Hobbies-R-Us

Stories and tutorials about various home projects and hobbies.

12:16 AM

Review: Zodiac Astrographic 2000

Posted by Rennaisance Man

Zodiac Astrographic 2000


Summary:

  • Updated version of the original 1971 Astrographic SST
  • No more than 500 made during 13 months in 2000-2001
  • 38 mm diameter
  • 12 mm thick
  • 20 mm wide X 3mm thick solid stainless steel band
  • 180 grams
  • 200 meter depth rating
  • ETA 2824-2 25 jewel, 28,800 bph auto movement
  • Solid stainless steel case, crown and back
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Signed back, crown, and pushbutton butterfly clasp
  • Unique orbiting satellite hour/minute and red moon seconds hands "mystery dial"
Zodiac was founded by Ariste Calame in Le Locle, Switzerland, in 1882, a center of Swiss clock and watch making for centuries, as "Ariste Calame." The Calame family had lived in the region since at least the 16th Century. While the "Zodiac" name had been used for some time, it wasn't registered until 1908 by Ariste's son, Louis Ariste Calame. The company went through a succession of registered names in the years that followed, becoming "Ariste Calame: Montres Zodiac" in 1923, and eventually became just "Zodiac, S.A."

The Astrographic SST (Split-Second Timing) made its debut in December 1971, with the same uniquely original concept found in the Astrographic 2000: orbiting satellite hour and minute hands with a "fiery red moon" seconds hand "mystery dial." Although case and band styles changed during the 1970's, the watch maintained the same concept for its "mystery dial" hands. I've never been able to determine exactly when the original Astrographic collection was discontinued, but it had disappeared by some time in the 1980's.

Willie Gad Monnier, formerly a Tag Heuer principal, purchased Zodiac in 1990 while it was suffering financial troubles and modernized its collections with a noticeable Tag Heuer influence. In 1997, the company declared bankruptcy. Not quite a year later in 1998, Genender International, Inc. acquires the brand and all its surviving inventory. It's under their ownership that nearly all of Zodiac's mechanical watches are discontinued and replaced with new quartz collections. Only the Super Sea Wolf and Marine Life models survived with mechanical movements.

In October 2000, Zodiac announced the resurrection of the Astrographic which had been one of their most popular and best known collections. The new, high end Astrographic 2000 was designed with updated materials befitting its intended market segment, a sleek look that maintained historical elements of its case styles and the mystery dial, and an MSRP of $1295. The Astrographic 2000 only lasted 13 months though. In October 2001, Fossil purchased Zodiac from Genender. A month later Fossil announced discontinuation of Zodiac's collections, including the Astrographic 2000, and relaunched completely new lines of watches under the Zodiac name, showing them in the April 2002 Basel Watch Show with retail deliveries later in the Fall. The Astrographic 2000 (along with the Super Sea Wolf) became instant collectibles due to their popularity, uniqueness and very limited production numbers. Even though it wasn't intended to be a limited edition, it became one overnight. No more than 500 of this Astrographic 2000 were produced with black, blue and silver dials in round and square cases. Even so, they were dumped into the market at very low prices.

The Astrographic 2000 is made of materials with quality of workmanship in fit, finish and assembly befitting a watch with its original MSRP. The case, signed screw-down crown and signed back are solid stainless steel. The back, which is held on by screws, has a very large Zodiac logo deeply etched into it. Surprising for a cross between a dress and sports watch, it has a 200 meter diver depth rating.

The movement inside is the venerated 25 jewel 28,800 bph ETA 2824-2 automatic. Its high beat gives the orbiting red moon seconds "hand" an extremely smooth motion around the very deep lapis blue, fine sunburst texture dial. The case is 38 mm in diameter and 12mm thick. The crystal is heavy, flat sapphire, and the 20mm wide integral band is 3mm thick, made of solid stainless steel links, with a signed butterfly clasp.

The Zodiac Astrographic 2000 is a piece of Zodiac's history embodied in one of its most popular and distinctive models, updated with top notch materials and impeccable workmanship. Even though Fossil has quite successfully stabilized and improved Zodiac financially, it's highly unlikely they will ever make a watch like the Astrographic 2000 again. The probability of it is better characterized as nearly zero.

Summary:
  • Updated version of the original 1971 Astrographic SST
  • No more than 500 made during 13 months in 2000-2001
  • 38 mm diameter
  • 12 mm thick
  • 20 mm wide X 3mm thick solid stainless steel band
  • 180 grams
  • 200 meter depth rating
  • ETA 2824-2 25 jewel, 28,800 bph auto movement
  • Solid stainless steel case, crown and back
  • Sapphire crystal
  • Signed back, crown, and pushbutton butterfly clasp
  • Unique orbiting satellite hour/minute and red moon seconds hands "mystery dial"
Original MSRP was $1,295 in 2000. "New Old Stock," when it can be found, has a current "street price" of about $500, but they have all but completely disappeared now.

Zodiac's Current Web Site
Note: I do not have any association with Zodiac, Fossil or their dealers, for new or NOS, other than having bought a NOS Zodiac Astrographic 2000 from a dealer in vintage Zodiacs.

2 comments:

Bob Matteson said...

Limited to 500 total, or 500 of each style?

Bob Matteson said...

Limited to 500 total, or 500 of each style?

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