anymore, not even for smaller brands, and I feel this watch is worth it. The forged carbon version will also be a knockout, but maybe Elshan should also release a basic steel version. No matter the material, the dial is a thing of captivating complexity. And it plays its cards right with sharply polished details like the blunt arrowhead indices and semi-skeletonized hands.

Hands-on with the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time

So, why would I love to see a version in 316L steel? This is subjective, but I’d love a polished bevel along the case sides and a polished bezel. And ditto for the bracelet. These would match and emphasize the studied dial details and polished hands. But that doesn’t stop this juxtaposition of titanium toolism and polished dial complications from being captivating. Could the forged carbon version be even cooler than this Ti-tough version? See for yourself on the Zelos website, where you’ll find all five versions of the Spearfish Dual Time. They will be available from the 8th of April for a launch price of US$1,849.

Dear Fratelli, what is your take on the dressy complexities of the Zelos Spearfish Dual Time? Do you find this watch a natural progression for the brand? Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

Watch specifications

Spearfish Dual Time
Ti 'Spark' Launch Special
Sapphire with applied indices, dual-disc big date at 12, 24-hour dual-time display 6, and Super-LumiNova C3 and BGW9
Case Material
Titanium hardened to 1200Hv
Case Dimensions
40mm (diameter), × 47mm (lug-to-lug) × 12.5mm (thickness with crystal, 10mm without)
Box-type double-domed sapphire
Case Back
Titanium with sapphire crystal, affixed with four screws
Sellita SW300-1 with TT651 module: automatic with manual winding, 28,800vph frequency, 56-hour power reserve, custom rotor
Water Resistance
10 ATM (100 meters)
Brushed titanium three-row bracelet with quick-adjust clasp, 1200Hv hardened
Time (central hours, minutes, seconds), big date, and 24-hour time zone with separate two-hand display
US$1,849 (launch price)