300T VINTAGE - 300T REISSUE - NEW 600T
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - October 2004
Although I have done a number of reviews on the 3 generations of Doxa SUBs, I never actually sat down to compare them all side by side. A couple of questions on the forums asking about the difference prompted me to get the camera out and the fingers flying over the keyboard again. Most of the information can be found in several of the other reviews I have done so I apologize for repeating myself, but hopefully this will answer most of the questions people have when it comes to deciding which of the 3 SUB models they should get.
The classic Doxa SUB range was unleashed on the general public in 1966. Full details of the design and testing of the watch can be found here. The orange dial and unique Non Decompression Table bezel were a big hit and Doxa continued to release a number of models with different dial colours and increased depth ratings until the mid 70s, when, like a number of other famous Swiss watch manufacturers, they began to fall victim to the quartz revolution. Although Doxa continued to produce watches for quite a number of years, the SUB 300T disappeared from the market.
That basically is where the story ended until 2002 when Doxa surprised everyone and brought out the SUB 300T Reissue. As I've mentioned many times before, this was a watch which put Doxa back on the dive watch map. It was big, it was heavy, it looked similar to the vintage 300T, but it was different. The case was a unique shape, which had it's heritage in the classic Tonneau design but it had extended lugs and was several millimeters taller than the original case. The biggest change was the bracelet. The general opinion on the old rice bead bracelet was that it was one of the best looking bracelets around but it was not particularly strong and many of them never survived the test of time. The Reissue bracelet was completely different. It was a brute. Designed to stand the test of time and any other mechanical stress test you would care to throw at it. However, both it and the case were somewhat controversial. Many people either loved them or loathed them, there wasn't much middle ground. The biggest sticking point was that the lug width was only 12mm. That meant that there were virtually no aftermarket bracelets or straps available for the watch. It wasn't an insurmountable problem as I easily modified a Seiko Orange Monster bracelet and several rubber straps to fit the case, but it still meant that the majority of people were stuck with the new "bike chain" style bracelet. All in all, Doxa produced 2,000 of the orange dial Reissues. 1,000 of the professional version and 1,000 of the Clive Cussler - Seahunter edition. Both watches were virtually identical except the Seahunter had a blue minute hand, a diver logo on the dial, more writing on the caseback and a signed certificate from Clive Cussler. This link will take you to a more detailed comparison of the 2 watches. There were also 1,000 black dialed Sharkhunter and yellow dialed Divingstar versions produced, although the Divingstar version seems particularly rare.
Perhaps it was because of the radical design of the 300T Reissue and the polarisation of opinions that it generated or the fact that people expressed a desire to have a SUB which was closer to the vintage model that Doxa designed the new 600T to be a very close facsimile of the original 300T. There is no doubt that the Doxa design team listened to the suggestions and criticisms of the previous 2 years. The 600T is truly amazing and while it bears a resemblance to the 300T Reissue it is a completely different watch. But Doxa didn't stop there, they totally redesigned the bracelet. It looks very like the vintage rice bead bracelet, except it has the modern clasp with diver's extension, but also it is far stronger and substantial and just adds to the wearing experience of the 600T.
So how closely do the new models resemble the vintage SUB 300T? Obviously the depth rating for the 600T is greater than for the 300T, but for most people that is not an issue. The deepest I've ever taken my 300T Reissue is about 30 feet, the 600T has been down to 12 feet. I doubt either will ever go below 50. One thing worth noting at this point is that there were 3 different thicknesses of case for the vintage 300T. The early versions were the thinnest. The second photo in this review shows the 300T Conquistador which had the thinnest case. This is the case that the new 600T was based on. Another thing to note was that each case size also had a different bezel as well. This makes it very difficult to find New Old Stock (NOS) bezels to fit the vintage models. They occasionally turn up - mostly for the older, thinner cases or SUB 300 (note 300 not 300T) but it's a crap shoot as to whether the one you get will fit the model you have.
