Zelos has made a watch that looks equal parts jet engine and landmine and named it after an Eagle. The Eagle E-1A is an automatic behemoth that is sure to be noticed on the wrist of anyone with the arm-strength to wear it.
Zelos launched its brand in 2014 with several successful Kickstarter campaigns. Its founder, Elshan Tang, loved mechanical watches and wanted to add his twist to the startup watch market.
Its shape and weight made big, first impressions on me. Tang wanted to model this watch after a jet engine and you can see its angular, manly hardware sits high on the wrist while a double-domed crystal stares out like a one-eyed eagle.
The Eagle weighs 121 grams or about the weight of an iPhone 6. Put your device on your wrist and tell me what you think. This watch looks and feels like a dude’s tool watch on steroids and will surely get the attention of passersby.
The 316L stainless steel case is pretty standard but it has an additional protection in its DLC (diamond-like carbon) coating. The 42mm watch doesn’t look very large by today’s standard, but what it lacks in width it makes up in its 16mm height. Add the double-domed curved sapphire crystal and you will notice it’s on your wrist. Don’t think you’re going to hide this under a cuff either. Heck, you may not have a shirt on when you wear this thing. (I’m not sure what that means.)
The case design looks like a medieval cathedral with the center of the case rising up and supported by four, flying buttresses. (Chime in, architects) These buttresses or four-lug ends shoot out from the strap to the top of the case in sharp, angled lines to the bezel. The sides are surrounded by flat-black window-like shapes and separated by twelve columns with horizontal grooves.
The crown is designed to look like the spiral of a jet engine turbine, and it takes its lead from other watch makers who pay attention to the details we touch a lot on a watch. This one reminded me of a Bremont crown although not as refined to the touch.
The sandwich dial design is my favorite part of the watch and the numerals on the top layer are cut out to reveal the luminescence bottom slice. This reminded me of the Panerai Radiomir for some of its design cues, but Zelos successfully avoids a danger-close comparison by not using the same Arabic numerals. It also resembles a contemporary boutique watch company, Oak and Oscar, and their Burnham.
The Eagle avoids the direct comparison to Panerai by using alternate numbers and indices at 3 6, 9 and 12. The 12 o’clock index is a triangle with two dots on either side of the top of the triangle. This triangle carries the aviation theme in the dial with its reference to early aviation instruments, but also serves to orient the aviator in a low or no light situation.
The dial-finish has a matte sandblast and the lower layer has circular brushed markings. This contrast adds depth and contrast to the dial. Beneath the 12 o’clock marker, a “Z” framed in a circle is its primary brand indicator. Above the 6 o’clock is the word, “automatic” in all upper case and with the ideal proportions to give visual balance as well as insight into this Eagle’s engine.
The Eagle has a display case back, but don’t expect to get a good look at the automatic Miyota 9015 movement. It has a turbine-looking plate resembling another jet engine component covering it. Each case back is also engraved with a serial number and includes its impressive 200 meter water resistant rating. These are extra details you see when you get this in your hands.
The canvas strap is lined in leather and is a gray, green with white stitching. The black engraved buckle visually and literally connects the case color to the strap but I’m not sure that look fits the vibe of an Eagle. It came with a second strap, too, and it has a vintage, leather-like strap with a brushed steel buckle. I preferred the brown strap, but it did not seem as well made as the canvas strap.
The watch fit well on my wrist, but the weight was not what I’m used to. I also found that the height of the watch make it an easy target for walls, furniture and submarines.
The watch comes packaged in a cool aluminum display case that resembles a mini Anvil road case and a stamped steel warranty card for its one year coverage. The Eagle has three other models with a variation of numeral colors and one with a bronze case. (Check out Matt’s review on the bronze one.)
I think Zelos has found its niche in tool watches with unique cases. It does this with thoughtful design details like the sandwich dial, a manly winding crown, and an extras strap for a fair price. This watch retails for $760. zeloswatches.com
- Brand & Model: Zelos Eagle E-1A
- Price: $760
- Who we think it might be for: This is the watch for the person who is used to wearing big diver watches.
- Would I buy one for myself based on what I’ve seen?: I need to go to the gym and work my left arm before I’d be ready for this guy.
- If I could make one design suggestion, it would be: I would lower the profile of the watch, especially if the case height was a requirement for the 200 meter resistant level.
- What spoke to me the most about this watch: The legibility of the dial is the strongest element of the watch.
- Brand Model: Zelos Eagle E-1A
- Movement (technology): Miyota 9015 Automatic
- Size of case diameter (mm): 42mm
- Height of case: 16mm
- Weight: 121g
- Case material: 316L stainless steel DLC coating
- Case Back: Display
- Crystal/Glass material: 4mm thick double curved domed sapphire crystal with AR coating
- Water resistance (m/ft/atm): 200m
- Strap/Bracelet material: Canvas with an engraved buckle and an additional strap
- Illumination: Yes