SUB 300 SEARAMBLER - 50 YEAR ANNIVERSARY
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - October 2016
50 years ago DOXA introduced a dive watch which was destined to become one of the most recognizable and iconic timepieces ever made. In 50 years a lot has changed and in many ways the world is unrecognizable from what it was then, There was no internet, man hadn't walked on the moon and a computer that you now strap on your wrist and just happens to tell the time was the stuff of science fiction. Yes a lot has changed in that time, but one thing has pretty much stayed the same.... the DOXA SUB dive watch. Just to prove that point DOXA is releasing the SUB 300 - 50 Year Anniversary model and it is pretty much indistinguishable from the SUB 300 which started it all.
First off let me say that this is a prototype watch. It should be how the final release version looks, except for lettering on the caseback and the bracelet. More on that later. DOXA shipped it to me in a really nice "leather" presentation case rather than the Aluminium tube which has been used for the modern SUBs.
I don't know if the release version of the watch will come in the tube or the case. I really hope it is the case. It looks classy. The orange inner surround is a very nice touch and it is a very nice nod back to the blue box that the original SUBs were shipped in.
And so, on to the watch itself. The case shape and dimensions are almost the same as they were in 1967. The vintage model measuring 45mm in length, 45mm wide including the crown, 20mm lug width and 10mm high from caseback to top of bezel. The domed perspex crystal took the height to 12mm. It had a 60 click bezel and a caseback with the DOXA logo on it.
The modern version is the same length and width. Due to a deeper caseback the height to bezel is now 11mm and because of the sapphire domed crystal the overall height is now 14mm. The bezel is now 120 click and has the Imperial Dive Table numbers as opposed to the modern Metric units but the caseback has retained the original DOXA ship rather than the modern Jenny logo.
There is one other visible difference with the 50th Anniversary SUB which is common across the 3 versions: Professional, Sharkhunter and Searambler, and that is the use of a sweep hand which has luminous material on it. The vintage SUBs used Tritium for luminosity. That has long been banned on watches unless encased in vials like those on the SUB 800Ti. However, the vintage SUB 300 sweep hand did not have any Tritium on it.
Modern watches use Superluminova and for the 50th Anniversary watch, DOXA decided to use it on the sweep hand. Some purists have said they would have preferred no lume and DOXA were undecided up to the very last minute but ultimately the tradition started with the vintage SUB 300T won out.
One nod to tradition that DOXA did retain is the small bead of luminous material to the left of the date window.
The crown also retains the original DOXA lettering from the vintage SUB 300.
Like the vintage SUB 300, the dial diameter is 23mm and not the 24mm which came about with the larger SUB 300T.
At this stage a number of readers will be wondering if any of the Anniversary SUB parts are interchangeable with the vintage watch. Unfortunately the answer is pretty much no. As mentioned, the bezel has gone from 60 to 120 clicks. The caseback has a different thread diameter as does the crown. The dial holding ring is wider and the seal between body and caseback is smaller. It is possible that the dial feet on the new dial are correct for the vintage movement but I didn't remove the hands and dial to find out. I don't know what the barrel diameters are for the vintage and modern movements, but I expect they would be similar and if so then the hands would be interchangeable.
The original SUB 300 utilized a ricebead bracelet which incorporated both expandable links and a rachet mechanism to accommodate the thickness of a wetsuit and how it compressed on deeper dives. For the modern SUBs, DOXA have used different bracelets which have incorporated a racheting clasp and ricebead style. Recently they came up with a bracelet which paid homage to the original one with individual beads. They have used that design but in keeping with the vintage SUB 300, they tapered the last few links to meet up with the edges of the case. (NOTE: this watch is a prototype and the bracelet used does not have the tapered links).
OK so that's the physical / mechanical stuff about the 50th Anniversary SUB 300. I could be talking about a washing machine. Most people don't care about RPM, BPM, hedgehogs per field etc. They just want pictures. Well enough of the blah, blah, blah. Here are the pictures. The next photos really don't need any description, they illustrate just what a beautiful watch the SUB 300 Searambler is. In my opinion DOXA knocked this one right out of the park. It is absolutely gorgeous and the photos do not do it justice. I have been wearing it into work for about a week and I can't stop looking at it. People notice it, people ask about it and want to try it on. It is a gobsmacker!!!!!
For those wondering. The vintage SUB 300T on the left started out life as a Searambler but the watch was in a pretty bad state when I got it. I refurbished it and had the dial redone to Professional orange but I never painted the hands. I just liked the orange minute and sweep hands combination.
This is the 2nd generation SUB 300T and it shows a marked difference to the case size of the original SUB 300. The bezel was deeper, the crystal was flat and the depth of the chapter ring (in this case it is the rarer red one) was greater and there was more lume on the minute hand.
This shot really shows how high the sapphire crystal sits up and although it is classed as domed it really is flat once you get away from the edges.
The other watch in this shot is a modified Seiko Orange Monster.
Here we have the SUB 300 with one of the original Breitling Superoceans. You could almost call it a case of modern vintage meets vintage modern.......
So what's it like to wear. Well, I think it is obvious that compared to the SUB 750T the dial is noticeably smaller. Compared to the 1200T not so much and when you are wearing it, it doesn't feel smaller even though the edge of the domed sapphire crystal does "cut into" the diameter of the dial. In the case of the Searambler I think that due to just how stunning the silver dial and contrast of the red minute hand is, your eyes just don't notice that the dial is smaller. This watch is incredibly easy to read the time on and the photos do not do justice to how the light catches the dial and radiates out on it.
Because of the relatively smaller size and weight of the 50th Anniversary SUB 300, I believe that DOXA have hit the sweet spot for both men and women. It's not too small for a man and not too big for a woman. My wife wears my SUB 600 Professional and Divingstar, in fact they really are her watches now. She says this one is far more comfortable. What does that tell you about my chances of ever getting to wear a 50th Anniversary SUB 300 :-)
I guess I could finish this review by pulling an Apple and say what they say every time they release a new iPhone..."this is the best iPhone Apple have ever made" but I'm not going to say "this is the best SUB that DOXA have ever made. I'll let you guys make that call. Best is a very subjective word. What I will say is that it won't suit everyone. What was a big watch 50 years ago isn't big by modern standards and a lot of people like big watches. They will probably dismiss the SUB 300, sight unseen. I think that would be a mistake. What DOXA have done with the 50th Anniversary SUB 300 is create a faithful doppleganger of a vintage classic. It is constructed from modern materials and uses a modern movement, but it is undoubtedly a watch that captures the true essence of what has been a spectacular 50 year journey. If you are a dive watch collector, your collection will never be complete without one. I coined the phrase some time ago: "it's not just another dive watch, it's a DOXA". Never has that expression been more true than with the SUB 300. This is not only a watch you want to own, this is a watch you need to own!