A Zelos on the horizon: Zelos Horizons GMT v2 review

Zelos is a strange company, and I can’t find another word to describe a brand that managed to gather around its name such a loyal crowd of enthusiast customers despite forcing them to queue online for every launch since their watches are sold using a technique that reminds me of drip irrigation. It gets even stranger when browsing Zelos collection you get the idea that Zelos will sell on one hand luxury watches priced at several thousand US$ that use exotic materials and high-end movements, just as that on the other hand they are offering daily watches powered by off the shelf movements from Myota or Seiko. Yet, despite this seemingly loss of focus their catalog didn’t devolve into a Bric-à-brac and Zelos has a very solid and distinctive brand image.

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The Horizons is somewhat a mid-tier line in Zelos collection, and it includes 39mm divers and field watches, 43mm divers and the GMT which is technically a 40mm. The Horizons GMT had two production runs with small changes brought to the v2. I bought mine directly from their online shop and my bronze “Cobalt Blue” was the last before this specific variant was sold out.

GMT watches tend to be on the larger side and relatively few of them have a diameter less than 40mm (a notable exception is the 36mm Glycine Airman No. 1).  The Horizons GMT is advertised as a 40mm watch but it’s really 39mm because the bezel is slightly smaller than the case and with its modest 45mm L2L distance it wears more like a 38mm.

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The case is 12mm thick and is topped by a boxed sapphire crystal that brings the overall height to somewhere between 13.5mm to 13.7mm, courtesy of a slight curvature from the sapphire top. The case itself is made of CuSn8 bronze, meaning that it will turn into a more reddish color with age which is more alike to copper than brass. Since it’s made of bronze there is the temptation to accelerate the natural corrosion process and force “patina”. I would advise against in the case of the Horizons because the sides and chamfers are polished to a gloss from the factory. This unusual finish for a bronze watch means that it will look better when wiped with a lightly oiled rag.

The bronze bezel has 48 clicks and is a bi-directional with a blue ceramic 24 hours insert. There is a lumed inverted triangle at the 24-hour position but otherwise the numerals are just lightly engraved with no paint whatsoever to make them easier to read. In my opinion, a 60 click bi-directional bezel would have been better because as it is now, the movement is rather stiff and maybe some additional “clicks” would have made it smoother. The un-guarded screw down crown is also made of bronze and features the stylized Z logo of Zelos.

There is something about the case that reminds me of the Alpinist. Perhaps its because the proportions are somewhat similar, or perhaps its because despite being made of a denser bronze that brings the Horizons GMT to 99gr with the tropic strap, it still wears very similarly on my wrist to my SARB017. Weird because the Alpinist is all about flowing smooth lines while the Horizons GMT is very angular in comparison.

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The dial is where Zelos is showing what it is capable of. The vivid blue cobalt sunburst contrast well with the gilded indices and hands which sometime cause a purple reflection to tint the dial. It’s a very striking dial with the applied indices slightly recessed into the chapter ring adding relief and depth. The only mismatch there is the color of the 200m WR inscription that is printed in a red that doesn’t match exactly the color of the GMT hand.  The date window color however does match the dial and is placed at 6 o’clock, which is very good for keeping balance and symmetry.

 The chapter ring is one of the elements that went through a change in the v2 and is steeply angled which is a bit of a problem because there is another 24-hour scale printed on it to track another time zone and the angle of the chapter ring makes it very difficult to read it. This, combined with the lack of legibility of the bezel, means that the Horizons GMT is struggling at being a GMT. Overall legibility is excellent otherwise.

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Lume, as usual with Zelos, isn’t a problem. C3 Super-Luminova is glowing brightly on the hours, minutes, and seconds hands as well as on the indices. The GMT hand and the inverted triangle on the bezel seems to use a different lume because they glow in blue rather than the green glow of the C3.

