Nicklaus, who will be 70 on Thursday, and Watson birdied two holes to win three skins and $130,000 on the back nine. They finished with 10 skins and $350,000 for their second victory in the event in four years.
It was an early birthday present for Nicklaus and a little redemption for the team after being blanked last year.
On a balmy day on Maui, Zoeller-Crenshaw took five straight skins for $230,000 to finish second in the alternate-shot, made-for-TV event. They were trying to become the first team to repeat after winning a record $530,000 last year.
Fred Couples, making his Champions Tour debut, and Nick Price sank a 4-footer for birdie on the playoff hole with two skins and $150,000 on the line â including the 18th-hold "Superskin" â to finish third with $190,000.
Gary Player and Loren Roberts were shutout.
After taking seven skins and $220,000 the first day, team Nicklaus-Watson looked to put it away early by taking the par-5 10th worth $80,000 and two skins. After a high-arching wedge shot by Watson, Nicklaus made the 8-foot birdie putt to push his team's take to $300,000 and nine skins.
"We're about to get skinned by the two older guys," Zoeller commented.
That's when the defending champs made a move, winning the next five skins.
Zoeller sparked the rally on par-3 11th by draining a 25-foot putt to halve the hole after Watson made a 40-footer that drew a roar from the gallery of several thousand.
Zoeller sank 3-foot birdie putts on Nos. 12 and 15 before Watson ended the run by crawling in a 25-foot putt for birdie on the par-4 16th for a $50,000 skin.
Nicklaus made his 20th appearance in the Champions Skins Game, which will be televised next month, and added to his record for skins (114) and money ($2.6 million).