In this Zeppelin Atlantic Ref. 8466-5 review, we’ll soar across the ocean on the airships of the brand’s namesake and determine if it’s a worthy companion for you to bring to the skies.
If you’re in the market for a moderate-sized dressier timepiece, consider the Atlantic from Zeppelin — a little-known manufacturer that deserves some attention. Equipped with an automatic movement, this watch has a look that is undeniably dressy yet unique, all at a sub-$300 price point.
There’s so much to discover about the Zeppelin Atlantic, from its display back, color variations, and its parent company’s history. Read on to learn more and find out about this nostalgic timepiece.
PointTec: The Company
Although watch enthusiasts love big Swiss and Japanese brands for their history, other microbrands’ unique offerings with innovative and experimental styles may often be overlooked for the sake of familiarity.
Before we examine the Atlantic and all of its refreshing stylistic waves, let’s take a brief look at PointTec — the parent group of the Zeppelin brand.
PointTec is a family-owned company that has been in the watchmaking space for over 30 years since its inception in 1987. Their debut occurred at a time when microbrands pushed the boundaries of watch size and style to attract interest and media attention. A 48mm diameter debut was provocative and made a daring statement.
After the fall of the German Democratic Republic, production was relocated from France to Ruhla, Thuringia, in Germany.
The brand’s competence in developing and producing multifunctional watches persisted throughout its history. In cooperation, the radio-controlled Maximilian München was launched in 1994.
In 1996, the brand secured a contract to produce 1,000 chronographs for Bosch-Junkers centenary and allowed the group to start producing many cockpit-inspired pilot’s watches under the Junkers name.
Later, in 2002, the Zeppelin brand was created to expand the company’s portfolio. This line of dressier, vintage-inspired pieces harks back to an era of giant airships, a pioneering aviation spirit, and elegant classical designs.
Cooperation with renowned porcelain maker Rosenthal starting in 2014 yielded a number of hand-painted dials that are demonstrably distinctive.
Most recently, in 2017, PointTec has further expanded by consolidating the Junkers brand into the Iron Annie lineup — a nickname given to the Ju 52 transport aircraft. In 2019, it embraced the German Bauhaus design, creating pieces reminiscent of Nomos’ and Junghans’ at a budget.
All PointTec watches bear the quality seal “Made in Germany.”
While not as stringent as the venerable “Swiss Made” stamped on the dials of many more expensive watches, the greater mission of founder Willi Birk to provide customers with a high-grade individualistic timepiece has been largely achieved through the company’s expansive portfolio.
Zeppelin Atlantic Overview
Now that you know a bit more about PointTec’s history and its development of thematic watches under the Zeppelin name let’s take a look at the Atlantic in greater detail.
The Zeppelin Atlantic is not your typical modern dress watch. Where a slim and diminutive profile is often necessary to slip under the cuff of a dress shirt, this Zeppelin is on the larger side.
However, the Atlantic packs an automatic movement and features a comfortable padded calf leather strap with contrasting stitching. Perhaps even more striking is the dial color of this reference. Featuring luminescence on a vintage beige dial is a reminder that classy colors exist outside of black and white.
Historically, the PointTec group has used a wide range of movements to accommodate budget-friendly quartz pieces all the way to fully mechanical chronograph movements — from Ronda Swiss Quartz to mid-range automatic Miyotas to Glashütte chronometer certified Valjoux 7753 chronographs.
The Miyota 8205 in the Zeppelin Atlantic is an entry-level 3-hand automatic movement that features 21 jewels and 21,600bpm. Although it doesn’t feature hacking, there are both day and date complications; in this instance, the second language wheel is in German.
Pretty unassuming, right? That’s where the display back comes in.
The otherwise typical Miyota movement is actually the variant Caliber 8205 Gilt — attractively embellished with gold plating on almost all steel surfaces.
The brushed rotor with contrasting black lettering rotates smoothly to wind up the 8205’s 42-hour power reserve. The rubies and silver-colored screws provide a nice depth and complexity to the rest of the movement.
The display back is a nice addition here because Zeppelin chose a flashier movement than the otherwise standard 8205.
The Zeppelin straddles the line between dress watch and aviation watch. Aiming to capture the idyllic nostalgia of the airships that took flight in the early 20th Century, the sizing and wrist presence is closer to that of an aviator, yet the styling is unmistakably dressy.
The 40mm case diameter is a well-accepted standard for modern watches. However, the Atlantic is indeed an option for even the slim wristed, with a lug-to-lug measurement of only 45.7mm.
The lug width sits at a bog-standard 20mm, making interchanging straps convenient with many other watches. A bulkier than expected case depth of 12mm limits the ease of fitting the Atlantic under a cuff.
Overall, the lack of a substantial bezel and a wide dial allows the Atlantic to command significant wrist presence and provide great legibility.
