DOXA DIVINGSTAR COMPARISON
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - June 2005
There is no doubt that vintage Doxa SUBs are in short supply. They do turn up for sale periodically but the condition of them can be variable and the prices can reach the levels of the new SUBs. Of all the dial colours produced - Orange Professional, Black Sharkhunter, Yellow Divingstar and Silver Searambler, it is the yellow Divingstar that seems to be the most rare. Owners are not particularly keen to part with them and in any of the surviving catalogues or documentation from the 70s, the Divingstar is rarely seen. When Doxa made the SUB 300T reissue series in 2002 / 2003 there were only 200 of the Divingstar version made, they also are in short supply.
It is no surprise then that when Doxa announced the SUB 600T Seahunters Divingstar that all 100 pieces were sold in double quick time.
I have 15 Doxa watches in my collection but l do not have a vintage Divingstar. It was due to the kind actions of Joe Pignatelli and Markus Huber that l was able to get hold of a vintage SUB 300T from the Synchron era for a few days and hence write this review. When I opened the package from Joe I actually was wearing my 600T Divingstar and the first thing that struck me was how much darker the vintage dial was. I initially thought that because the watch was over 30 years old, the paint had oxidized considerably. However, that may not in fact be correct. I have the orange, black and silver dial SUB 300Ts from the same era and they have not diminished in colour very much with the passage of time. I now believe that the vintage dial was pretty close to the colour that can be seen today. In comparison to it, the modern SUB 600T is almost a lemon - yellow colour.
During the production history of the SUB 300T, Doxa made 3 different case thicknesses. The vintage Divingstar shown here is the second genaration Synchron case which is slightly thicker than the original SUB 300 / 300T case. What should be noted is that with each change in the case thickness, the bezel also changed slightly. This makes it almost impossible to find a replacement bezel for the vintage SUBs. Notice also, that the bezel on the vintage Divingstar is metric, whereas the modern version used an imperial Non Decompresion Table. The photo above shows that the vintage case is thicker than the new SUB 600T which was modeled on the original SUB 300 / 300T case design.
When Doxa became part of the Synchron group in November 1968 there were significant changes made to the SUB 300T. The increase in case thickness may not have been immediately apparent but the logo on the case back certainly was. Gone was the traditional sailing ship Doxa logo, only to be replaced by the 3 pronged Synchron star. The star is 3 pronged to represent the 3 major partners in the Synchron group Doxa, Borel and Cyma.
The modern Doxa belongs to the Jenny family and all SUBs produced since 2002 have used the classic Jenny J-fish logo on the caseback. If you look closely at the fish you will see the bottom of the J starting at the fish eye and ending with the dorsal fin.
In 1969 Doxa still had an agreement with US Divers so SUB 300Ts at this time had dials with either the US Divers aqualung logo or no logo at all. Once the Synchron group was formed, the SUB 300T dials incorporated that logo as well. SUBs with the US Divers logo have always commanded a higher selling price. People like the logo and the extra differentiation that it gives the watch. Because the licensing agreement has long since expired, it was impossible for Doxa to use the aqualung logo on the new SUB 600T Divingstar. However, they found the perfect replacement with the Seahunters hard hat diver logo. The Seahunters are the elite team of divers who work with Clive Cussler in his search for historically significant shipwrecks. They have been responsible for such finds as the Mary Celeste and the Carpathia.
The ricebead bracelet has always been admired by Doxa enthusiasts. So much so that when Doxa released the modern SUB 600T, they redesigned the ricebead bracelet. It had the same look but was significantly stronger and durable. The old bracelet had an innovative spring loaded divers expansion mechanism build into the ends of the clasp, however functional as it was, it was not particularly robust. The clasp also had a ratchet tensioning mechanism built into tthe clasp which made it easy to size the bracelet for different sized wrists. Again, unfortunately, it proved to be a weak link in the longevity of the bracelet. The new bracelet is considered by many to be aestetically very pleasing and extremely comfortable and the double locking system has proven to be very secure. If there was one thing that owners would have liked, it was solid end links. Doxa have addressed that issue and the ricebead bracelet on the new SUB 750T will have these as standard.
As the vintage Divingstar was not my property, I did not open it to check the movement. The fact that it has a quick set date indicates that it is an ETA 2783 which is distinguished by a rotor with the markings Synchron 58. Unlike the crown on the modern Divingstar, the vintage model reviewed here is not signed nor is it screwdown. The new SUB 600T Divingstar uses the tried and tested 25 Jewel ETA 2824-2, which is a modern version of the original SUB 300T's 17 Jewel ETA 2852 movement. I have discussed this movement in other reviews on this site so I'll not repeat meyself other than to say that this movement is robust, reliable and capable of accuracy within 5 seconds a day, right out of the box.
And that basically is about it for the review. The new SUB 600T Divingstar is a classic watch already and with only 100 made it has already increased in resale value. The vintage SUB 300T Divingstar will always be sought after and the fact that there are very few left makes it even more desirable.
If the SUB 300T Divingstar had been mine, it would have completed the collection of the vintage SUB 300Ts for me. I'll therefore close this review not with another Divingstar - Divingstar picture but one of all the vintage SUB 300Ts. I think you will agree, it's a hell of a nice family.