VINTAGE 600T - VINTAGE 750T
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - October 2004
Although the classic orange dial SUB 300T was dropped from production in the mid 1970s, Doxa did not stop making dive watches for at least another 10 years. Most vintage Doxas are pretty rare, but the later ones which also have the higher depth ratings are especially few and far between. I was lucky enough to get hold of both a SUB 600T and SUB 750T Searambler. What follows is a photographic review of 2 very different watches.
When compared to the older vintage SUB 300T Searambler, there are a number of differences which are immediate. First and foremost is the bezel. The newer 600T and 750T still use the Non Decompression (NONDECO) Dive Table bezel but it is a completely different design. The later bezel uses an aluminum insert on the bezel. This was to avoid scratching the bezel and sacrificing the looks. Anyone who owns a modern (since 2002) SUB will vouch for how hard it is to remove deep scratches from the bezel - although the new 600T bezel is case hardened to give better protection from scratches. The aluminium insert on the old 600T and 750T meant that it was much easier to rejeuvinate a damaged bezel. The down side of this is that it is much easier to damage the aluminium insert in the first place. The next significant difference in the 600T and 750T is the hands. Not only is the colour black instead of the more recognisable Searambler red, but the hour hand is bigger. The hands of the vintage Searambler are the same as the new 600T from 2004, whereas the hands of the older 600T and 750T are very similar to the 300T Reissue from 2002. When comparing the dials it can be seen that the luminous markers are slightly wider on the 600T and 750T and have more luminous material on them than the vintage 300T. The other obvious difference is the lack of the US Divers Aqualung logo. By this time the business venture between US Divers and Doxa had dissolved.
Turning the watches over gives us another surprise. The vintage SUBs had a number of casebacks which are instantly recognisable. The Doxa sailing ship and the Synchron triangle. The newer 600T and 700T have nothing to indicate their heritage. The cubed Swiss cross on the casebacks is only seen on Doxa SUBs from the 1980s.
Another part of the mystery was revealed because I was fortunate to get the original guarantee booklet with the SUB 750T. It shows the words "DOXA by Aubry of Switzerland". It seems that Aubry Freres acquired Doxa from the Swatch group in 1978. It was later bought over by the Jenny family and that is the reason the fish logo now appears on the casebacks of all modern Doxa SUBs.
When Doxa upgraded the depth rating on the SUB 300T to 600 Meters, they moved away from their traditional Tonneau case design. The 600T was a much squarer case and is reminiscent of the modern SUB 250. A review of which can be found here. Although the bezel on the 600T has remained basically the same thickness, the actual grips have almost doubled in width. Interestingly enough when the depth rating was then increased to 750 meters for the SUB 750T, the case design was switched back to the old Tonneau shape. The photo above clearly shows the difference in the cases. Notice how much thicker the SUB 750 case had become when compared to earlier SUB 300T models. It is also clear that both crowns, which are screw down, are not signed.
Unfortunately, I didn't get an original bracelet with the SUB 600T so I have no way of knowing if it was a ricebead variant or not. I have yet to see a vintage ricebead bracelet with flat end pieces so I suspect it may not have been.
The SUB 750T, on the other hand, did come with the original ricebead bracelet. It is slightly different to the ones used on the vintage SUBs in that the ends of the bracelet flaired out to meet the lateral edges of the cases. The clasp is also considerably wider and more substantial.
One advantage of the square case on the SUB 600T is that it allows me to use the thick mesh bracelet I have. I have long enthused about mesh bracelets. I use a polished one on my Coppa Milano Sanremo and I think the match with the brushed one and the 600T is just perfect.
You can't really blame me for including a wrist shot of the 600T and mesh. I was particularly lucky with the 600T because it has been recently refurbished by Doxa and it really is in absolutely new condition. This means that there may still be some of the old aluminium bezel inserts available from them.
I wasn't able to find out which movements were used in the 600T and 750T. They are both hacking. The vintage SUB 300T series used the non quickset ETA 2852. However, some of the later watches with the Synchron triangle caseback and some with the Doxa ship caseback, which had been serviced at a later date by Doxa, have a quickset movement. This is an ETA 2783 and is distinguished by a rotor with the markings Synchron 58. I suspect that both the 600T and 750T use the ETA 2783. It will have to wait until I find the need to remove one of the casebacks to confirm this.
Again, I think I was pretty lucky to be in the right place and the right time when both the SUB 600T and 750T came on the market. They are in superb condition and, especially the 750T, are quite rare. Doxa are also believed to have made a SUB 1000T, although I have never actually seen a picture of one. For the moment I'm content to have one of the highest depth rating Doxas ever made. I know that the pressure testing of the new 600T design went far in excess of 600 meters. Who knows what will come next from Rick and the boys in Bienne.