IRISHSTAR

© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - June 2022


 

I can't remember the exact date I came up with the idea of the DOXA Irishstar. I do remember talking to Rick Marei about a green dial SUB probably in 2004. Greg Bottle who did the fantastic layout of the 40th Anniversary book did this drawing for me in 2005 and I then used it to have a dial made up in 2006 which I fitted into a SUB 300T Reissue.

 

Here's the thing about the DOXA Irishstar. It is and isn't a DOXA. In the image above, the Irishstar is almost 100% a DOXA. Everything was made by DOXA except the paint on the dial. The Dial is an original DOXA dial which I had repainted. I had hoped that DOXA would make a green dial SUB but sadly it never happened. Not sure why, because as of mid 2022, they have made dials of just about every other colour except green.

So why green? Well, the fact I'm Irish is a bit of a giveaway, but there is actually a sound diving reason for it. DOXA are famous for their orange dial. Supposedly it is the best color for color retention at depth. Well, not really. In fact green is better. This image from ScubaDiveLife tells the real story. As you can see, as we descend, we lose the colors of the spectrum as they are absorbed by the water. Orange is gone even before we pass 30 feet (10 Meters). And if you really want to be pedantic about it, color is inconsequential, it is about contrast. Black dial and large white hands win every time.

But at around 20 feet down it looks great. So between the jigs and the reels (now there is an old Irish saying for you), I thought a green dial SUB had merit and if you are going green, throw on a Shamrock because everyone loves a dial with a logo on it.

The Irishstar dial was good but there was one thing that bugged me about it. The shamrock, well, the four leaf clover to be more accurate. What's the difference between a shamrock and a clover? Not a great deal, in fact the term shamrock comes from the Irish word seamrog or seamair og, which translates as "little clover" and there are many kinds of clovers and even plants that look like clover. Even among the Irish, there is no consensus as to which plant is the "true" Irish shamrock. However, it is the three leaves that are important. The number three is significant to the Irish because it refers to the Holy Trinity. Irish legend has it that the missionary, Saint Patrick, demonstrated the principle behind the Trinity using a shamrock. Three leaves united on a common stalk. So even though the four leaf clover can be considered lucky, it is not a shamrock to me.

But that didn't stop me trying to find the right case for it. The 300T Reissue was always a watch that I liked but just couldn't wear because it was just too big for my skinny wrist. I sold it. By this time the 1200T had arrived on the scene so I tried the Irishstar dial in a 1200T case. Looked great. But that case belonged to my Diving With Legends (DWL) 1200T so it didn't last long there.

I considered finding a vintage SUB 300T case for the dial but the problem is the dial which was a Marei Era 600T dial has the dial feet set for a modern ETA 2824 movement. The movements used in the vintage SUBs, although they are ETA movements, use dials with different dial feet positions. Modern dials are not usable in vintage movements and vice versa. I could have removed the feet and used dial dots to stick it to a vintage movement or used stick on dial feet in the correct position but it just seemed like too much hassle. The Irishstar dial was consigned to a small plastic box and put into my watch bits drawer. Over the years several people had asked me about selling the dial. I never considered it, but then I did and so off it went to a new home. I was no longer the DOXA Irishstar guy.

 

And I stayed that way until late 2020 when I was contacted about some high resolution images by a chap who was making some SUB redials. I'd seen his work and the quality was great. So let's pause for a minute and talk about redials. The idea of them can be quite polarizing. Personally, I have no problem with them. The image above shows both of my vintage SUBs, both are redials. Now, some people will say I should have kept them original and while I do subscribe to that view. The next image shows the condition I got the SUB 300 in. Some people may have thought keeping it original was an option, for me, it wasn't. So I had it redialed.

 

There is a chapter devoted to the restoration of the watch in my DOXA 50th Anniversary book. Shameless plug: The DOXA Book. The problem I do have with redials, is people who pass them off as original. The chap who was doing the redials who contacted me was also against that so he engraved the back of his dials so people would know they weren't original.

 

I sent over high resloution images and he responded that he knew my first Irishstar dial was not exactly what I wanted and he would do one for me for free. I was very pleased that he would do that for me so I sent him a copy of my Aquastar book: A Dive Into Time, as a riciprocal gesture. Another shameless plug: A Dive Into Time. Several months later the dial arrived.

