DOXA GMT SUB 750T CARIBBEAN
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - December 2006
OK admit it, how many people instantly recognize these lines?
Now we're sharing the same dream
And our hearts they beat as one
No more love on the run
For those that don't, they are from a song by Billy Ocean called Caribbean Queen. So what has that to do with a new watch from Doxa? Well actually quite a lot. In September 2006 DOXA introduced a new member of the SUB 750T family. It had a yellow dial and was called a Divingstar, but it was unlike any SUB seen before. It was instantly recognizable as a DOXA SUB because it had the classic Tonneau case and the non-decompression bezel but it also had something extra; another crown and another hour hand. The watch was the GMT SUB 750T. Many people had voted in an online poll for a GMT version of the SUB 750T and DOXA responded with the GMT SUB 750T Divingstar. The case and bracelet are based on the standard SUB 750T with the usual 120 click non-decompression bezel, sapphire crystal and 'ricebead' bracelet with divers extension hidden in the double locking clasp. The GMT has the same dimensions as the SUB 750T (Width 45mm, Length 47mm, Height 14mm and Lug Width 21mm). Like the SUB 750T, it is a big watch, but also like the 750T, it is a comfortable watch. A full review of the 750T can be found here. However, there are some obvious and some not so obvious differences. First the obvious ones. The addition of a second crown is by far the biggest change to the iconic Doxa SUB Tonneau case. The upper crown has only one function and that is to rotate the 24 hour chapter ring. The lower crown is used to set the date and time. The dial is the traditional DOXA standard which incorporates the large luminous markers but the chapter ring has been modified to include the 24 hour numerals. The final visible modification is the addition of a 'skeleton' hour hand for the second time zone. A third time zone can be displayed using the skeleton hour hand pointing to a 24 hour scale on the separately adjustable inner bezel. The initial issue of the GMT came in the yellow Divingstar livery but by November DOXA had listened to its customer base and released an orange Professional version and a blue Caribbean which not surprisingly has been nicknamed the Caribbean Queen and hence the link to the song because "now we are all sharing the same dream and our hearts beat as one, no more love on the run. OK, OK really cheezy, but what the heck, it sounds good. DOXA have also indicated that other colours may follow so ultimately there may be a GMT SUB 750T Sharkhunter and Searamber as well.
The GMT comes in the 'standard' Doxa SUB packaging which is the aluminium tube and a separate CD case. I've owned almost 20 different Doxa watches in my time but I was really looking forward to getting this one because it was a significant departure from the traditional Doxa SUB. The addition of another skeleton GMT hand is a significant change to the classic SUB design. Then there is the change to the dial and chapter ring. In many ways the dial still retains the traditional Doxa SUB flavour but now there are numbers round the outside. The chapter ring also has changed significantly having now a set of 24 hours markings and half the ring being blue and the other half being orange. Actually I think the GMT SUB 750T is approaching the record for the most numbers on a watch. If you include the date and the non-decompression bezel, the front of the watch exhibits 58 numbers.
The caseback wording has changed as well. In addition to - LIMITED EDITION - PATENTED BEZEL US 3505808 - SWISS MADE - WATER RESISTANT 750 METERS - 2460 FEET - it also says - PROFESSIONAL SERIES - LIMITED EDITION - XXXX/1000 - SUB 750T GMT - 3 TIME ZONES.
One of the things that is noticeable about the GMT Caribbean dial which is different to the original SUB750T Caribbean is the luminous hour markers. On the GMT there are no lines which delineate the white background from the luminous material. It looks like the whole area is luminous but closer inspection shows that it is only the middle section which has the green Superluminova tint. For me this is a mistake and I don't know if it is deliberate on Doxa's part or a function of the dial printer. The thin lines between the white background and the luminous strip on the hour markers is as much a part of the Doxa design and heritage as the 'ricebead' bracelet or non-decompression dive table bezel. As it is the hour markers look like just a big splodge of white. If I had a steady hand and a very thin drafting ink pen I would remove the dial and 'paint' in thin lines between the white background and the luminous material.
