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Home > TOP 20 "Poor Man's" Watches (old format) > - THE TOP 20 LIST - (old format until Nov 2009)
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05- Zodiac Oceanaire Automatic
Nominated by Chance:
During their first production run, the Zodiac ZO800x Oceanaire automatic divers were well-regarded for their retro styling (quite similar to the Seiko 6105 divers of yore), Swiss Made pedigree, stout bracelets and excellent build quality. There were a few flies in the ointment, however. Prices were high with little in the way of discounting. Upon discontinuation, prices for used examples skyrocketed beyond what the watches likely were truly worth. And the watch's "Swiss Made" badge found some opposition when it was revealed that the Claro-Semag CL888 movement was essentially a Chinese Sea-Gull ST16, albeit with more refinement and better finishing. Though reports of full-on failure have been quite rare, there were reports of seconds hand jumpiness, sometimes during regular operation and sometimes after starting the watch running after setting the time. Despite these issues, the Oceanaire remained popular as evidenced by their relative rarity on sales forums, as well as how quickly they were snatched up when they did appear.

Earlier this year, it came as a surprise (at least to me) that Zodiac resumed production of the Oceanaire divers. And even more surprising was the fact that prices had come way down. Just over a month ago, Metro Watch Company, Zodiac's eBay outlet, unloaded a bunch of 'em for less than $200 each. Same great watch, great new low price.

At its present price point, both when found new and when found on sales forums, the Oceanaire is a surefire nominee for inclusion on the Top 20 list. If new examples are all like mine, any rough edges on the CL888 have been smoothed out. The seconds hand on my example, a black-dialed ZO8000, is smooth, though it does move two or three seconds when set to run from hacking position. Not a problem, as 2-3 seconds later, it begins running as intended. It's also very accurate, just 5-6 seconds fast per day. Still present from the first run is the wonderful build quality, bold dial/hands/case styling, robust screwdown crown (10 turns worth), and nifty and deeply engraved caseback. My only gripe with this watch is with its bracelet, which unfortunately has links so big and clasp micro adjustments so few that precise sizing is difficult. Luckily, the Oceanaire is a knockout on rubber straps. (see below) Simply put, you will not find another Swiss Made diver with this much presence and such a rich set of features for $200.
ocean.jpg promast.jpg zod.jpg IMG_0899-1.jpg Seiko_(Prospex)_SBCB009.jpg
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Album name:admin / - THE TOP 20 LIST - (old format until Nov 2009)
Album description:20 Best Watch Buys below USD 1'000 suggested by PMWFers
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Keywords:Zodiac Oceanaire Automatic
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