The Case & Crystal
The Atlantic’s case uses the industry standard 316L stainless steel. The circular case is two-tiered, as are the lugs that protrude out to accommodate a 20mm strap. There is no bezel; the well-domed mineral crystal encompasses the entire face of the watch.
A knurled crown is seen in the standard 3 o’clock position and manages day/date function with one click and the time pulled out with two clicks.
As mentioned before, the transparent case back shows off the gilded movement. Unlike other applications on lower-end Seiko 5s, it can be viewed conveniently when paired with the leather strap.
The Atlantic’s dial is incredibly legible and elegant. The beige dial features polished markers at every hour marker and thicker markers at the 12 and 6. Black and white day-date wheels reside just inside the printed minute track at the 3 o’clock position.
The Zeppelin logo is prominently featured at the top and well balanced by the model number and ‘automatic’ in cursive. ‘Made in Germany’ rounds out the text on the watch at the very bottom between hour markers 5 and 7.
The hands are well suited to match the aesthetic for which the Atlantic strives. The hour and minute dauphine hands have a polished trim with a black center. Paired with a black baton seconds hand, the contrast provides legibility of the time despite the reflective chrome finish.
The lume on the Atlantic is something to behold. The beige dial itself is entirely luminescent and, in dark environments, enables the watch to glow like a blue flashlight.
The Zeppelin Atlantic’s strap is fitting for its style and price tag. Unlike fast fashion watches around the mid $200 price point, Zeppelin ditches the generic genuine leather and opts for a hand-crafted calfskin strap.
The two-tone brown leather is well padded and comfortable. Visually, it features contrasting parallel beige stitching and a stainless clasp signed with the Zeppelin insignia.
Ideally, a butterfly mechanism would aid in its longevity. However, this stock strap fits the bill well and is certainly not a deal breaker.
Overall Pros and Cons
Given the details, this rundown of the Pros and Cons of the Zeppelin Atlantic can better inform your purchase decision. In no way do these points account for every individual’s subjective taste, but certain details are further praised or nitpicked here.
- Nostalgic, elegant design
- Fully-lumed dial
- Transparent case back featuring a gilded automatic
- Quality leather strap
The most unique and attractive feature that would draw buyers of Zeppelin watches is the nostalgia-inducing design. Although seemingly fitting neither mold of dress or aviation watch, it manages to incorporate elements of both (with enough reservation) to be incredibly bold and elegant.
While the watch’s dimensions appear to be on the larger end for slim-wristed folks, much of its additional depth is made up of the domed crystal, and the short lug-to-lug distance accommodates all who seek a significant wrist presence from a watch.
The fully lumed dial offers unparalleled visibility in the dark, and the thoughtfully considered dauphine hands and contrasting minute track offer good legibility whenever the time is needed.
The gilded automatic is uncommon; its inclusion makes good use of the transparent case-back.
- Paper dimensions
- Mineral crystal
- Lower-end Miyota
The Zeppelin Atlantic gets a lot right. Even still, no watch is perfect.
The paper dimensions can be a little deceiving, especially since this isn’t a brand or line of watches that receive much mainstream coverage. The case size appears larger due to the thin bezels (and large diameter dial). However, the depth does not feel like the advertised 12mm in large part due to a domed crystal.
A short lug-to-lug distance also makes it indeed viable for slimmer wrists, unlike watches with flatter lugs.
The mineral crystal is definitely a significant downside. The glass cannot be easily polished like acrylic and is not scratch resistant like sapphire. Like the airships of yesterday, it will certainly pick up scratches from everyday use.
Although the gilded movement is a visual pleasure, the true specifications won’t impress a watch enthusiast who chases numbers. The tolerances aren’t great, and the second-hand does not hack when setting time while wound. However, it does provide the basics and a little convenience with the day/date function.
The Zeppelin Atlantic is an incredibly unique watch. The unorthodox combination of dauphine hands and a thin bezel really feels like a throwback to the style of those able to afford the first trans-Atlantic flights.
The decision to spring for watches in Zeppelin’s lineup largely comes down to if the wearer resonates with the essence of luxurious travel in times past.
If beige is not up your alley, Zeppelin also makes the Atlantic in black and blue dial colors. They lose the full-lume but are also easier to pair for a casual wardrobe.
Other Atlantic models maintain the hand-set and case design but include more complications such as power reserve, GMT hand, or even much more expensive models with automatic chronographs.
The stock strap is excellent as it comes; attaching an aftermarket butterfly clasp to ensure its longevity is never a bad option for leather straps universally.
Overall, the most basic Zeppelin Atlantic featured today captures the spirit of the first aviators while not going overboard on price and complications. The dial is clean and legible while providing enough interest to captivate every time you glance down.
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