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Collecting vintage watches is often like a hunt for buried treasure. The real task is wading through the maze of sometimes unfamiliar names and finding watches with real value and quality construction. Oftentimes the hunt is more fulfilling than the acquisition, because the real joy is in unearthing watches by brands that have been all but forgotten and giving them a new life on your wrist.
In 1882 a watchmaker named Ariste Calame opened a workshop in Le Locle. He enlisted the help of his son, Louis Ariste, who took over the business in 1895. By 1905 the company was known as Zodiac.
Zodiac distinguished itself from its earliest days with some impressive technical feats. They produced flat pocket watches in the 1920s, some of the industry's earliest automatic watches in the 1930s, and power-reserve complications in the 1940s. As Calame’s intention when setting up his shop was to specialize in the production of complicated movements, it’s no surprise that the lineage of technical expertise would live on throughout the brand’s history, until it was bought by Fossil in the 1990s.
Zodiac is perhaps best-known in today's vintage market for their chronographs. Often referred to as ”Poor Man's Heuers,” they have picked up quite a bit of traction in recent years, as collectors realize the value of these stunning and sporty watches. However, they’re perhaps undeserving of the moniker, because their solid cases and dependable movements are the same as those used by Heuer.
All they lack is the prestige—and the price tag.
This particular piece features a Valjoux 7736 chronograph movement with a gorgeous three-register “inverse panda" dial. Nearly indistinguishable to its Carrera cousins, this wonderful Zodiac is a great way to get into a vintage chronograph with Heuer loks and quality without spending a fortune for it.
Stainless steel case is approximately 36mm (excluding crown). Valjoux Caliber 7736 Manually-Wound Chronograph Movement. Circa 1960s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in very good condition with no signs of over-polishing and only minimal signs of use and wear. Dial is in very good condition with fine even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Unsigned crown. Unsigned case back has signs of wear throughout.
Includes one 18mm black leather rally style strap and two 19mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle (lug width is 19mm).