Take a look at the GMT and non GMT Caribbean dials and see which one you prefer. Another change with the GMT Caribbean is that an orange sweep second hand is now longer used. Instead it is white.
Finally a change which is not so noticeable is the bracelet. It still maintains the major dimensions started with the SUB 750T, namely 20mm width over the whole length and 21mm solid endpieces and lug width. The changes are that the thickness of the bracelet has increased slightly and the link pins are screws and not the pin and collar arrangement which was in the initial SUB 600T and 750T watches. The photo above shows the 600T bracelet on the bottom, the 750T bracelet in the middle and the GMT bracelet on top. There is a definite change in design from the 600T to the 750T and an increase in thickness in the GMT bracelet.
Another virtually un-noticeable change to the bracelet is in the clasp. The gauge of steel is slightly thicker. The clasp pivot pieces have been made wider and the actually lip on the clasp which you insert your finger tip under in order to open it has also changed shape slightly. Also the primary locking mechanism for the clasp has changed design. The GMT clasp now uses a small piece of steel to "grip" the clasp pivot piece. It can be seen just below the blue letter A in the above image. To facilitate easy resizing, Doxa include a tool with a screwdriver bit. The bracelet retains the brushed front and polished sides from the SUB 750T model.
What I found most interesting was that even though the GMT is exactly the same dimensions at the SUB 750T, because of the addition of the 24 hour chapter ring and the smaller dial, the watch seemed to be smaller than the standard 750T. The photo above is a comparison shot of the 600T, GMT and 750T. For me the wider dial on the 750T really makes a difference in the perceived size of the watch.
The fact that the watch needed to be capable of telling the time in different time zones meant that a new movement had to be used. In place of the ETA 2824-2 which had been the movement of choice in all the modern SUBs except the T-Graph and SUB 250, DOXA used the high-grade ETA 2893-2. This is an automatic movement, adjusted in 5 positions with hacking seconds, runs at 28.800 beats per hour, has 21 jewels, Glucydur balance, Nivarox hairspring, and a rotor which has been engraved with the DOXA logo.
Using the crowns is simplicity itself. The upper crown unscrews and turning the crown clockwise or anti-clockwise will rotate the 24 hour chapter ring either clockwise or anticlockwise without the need to pull the crown out further. The lower crown unscrews but requires a single pull to engage the GMT hour and date function. Turning the crown clockwise will advance the GMT hand in 1 hour increments. Turning the crown anticlockwise will advance the date. Another pull on the crown will engage the normal hour and minute hands. The second pull on the crown will also stop the second hand from moving. These instructions are on the included CD which also carries the following warning: It is recommended not to change the date between 10 PM and 2 AM. During that period the pinions are being repositioned to carry out the automatic date change, any interference might damage the movement.
There is actually an error on the CD instructions for the upper crown. It shows position P2 (unscrewed condition) as being used to wind the watch. This is not correct. The upper crown is solely for rotating the 24 hour chapter ring. It is position P2 on the lower crown which winds the watch.
Because of the rotating 24 hour chapter ring it is possible to set 3 timezones with the GMT SUB 750T. The first timezone is set using the normal hour hands. The second timezone is set using the minute hand and the skeleton GMT hour hand referenced against the 24 hour numbering on the dial and the 3rd timezone is set using the skeleton GMT hand and the rotating GMT chapter ring. This works perfectly for timezones which are different by hour increments. However, I'm not sure if a timezone which is off by 30 minutes can be accommodated. For example, St John's, Newfoundland is 1 hour and 30 minutes ahead of New York. I haven't figured out how to set that as a timezone. The use of a second crown which only rotates the GMT chapter ring actually raises an interesting question. Could Doxa have used the ETA 2893-2 movement with the standard SUB 750T case and crown arrangement and produced a GMT SUB which only had a dual timezone capability? My guess is they could, but, by making the watch with 2 crowns and 3 timezones, Doxa silenced the people who said that Doxa always just made the same watch except they changed the dial colour.
