Zodiac. A Stainless Steel GMT Chronograph Wristwatch
Valjoux 724 mechanical jeweled movement, matte black dial, luminous baton numerals with outer red accents, luminous hands with red tips and accents, outer minute divisions, central red GMT hand with large luminous arrow tip, three silvered engine-turned subsidiary dials for 12 hour and 30 minute registers and constant seconds, stainless steel case, faded blue and red bezel calibrated to 24 hours, two round chronograph buttons in the band, snap back, case, dial, and movement signed
In 1882, Ariste Calame founded a small watch company named after himself. Calame’s son, Louis, took after his father and went to watchmaking school, later taking part in the business. Louis favored controlled production of all parts of making a watch, and standardized quality. At the same time, the family had been using the trade-mark “Zodiac” but never registered it as the company’s name. In 1908, they registered the brand name “Zodiac” and opened a new factory. Zodiac began manufacturing its own calibers, but following World War I had difficulty producing enough to be profitable. Louis’s son, Rene A. Calame, joined the family business in the 1920’s, and helped bring the company out of the economic crisis. In 1930, the company launched one of the first Swiss automatic wristwatches, and in 1932 produced two notable inventions – the first being the Autographic power reserve indication system, the second being one of the first modern shock-resistant systems.
By the 1960’s, production of complicated watches for smaller brands became more difficult – each chronograph movement, for example, had to be adjusted and fitted. It was especially difficult if a company wanted to add a “specialty” line, such as a model that combined several complications, but had neither the production capability or the specialized staff. Wanting to add to their line-up of models, Zodiac began using movements manufactured by Heuer for several models, including the present GMT Chronograph. The case and dial design of the Heuer Autavia 2446C GMT were also adopted by Zodiac for this particular model.
The present Zodiac GMT Chronograph has retained the original faceting on the lugs, and the bezel has faded to a light metallic blue and red, which contrasts nicely with the dark dial and bright red accents. In many instances, these smaller branded watches that shared the movement and design of Heuers are harder to come by, especially in original condition, such as the present watch.