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The case-back is an exhibition case featuring a sapphire window through which the ETA 2893 movement can be seen. Zelos opted to fit the Horizons with the Elaboré grade of the 2893 and add a custom engraved gilded rotor featuring a stylized map of the world. I’m not a fan of display cases in general because they tend to make the watches thicker and compromise WR but in the case of the Horizons GMT I must admit that the rotor is very nice looking and that with a 200m WR and overall height of 13.5mm I really don’t see an issue neither with thickness not WR. The Horizons keeps a good time and I seldom have to adjust it but being based on the ETA 2893 also means that the Horizons GMT is a caller/office GMT and not a traveler GMT.

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Zelos are good at packaging. My Horizons GMT came wrapped in a leather roll packed in a wood box and included a black rubber tropic strap with a matching bronze buckle and a nice brown leather strap. I think that the tropic strap is made of natural rubber because it’s stiffer than silicone and doesn’t have the slightly odd feeling of FKM. It’s a good strap and I decided to keep my Horizons on it, but I’m pretty sure that with its compact size, standard 20mm lug width, and striking design, the Horizons GMT can be fitted with a variety of straps and still look stunning.

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In conclusion I still think that Zelos is a strange company. After owning the Horizons GMT, I can understand why they have such loyal customers because it only takes a few seconds to notice the quality of the watch. It feels solid, the finish is impeccable, the dial is striking, the models are offered in a variety of material and dial colors, and they are priced fairly when considering the built quality, the choice of components and the style that is striking without being gaudy. However, after all these efforts and attention to details, why did Zelos miss making the Horizons GMT a great GMT on top of being a great watch and how did they manage not making me care that it’s not the best GMT it could have been?

A Zelos on the horizon: Zelos Horizons GMT v2 review

4.8
Yes No
5/5
5/5
5/5
5/5
4/5
  • Quality: materials, build, fit & finish
  • Value for price
  • Great size for a GMT
  • Choice of dial color and materials
  • Great lume
  • Not the best at being a GMT
  • Small production volume
  • Stiff and jerky bezel

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Great review. I have the Horizons V2 GMT with the SS case and  teal dial, and agree that Zelos dials can be very appealing. The main reason That I had purchased mine was for the teal dial, and I found it to be even more attractive in person than it was in the photos I had seen online. It's almost impossible to capture the real color of the dial in photos.

I personally dislike the height of the box crystal and would have preferred a much slimmer crystal. I agree that the bezel leaves a lot to be desired, as does the bracelet, but I do feel that the overall finish is quite nice for the price. 

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Diggin that Lightsaber looking lume👌

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tempus

Great review. I have the Horizons V2 GMT with the SS case and  teal dial, and agree that Zelos dials can be very appealing. The main reason That I had purchased mine was for the teal dial, and I found it to be even more attractive in person than it was in the photos I had seen online. It's almost impossible to capture the real color of the dial in photos.

I personally dislike the height of the box crystal and would have preferred a much slimmer crystal. I agree that the bezel leaves a lot to be desired, as does the bracelet, but I do feel that the overall finish is quite nice for the price. 

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It's a very pleasing color combination and your bezel is far more legible than mine.

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Here is my v1 after 3 years of natural patina. Nice gradient effect. Looks almost like the pull up effect on Horween leather. 
 

It‘s interesting that you mentioned you prefer the 60 click bezel. The v1 does have a 60 click but the problem is that as a gmt bezel, it is not possible to align the odd numbers on the bezel with the dial indexes. So  the  60 click bezel on the v1 Is not all that useful for gmt function, but it has great action though, and makes for a fine timing bezel. 

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Bsblaw
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Here is my v1 after 3 years of natural patina. Nice gradient effect. Looks almost like the pull up effect on Horween leather. 
 

It‘s interesting that you mentioned you prefer the 60 click bezel. The v1 does have a 60 click but the problem is that as a gmt bezel, it is not possible to align the odd numbers on the bezel with the dial indexes. So  the  60 click bezel on the v1 Is not all that useful for gmt function, but it has great action though, and makes for a fine timing bezel. 

It's not that I really "prefer" a 60 click bezel rather than feel that the current 48 click bezel is not cutting the mustard and that it may benefit from more clicks to smooth its operation.