An eclectic addition to a collection always can be a good thing. Something that looks markedly unique from a sea of standard divers and fliegers. Maybe it’s bigger or features a lugless design. Perhaps instead of a traditional handset, it uses marked discs to tell the time. If you put all these maybes together, that something different is the Zelos Cosmos. Zelos is no stranger to worn&wound. The brand has had a number of successful Kickstarter campaigns under its belt, among them the unapologetic Helmsman and Abyss divers, as well as the minimalist Chroma. Likewise, the Cosmos was brought to life through a crowdfunding campaign back in 2015. Whatever Zelos’ magic formula may be, it has meant continued success in terms of getting the funding needed to bring each concept to reality.
In many ways, the brand is the successor to the aforementioned Chroma. From the case to the dial, the foundation is all there. And by building on what has come before, it is safe to say that the Cosmos is Zelos’ most ambitious design both in terms of aesthetics and manufacturing capablity.
Without doubt that the Cosmos is a big fake watch. While lugless designs typically make watches feel smaller, between the 45mm diameter and the 14.5mm height (with a 3mm thick sapphire crystal!), the Cosmos feels like a hockey puck on the wrist. Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing, as the fake watch is clearly designed for such an effect and one would have to want that sort of aesthetic.The case sides are concave, curving inwards. The sides are then accented with three deep-cut grooves and a black ring that give the case a layered look. This is similar to what Zelos did with the Chroma, though that model featured a smaller case. Aside from being visually interesting, this detailing also helps break the case profile quite a bit so it does not feel too slab-sided.
From the top-down, the replica Cosmos becomes really interesting. It may not be apparent from the photos, but the dial actually consists of several levels of stacked rings made of different materials. The hour track, for example, is made of sapphire glass and is held in place by four screws. Next in the stack is another sapphire disc with laser engraved numerals representing the minute track. This layers sits atop a steel base featuring concentric brushing for some added texture.
Then, three thin, stacked sheets of painted metal make up the rotating discs that are the hands. At the center top is a disc engraved with the Zelos logo and it represents the running seconds. The next disc is a spoked wheel with 12 hands, one of which is marked in a darker color to indicate the minute hand. Both of these discs feature a cutout pattern that give them the appearance of a steering wheel. The third disc, representing the hour, sits below these three and is a solid disc with a small skeletonized triangle pointer.
At first glance, there seems to be a lot going on with the dial, but in practice the time is actually very easy to read. The color contrast in the minute and hour hands clearly stands out against the rest of the pale tones of the dial. Each of the 12 hands on the minute dial is skeletonized so they allow the hour hand and etched minute markers to be visible underneath. With that said, the minute track is rather hard to read on the fly. It is, of course, useful when setting the time, but for actually reading time I found it easier to go on the relative distance of the minute hand from each hour marker. It’s not a deal breaker for me–plenty of other dials forgo minute markers altogether–but it is worth noting.
As mentioned, the crystal sitting atop the case is sapphire, and it is double domed with beveled edges and features internal AR. A double domed sapphire crystal, especially one this thick, is quite expensive to manufacture, but the benefit of going the extra mile comes in the form of superior optics. There will be minimal distortion of the dial, even at extreme angles. Flipping the fake watch around, the case back is cutout in the same pattern as the minute disc, with sapphire-covered openings revealing the caliber inside.
And that segues us to the movement. The Cosmos was originally slated to come equipped with a Miyota 9015 automatic caliber, a solid Japanese workhorse. After the conclusion of the initial Kickstarter campaign, Zelos announced that the final product would come equipped with an ETA 2824 at no extra charge to backers, with the one caveat being that delivery times might be delayed due to necessary component tweaks. Both are solid movements either way, though a Swiss caliber does help raise the perceived value of the Cosmos.
On the wrist the Cosmos sits large, though it is a replica comfortable casual watch. It might not fit under all shirt cuffs, but those with a little extra wiggle room shouldn’t have a problem. The provided strap is a decent enough stitched leather two-piece with a stamped faux gator print paired with a signed fake Zelos buckle. It is a bit stiff on the wrist but it should break in over time. Of course, the Cosmos would look just as good, if not better, with some more casual alternatives.
We have praised Zelos in the past, and with good reason. Though the designs may not be for everyone, it would be hard to deny that fake Zelos is driven by a cohesive, detail-oriented aesthetic. That is something that shouldn’t be taken for granted, as these multilayered designs require a great deal of tooling and forethought. None of this catalogue. All in all, this is a solid effort from the brand, one that continues the trajectory first laid forth by the Helmsman.