 

The DWL case was back where it belonged with the DWL dial, but by this time I had a donor case. It was a prototype for the SUB 1200T. The bezel color was something a bit different as was the dial. I've only ever shown the dial to a few people. It's something that would raise a few DOXA fans eyebrows. The Irishstar looked great but there was just one thing missing.... it needed some orange and white to be truly an Irishstar.

 

Here's a little bit of Irish history. The Irish flag was presented as a gift in 1848 to Thomas Francis Meagher from a small group of French women sympathetic to the Irish cause. It was intended to symbolise the inclusion and hoped-for union between Roman Catholics (symbolised by the green colour) and Protestants (symbolised by the orange colour). The significance of the colours outlined by Meagher was, "The white in the centre signifies a lasting truce between Orange and Green and I trust that beneath its folds the hands of Irish Protestants and Irish Catholics may be clasped in generous and heroic brotherhood".

 

I sourced the hands and installed them. Ding, ding, jackpot, three cherries! At this stage many would consider the Irishstar story was complete, but not so fast. As Steve Jobs used to say: "one more thing".

 

Marinez, who had been making DOXA SUB homages for a couple of years approached me and asked if I would mind if they made an Irishstar version of their Titanium Samui. As it was an absolute certainly DOXA would never make one and there were people who wanted one, I was happy that they would even consider making them. They made them, I bought one.

 

I've never been a fan of Titanuim watches, purely based on my experience with a Casio I used to own. I may have misjudged them.

 

Titanium is lighter than steel and even though the Samui case and SUB 1200T cases are different, they are close enough to compare. The Samui case is based on the last of the Synchron era SUBs and was the thickest of the 300T models. Sized for a 6.75 inch wrist, the DOXA Irishstar weighs 167 grams, the Maranez Irishstar weighs 118 grams.

 

Wearing the Titanium Irishstar was a completely different experience to that of the Casio. I also wasn't a great fan of the Synchron case, although Synchron did a great job using it when they made the Synchron Military. I tend to wear my watches loose and the Synchron SUBs I owned just moved around too much for me. I ended up selling all of them as I consider the SUB 300 and first generation SUB 300T the best wearing of all the DOXA SUBs. The Titanium Samui was a revelation. At times I forgot it was even there. The Titanium Samui made me realise I had been a complete idiot because my jaundiced view of Titanium watches meant I never even considered buying two of the Marie era classic watches: the SUB 800Ti and the Mission 31, both based on the larger 750T case and both made from Titanium. Damn.............

 

I've reviewed the steel versions of the Maranez Samui here and Vintage Samui here. They are well made watches and definitely scratch aa DOXA vibe itch for those who either can't afford or don't want to pay the price of a DOXA or want to see what the DOXA "thing" is before plumping down the cash for a classic DOXA SUB.

 

The Titanium Irishstar continues their great bang for the buck tradition.

 

The dial and hands are glossy which is a nice touch and are paired with a reliable Seiko NH35 movement.

 

There really isn't anything to fault with the Maranez Irishstar. My images don't capture the gray color of the titanium compared to the steel case of the DOXA. It may just be my imagination but I think in the time I have owned it, the color has become more grey. If so,then maybe it is a function of the Titanium oxidising more. I like it. The watch looks and feels different to the steel watches I have. Man, I so wish I had bought a Mission 31.

 

So, I guess that just about wraps it up for the Irishstar...erm, well, ah..... nope! I think the DOXA SUB 300 is a tremendous watch. I have one complaint. The Top Hat crystal. The way the parallax effect of the outside of the crystal shrinks the dial just bugs me. The Maranez Vintage Samui does a better job in my opinion with their version of the case and crystal. It doesn't shrink the dial quite as much. You can see better pictures in the review I linked to above.

 

That got me thinking. The prototype DOXA case I had the Irishstar in had a weird bezel color and I really wanted to put the unique dial back into it and save the watch so I decided to do a transplant into the red Vintage Samui case. Of course that case wasn't designed for an ETA movement, rather the Seiko NH35, but after a bit of modification of spacer rings, I was able to get it to fit perfectly. Swapping out the winding stem for an ETA version and it was done. The Irishstar was in a case I liked and ready to wear.

 

Is it the end of the story? Who knows? If I was able to pick up a cheap ICE era SUB 300T case then I think it would be perfect, but until then, what I do know is that Saint Patrick's Day 2023 is going to see a whole lot more Irishstars out and about.

 

 


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Dr. Peter McClean Millar