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Zeppelin - The 7 Best Affordable Watches from Germany

Posted on July 22 2021

Best Zeppelin Watches

I've got a soft spot for family-run watch businesses.

It's where many of the iconic Swiss brands started. Small workshops, often attached to the family home, where a lone watchmaker launched their dream.

But this isn't Victorian-era Switzerland. Most modern watch brands begin life differently. They leverage social media and crowdfunding platforms to finance Chinese-made watches.

But there are exceptions. Particularly if they started pre-internet.

POINTtec is one of those exceptions. It's an ambitious family-run company that makes its watches in Germany.

They own a few watch brands, including Iron Annie, Junkers and Bauhaus. But I want to show you their Zeppelin watches.

Trust me, if you like German watches you're going to find this brand very interesting.

A Brief History of POINTtec and Zeppelin Watches


Like many great watch brands, POINTtec began with a single founder. In the late 1980s, Willi Birk created a watch business in Germany - albeit with most of his watches made in France.

Following the fall of the Berlin wall, he relocated the company to the historic watchmaking town of Rhula.

This is where most of POINTtec's watches are now made. It means that POINTtec watches display 'Made in Germany' on the dial.

Although the company produced radio-controlled watches, it was the launch of Junker's watches that is more interesting. POINTtec and the Junker's family began working together in 1996. They began designing watches that referenced the successes of the famous aeroplane manufacturer.

Zeppelin was then launched in 2002.

The Maximilian München, Iron Annie and Bauhaus brands were to follow.



Where are Zeppelin Watches Made?


Production is still based in Rhula, Germany.

As a side note, they also have a museum in the POINTtec building. It's dedicated to the towns watchmaking history.

All Zeppelin watches are therefore labelled as Made in Germany.
Zeppelin are still a family-owned and owner-run business.

Are Zeppelin Watches Any Good?


I'm confident that the answer is yes.

Zeppelin watches are of good quality when taking into consideration the price of the watches.

Zeppelin is an affordable brand and the specifications reflect this. They use a mixture of movements, with most imported from Switzerland and some from Japan.

They do a mixture of quartz and mechanical models. The lower-priced Zeppelin watches start between £100-£200. The best mechanical models can cost several hundred pounds.

Remember, these are German-made watches. And Germany has a great reputation for manufacturing.

The 7 Best Zeppelin Watches


I want to show you a selection of the best watches that Zeppelin currently offer. There's a lot of overlap in the brand's range. They draw heavily on German aviation history. The company is seen as a specialist in vintage-themed aviation pieces.

There are also a lot of chronographs.

I've tried to not overdo the list with aviation and chronograph models.

Some Zeppelin watches also take inspiration from the German Bauhaus art movement. They're not a Bauhaus inspired company like fellow German's Nomos and Junghans. But a similar minimalist styling is apparent in some models.

I've selected my favourites and I'm confident that you'll see a fair reflection of the brand. So let's dig in.

Zeppelin 100 Years 7654-4 Watch

The first watch that I'd like to highlight is an elegant automatic model. Although German-made, it has a Swiss ETA movement and is at the top end of Zeppelins line.

I love it. It takes a vintage style and slightly updates the design for a modern audience. The ornate hands and dial are authentic to the period that the watch evokes.

It almost looks like a pocket watch.

But the 42mm case and sapphire crystal are more in keeping with modern tastes.

This blend of styles works for me and makes for a versatile watch. It looks dated but will wear like a modern piece. Importantly, it benefits from a Swiss-made movement and modern German manufacturing.

The dial is exquisite and has an off-white background and navy blue text. It's busy, but not cluttered and is presented in a simple round case.

I'd start here with Zeppelin. This is the brand at its best.

Zeppelin 100 Years 7654-4

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Swiss ETA Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Zeppelin LZ127 8674-3

Reverse Panda dial watches are stunning. The contrast of the white sub-dials on a black background is a bold look. And I'm a fan.

It's a style that you'll often see on sports chronographs and motorsports watches. Zeppelin has used this format on an aviation piece - and it's a winner.

Why?

Because they've kept things simple. There are two sub-dials and they are positioned to maintain symmetry on the dial. Importantly, they don't cut into the pilot-style numerals.

The date has been repositioned to 6 o'clock and that also helps balance the dial. With the spartan colour palette and basic black strap, the overall effect is of a functional aviators watch.

It's an inexpensive model, so the specs aren't the same as the 100 Years. This watch has a quartz movement and a K1 mineral crystal.

Panda dial watches are a popular choice for chronographs. This is the best of Zeppelin's black and white models.

Zeppelin LZ127 8674-3

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • K1 Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Zeppelin Atlantic GMT Watch

The Zeppelin Atlantic is a subtle GMT watch.

The GMT hand and the 24hr track are discreet. It makes for a very attractive watch. It doesn't let the inclusion of a second timezone overwhelm the design.

Like most of Zeppelin's designs, this model is available in a couple of colours. I prefer this light dial version. It's clean, legible and refined.

Despite being a GMT watch - an aviation feature - this could be a dress watch. At 40mm it's the correct size and the colouring is smart, rather than sporty.

