Zodiac Astrographic

This Funky Retro Watch Features Unique and Mysterious ‘Floating’ Hands


August 19, 2019 Watches By
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The Zodiac Astrographic stood out on the market when it was released in 1969, and it does once again today, re-released to mark its anniversary and that of the moon landing. With a funky, retro-futuristic aesthetic, the Astrographic features a rare “mystery dial,” in which the hands appear to be floating in mid-air. SPOILER ALERT: This is a clever optical illusion whose mysterious effect will be dispelled below.

The beguiling free-floating hands of the “mystery dial” have a history that goes back to clocks from the early 1800s, later made famous by Cartier. Quite simply, what look like normal watch hands are printed on clear discs, so there is no visible attachment to what is driving them. Even when you know how it works, it’s still captivating to look at and fun to show off. Particularly cool is watching the red dot of the sweeping seconds hand glide around the dial.

Zodiac previously brought back the Astrographic in a “tv-shaped” version, and the new one with its radially brushed barrel-like case feels equally like a “space age” throwback. Zodiac introduced the original Astrographic to celebrate the moon landing in 1969, so the 2019 model marks the 50th anniversary of both.

While the original featured a “high-beat” mechanical movement that emphasized its accuracy, the 2019 Astrographic uses an automatic movement from STP, which is also owned by Zodiac’s parent company Fossil. The STP 3-13 beats at 4Hz with a power reserve of 44 hours and the relatively unusual feature for Swiss movements at this price range of a swan-neck regulator (which helps watchmakers make finer adjustments during regulation).

The new Astrographic has a bold and funky look, but with relatively moderate measurements of 40mm wide and just 10mm thick, it promises to wear well on the wrist and is water-resistant to 100m. It’s available in two versions — in steel with a blue dial or all-gold PVD coating. Both come on a bracelet, are limited to 182 pieces and cost $1,295.

Gear Patrol also recommends:
Dan Henry 1964 Gran Turismo Chronograph ($250)
Seiko Solar Chronograph Watch ($350)
Hamilton Intra-Matic Auto Chrono Watch ($2,150)
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