OK this is where I really do have to own up and show my ignorance. The 24 hour clock confuses the heck outta me. I actually missed a flight once because I was convinced that 16:00 hours was 6 PMíŽDOH!!!! When I got the GMT I initially set it up for Chicago time on the main hands and London time, which is 6 hours in advance, on the GMT hand. I ignored the GMT chapter ring as I wasn't interested in a 3rd timezone. However, the way I set it up was using a 12 hour clock dial. I set the local time to 2 o'clock PM and the GMT hand to 8 o'clock PM on the normal 12 hours face. It was easy to work out the different times because the GMT hand was diagonally opposite the hour hand. After a couple more hours I noticed that the GMT hand was lagging behind its original diagonal position. It seemed to be falling behind. That's when I realized that the GMT hand is actually working on a 24 hour dial and correlates with the 24 hour numbers on the main dial. This means that it moves half the distance of the main hour hand. I.E. If the main hour hand moves one hour, the GMT hand will move 30 minutes. So as it happens, in order to set the main time at 2 PM in the afternoon and the GMT hand to 8 PM in the evening you have to set the main hands to 2 PM and the GMT hand to 20:00 which is actually 10 PM on the main dial. Confusing? For most people probably not but for me it took a bit of getting used to. Aligning the rotating GMT chapter ring with the 24 hours numbers on the main dial was a good way of reinforcing the time difference as it also showed the "in between" hours like 15:00, 17:00 etc. Using the example above I can set the main time at 2 PM for Chicago, the skeleton GMT hand at 20:00 for London and then rotate the GMT bezel to position 21:00 against the skeleton hand and I have the time in Switzerland. It actually works veery well and is an elegant solution for keeping track of the time in 3 different areas of the world.
One other thing that took a bit of getting used to was the lack of exact minute markers on the dial. I don't know the reason for it, but the graduations between each hour marker are not set to correspond to five minutes. Between each white hour marker there are 3 graduations instead of 4. The graduations are at 2, 2.5 and 3 minutes. Telling someone that the time is exactly 4:21 takes a few seconds to work out but in fact the edges of the white hour markers roughly correspond to the 1 and 4 minute marks and once you become accustomed to that then it becomes much easier to tell the time.
Like previous Doxa SUBs, the GMT glows very brightly once the Superluminova has been charged. Because the GMT hand is a skeleton hand there is no luminous material on it so it can't be seen in the dark. In the above image the GMT is compared with the standard 750T. Both watches were charged for 30 seconds and exposed to the camera. The GMT is on the left. The fact that the GMT hand has no luminous material is really of no consequence because, for example, in my case I know the GMT hand will be set 6 hours in advance of the main hour hand, so if I wake and see that it is 3 AM I know it is 9 AM in England. Doxa have confirmed that the new luminous material is double applied and coated with a special substance that protects the Superluminova from breaking or cracking for years.
So now I'm hooked. In the past when I traveled on short trips I would always leave my "good" watches at home and take my Casio because it has a dual timezone and an alarm. From here on it will be the Doxa GMT SUB 750T. I have the timezone capability and the knowledge that I have a classy and relatively unique watch on my wrist. Once again Doxa have produced a better product than the last one. They have made slight improvements on an already outstanding timepiece and added another choice to their range, yet they have made a watch that although different to the classic SUB is still instantly recognisable as a Doxa SUB. Just look at the photo above. The T-Graph, The GMT and the SUB 750T; this is a diverse and classy line up by anyones standard.
OK so here's what you need to do. Buy a GMT SUB 750T Caribbean and get hold of a copy of the song Caribbean Queen. I promise, you will be humming the tune and wearing the watch for days. They are both that addictive.