Today, the Zodiac brand is predominantly associated with dive watches. But if we look back in time, we can find the Zodiac Hermetic family, which hides a few very interesting non-diving models. Among the Valjoux 72-powered chronographs and 24-hour Aerospace Jets sits one very appealing dresser that got my attention about four years ago.

In Zodiac’s current watch lineup, there is just one model that doesn’t want to go diving — the Olympos. Its case shape is so individualistic, but Zodiac still decided to revive this devil with a mysterious hour hand. To my disappointment, the silver central disc with an hour hand didn’t make it to the present, and Zodiac replaced it with a standard hand. Anyway, Zodiac’s current catalog offers slim pickings for classier watches, so let’s daydream about whether today’s featured Hermetic Small Seconds could become a new addition to the line.

Image: Theo & Harris

A distinct design language

I dare say that many watches may bore you so much that you don’t even look at them properly. You have no reason to. There were so many watch brands and watches produced that most of them simply looked alike. The longer you collect watches, the harder it becomes for designs to attract you. On the other hand, if you spot something genuine, it cuts into your eyes like a razor blade. That’s not only the case for the 1960s 24-hour-dial Hermetic Aerospace Jet with striking red hour markers but also the time-only Zodiac Hermetic Small Seconds.

Zodiac Hermetic Small Seconds dial close-up

Triangular lume

The show stealers here are the lumed triangles perfectly printed on the outer edge of the dial. All of them, except those at 12 and 6 o’clock, point to long, highly polished hour markers. These are shaped in such a way that each looks like a serif “I” or a strong pillar. What’s even more interesting is that every single triangle is filled with (today nicely aged) lume. And these triangles aren’t tiny. They are bigger than standard lume dots. What I find most fascinating is the quality of the lume application. Each one looks exactly like the one next to it. The lume is applied so neatly that the edges of black triangles are visible and create a nice outline around the lume. It’s just amazing.

Sporty elegance

The small seconds register is slightly recessed. There is no specific treatment to the seconds track besides 12 equally long, thin lines to mark five-second intervals. If you removed the lumed triangles and Arabic “12,” you would have a “default” clean dress watch. But thanks to the lume triangles, the watch gets its unique character and slightly sporty spirit.

Zodiac Hermetic Small Seconds

A dial like a magnet

The applied highly polished logo is a nice detail to see on a watch in that category. It fits perfectly with Arabic “12” and long indexes. The pearly matte white dial helps these shiny elements to shine even more. Still, I cannot stop studying that white dial, which somehow magnetizes me. I admit that the minty-mint condition of this example helps a lot. The watch looks like it just came from the manufacturer.


Thankfully, the lume seems solid; I have no worries that it will break apart and fall soon. The tone it aged into is also quite interesting. It’s neither pale nor warmly rich. It sits somewhere in between those, almost as if it wanted to make sure you don’t have some relic watch in your hands.

Zodiac Hermetic Small Seconds wrist shot

This Zodiac Hermetic Small Seconds came to me with a price tag attached to the original old-school Zodiac buckle. I guess I don’t need to say there is also still a gold Zodiac logo printed on the strap, which has never been strapped to a wrist. Usually, I show no mercy with NOS watches, but I never wore this one. It is probably the only NOS watch in my collection I have never sported to the office or family dinner. Well, until last week, that is… Happy hunting!