Like the last watch, this is at the more affordable end of Zeppelin's range. And like the previous watch, it's a quartz model.

When you think of a GMT watch, you probably picture a Rolex GMT Master or similar. The Atlantic has a very different aesthetic. It makes a great alternative to the sporty GMT designs.

Zeppelin Atlantic 8442-5

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • K1 Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance

 


Zeppelin 100 Years 8680-4

This is a great example of a busy chronograph. Again, this watch feels like a pilots tool, with the green colouring hinting at a militaristic role.

It's a familiar design, not unique to German watches. It's also a tried and tested look that has remained popular for decades.

But the green dial and strap help this model stand out. Green isn't a popular choice for watches - outside of a few divers and military models. Despite that, it's successful here.

The dial is busy. And that can often be a problem. By using a simple colour palette and small dots rather than numerals, Zeppelin has managed to keep the dial legible.

The all-important symmetry and a neat date window tucked away at 4 o'clock have won me over. As has the price.

My only gripe with this handsome watch is the size. At 43mm (plus chronograph pushers) it's larger than I'd like. Seagull's 1963 Chronograph, for example, comes in 38mm and 40mm versions.

But if 43mm suits you, this is a great pilot's chronograph. It might be the only fully green aviation Chrono available.

Zeppelin 100 Years 8680-4

  • 43mm Diameter
  • 13mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Zeppelin Los Amgeles 7614-5 Chronograph Watch

The Zeppelin Los Angeles is a similar watch. A busy looking quartz chronograph with a strong vintage aesthetic. It's reminiscent of one of my favourite Russian watches, the Strela.

Whilst being similar in styling to the 100 Years, there is a sharp contrast between the two models. The Los Angeles is brighter and more colourful, with an obvious classic styling.

It does a few things that I don't like. The sub-dials cut through the numerals for example.

But it does a lot more that I do like. The off-white dial, with the subtle tachymeter and minute track, is very appealing. As are the vintage style hands.

Again, the case is over 40mm - but it's not a dealbreaker. This is another inexpensive chronograph that harks back to an earlier era. And if judged on that basis, this is a cracking watch.

Zeppelin Los Angeles 7614-5

  • 42mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 22mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Quartz movement
  • Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance



Moonphase watches sum up the madness of buying watches. None of us needs to track the moon's cycle. But so many of us lust after moon phase watches.

This is my favourite Zeppelin moon phase watch. It's elegant, minimalist and needlessly shows you the moon's position.

Let's deal with the design first.

The Rome is fairly typical of a moon phase watch. They tend to be smart, dressy and feature the moon phase complication prominently. The Rome doesn't disappoint. It ticks all of those boxes.

There's a hint of Bauhaus in the design, but it's only a hint. The case has the simplicity of a Bauhaus model and it has similar neat markers.

But it could just as easily be labelled as a classic dress watch. Either way, it's an impressive piece that looks German. And the moon phase window carries the design well.

It's automatic. So that means a Swiss-made movement. That is reflected in the price. It's two or three times the price of some other watches on my list. But it's not over-priced.

If you want more Bauhaus and less aviation, take a closer look at this beauty.

Zeppelin Rome 7108-4

  • 41mm Diameter
  • 12mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • Sapphire Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Zeppelin Hindenburg Watch

You may have already noticed that Zeppelin watches carry a number that refers to a Zeppelin airship. This watch has the number LZ129 - one of the most famous, or notorious of the airship identifiers.

This watch is inspired by the Hindenburg, a Zeppelin that caught fire and cost 35 lives.

There are a couple of variations of this watch and in the end, I settled on the black version for my list. It's another vintage-looking piece that succeeds due to its simplicity.

It has a straightforward black dial, numerals every two hours and a simple case. Although it's an automatic, it's priced nearer to Zeppelin's quartz models.

Again, there is a hint of Bauhaus in this watch. That's reinforced with the utilitarian mesh strap and the slim, round case.

This is probably the best value Zeppelin watch. It has a reliable Japanese mechanical movement and comes in at around £200.

If budget is a big concern, I'd suggest taking a closer look at the Hindenburg.

Zeppelin Hindenburg 8062-M2

  • 40mm Diameter
  • 11.8mm Thick
  • 20mm Lug width
  • Stainless Steel
  • Automatic movement
  • K1 Mineral Crystal
  • 50M Water Resistance


Conclusion


Buying from a family-owned business feels right.

It's one of the reasons that I got interested in smaller brand's watches. I remember buying a Marc and Sons watch and dealing with Marco. Or emailing Bertucci watches and getting a reply from Mike Bertucci.

And that is one of the reasons that POINTtec watches have stood out. Because they have a single founder and he's still at the helm of the business.

Look at the video above. That's him on the video showing you around his company.

If you add to that the German manufacturing and the use of Swiss movements, then Zeppelin has a compelling brand.

That's why I wanted to do a piece on them. I wanted to tell you all about them.

With that in mind, I hope that you found a watch here that piqued your interest.

If so, tell me more in the comments below.

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