Exotic Dial Zodiac Sea Wolf 722-946B
Zodiac’s 1960s Sea Wolf is a vintage Fifty Fathoms of the people: every bit as storied, much less recognized, and way more fun. It gets overlooked often, but the Sea Wolf was one of the earliest commercial dive watches, released in 1953 alongside the Fifty Fathoms at Basel Fair. Its commercial availability and dependable reputation in the US saw it become the choice of many soldiers during the Vietnam War and was standard kit for many SEALs, though never issued. That said, it’s not what you’d call subtle. One of the joys of Zodiac as compared to early Blancpain or Rolex is that they weren’t shy to a bit of exuberant color. This was far less common in the early ’60s than it is today, and this ‘exotic’ dial ref. 722-946B, silver and tangerine, is arguably the most desirable Sea Wolf full stop.
I like to imagine a Sea Wolf on the wrist of a wet, unshaven sailor on a Patrol Boat River or PBR, maybe next to Marlon Brando, while Creedence Clearwater blares out of a Huey overhead. That’s really what this watch was built to do, the whole vibe is purpose but it’s not overly serious. There are additional layers of usability here. The date is quick-set, uniquely though a push in of the crown. The case is just 35.5mm, not overly bulky in any dimension. It was even rated to dive deeper than the Blancpain, by ~10m.
The Sea Wolf fell out of favor and attention as the brand hit rough times through the 80s. It wasn’t until the re-introduction of the Sea Wolf in 2015, alongside a surge in overall vintage watch interest, that anyone cared again. Today, original Sea Wolfs in decent condition are appropriately about as difficult to hunt as an original Fifty Fathoms in decent condition. Of all iterations, this 722-946 has influenced the current reissue’s design most strongly. While most came with black dials, you’ll find the occasional radially brushed silver which looks like this. The best bit, though, is that despite all that pedigree this most-desirable-of-all Sea Wolf is an order of magnitude less dear than a Fifty Fathoms. Which is ideal, if you ain’t no fortunate son.
This example is great. The dial and hands are magnificent. All original, tritium present and cream, no visible damage. Its bakelite bezel is in stellar shape for its age. There are tiny spots of wear, like the paint inside its triangle or the little bash down at 30, but miraculously there are no cracks. It even comes on its original JB Champion bracelet, from a well-regarded California retailer.