This photo shows the 3 cases stacked on top of each other. On the bottom is the 300T Reissue, then the vintage 300T and on the top, the 600T. The dimensions of the various models are as follows:-
It's not blatantly obvious from the photo above, but there is a subtle difference in the dial colours. The 300T has an orange colour that is supposed to match an aged vintage dial.T The dial of the 600T is the same colour code as that used on the vintage SUBs. Overall the face of the 600T looks to be a slightly brighter orange. This could also be due to the fact that the dial is under a slightly domed sapphire crystal and is set closer to the crystal than the 300T Reissue. There are also differences in the bezels. The 600T is virtually identical to the vintage 300T with feet markers and 60 click rotation. The 300T Reissue uses the metric dive table, has 120 click rotation and overall the bezel is slightly thicker. Visually the biggest difference has to be the hands. Again the 600T uses the same hands as the vintage SUBs whereas the Reissue has both larger minute and hours hands. A question often asked is will the hands of the 600T fit the 300T Reissue. There has been no definitive answer from Doxa on this but I have to say yes they would. Both of the modern Doxa SUBs use the same movement (ETA 2824-2), so why would the hands not be interchangeable. Doxa have said that they would not do the swap, but if it was possible to buy the hands then you could do the modification. Doxa have, however, confirmed that the modern hands will not fit the vintage ETA 2852 movement, which incidentally does not have a quickset date. There are some of the later vintage models which do have a quickset date mechanism.
Once you turn the watches over then it is unmistakable what each watch is. Both the modern SUBs have the Jenny family fish logo. The unique 300T Reissue case could be picked out of a lineup 300 feet away and in the dark. The vintage SUB caseback has the old Doxa sailing ship logo. Note in the lower left corner of the above photo, the HR valve case modification. The crowns of all 3 watches are significantly different. All are screwed and are fairly easy to manipulate. The modern SUBs have signed crowns, again with the Jenny logo. Some vintage crowns are signed - Doxa, some aren't and some are not screwed. It really depends on the date the watch was manufactured. The big difference with the vintage 300T Conquistador is it uses a decoupled crown. This means that when you screw it down or unscrew it, it is not connected to the barrel and thus you're not winding the watch at the same time. I know of no other vintage or modern SUBs which have this feature. The only other thing worth mentioning is that both the 300T Reissue and 600T came in a very nice aluminium tube with a bracelet removing tool in the case of the 600T and 2 screwdrivers with the 300T Reissue. The 300T Reissue also had a leatherette strap included.
I thought I'd leave the last photo in this review to Yves Lang and Markus Huber. It's a great shot of the collection Markus has and it bears a strong resemblance to my 3 Doxas. Ultimately, the whole point of this comparison was to let people see the differences between the vintage 300T, Reissue 300T and the new 600T so that they could better decide which one to own. Many people have asked me that if I could only have one Doxa which one would it be? Tough call, because I love all of them, but in my case it would be down to the Coppa Milano Sanremo and the vintage SUB 300T Conquistador. Both watches are unmistakably Doxa, but both are completely different. In the end I would have to go for the vintage SUB 300T. Not just because it is the unique Helium Release Valve Conquistador, but because it is the definitive Doxa diving watch. Sure there are others with higher specifications and water resistance, but this is the guy that started it all. Now, the problem is that most good condition vintage Doxas are in pretty short supply so the chance of getting one is slim, and they are getting more expensive, but, if I had the choice of spending say 1,000 Dollars on any of the 3 watches in this review, then the vintage SUB would win every time. A fairer question would be; which of the newer models would I choose? I've sort of changed my opinion on this one over the last year. I used to say go for the 300T Reissue as it is more of a man's diver's watch. That's not to say the 600T isn't but the 300T is a bigger, beefier, tool watch. However, I have a fairly small wrist at 6.5 inches and there is no question that the 600T sits and feels and wears better than it's bigger brother. Overall, the 600T has a slightly higher quality finish than the 300T except, in my opinion, the bezel which has a 60 click rotation rather than the 120 click rotation of the 300T. Doxa say the 600T has a better bezel, I however, prefer the smoother movement of the 300T. If you have bigger wrists then there probably isn't much in it for wearer comfort and the 300T has the advantage in that it is more limited than the 600T and it is also a unique design. Nothing looks like the case and bracelet and I doubt anything will again until Doxa release the Reissue of the Reissue in 30 years time. It also has the distinction of being the watch that fueled Doxa's re-emergence in the Dive Watch business. At the end of the day, you go with your gut feeling. There is nothing that would stop me from buying any one of the 3 watches and I know most people feel the same. After all it's an orange dial Doxa SUB. What more is there to say.