DOXA ORANGE DIAL SUB 600T
© Dr. Peter McClean Millar - December 2003
"Is more than one orange dialed watch too much"? That was the question I was asked quite recently. My answer was simple; "Not if they are Doxas it isn't". In late November 2003 Doxa released a new generation of orange dialed SUB watches. The SUB 600T. Both the reissue SUB 300T Professional and Seahunter were sold out and it was unthinkable that the company which quite literally invented the genre hadn't an orange watch for sale. Like the SUB 300T before it, the 600T is in honour of Dr. Clive Cussler whose fictional hero, Dirk Pitt, wore an Orange Dial Doxa in 17 novels. Rather than just increase the depth rating on the reissue 300T, Doxa sat down and redesigned the case and bracelet. They listened to their customer feedback and came up with a watch and bracelet that was almost a mirror image of the original SUB 300T Professional from thirty years ago. It looks like the original yet is different to the reissue, but is it just another orange dial Doxa or has it something more to add to the lineage?
As I want this review to stand on its own, I hope the reader will forgive me for going over material I have already covered in my original review of the SUB 300T Professional and the comparison review of the old and new SUB 300T.
It was in 1967 that Doxa teamed up with the U.S. Divers company and the Doxa SUB as we know it today was born. It was a unique design that was destined to become a classic. The orange dial and non decompression dive table bezel were innovations that although copied have never been bettered. For the reissue SUB 300T, Doxa chose a dial colour which was the same as an aged vintage SUB. For the new SUB 600T the orange dial has the same colour code as the original sixties dial. The first thing that strikes you when you open the box is that the 600T is somewhat brighter and more vibrant than the SUB 300T reissue. This is in part, because of the colour of the dial and the fact that the luminous mass of the markers and hands of the new SUB 600T are the same as those of an aged vintage SUB. Also the 3mm thick sapphire crystal on the 600T is slightly domed and enhances the appearance of the dial and overall the whole watch is more polished. One small change on the 600T that few people would immediately notice is that the small writing around the 6 o'clock position on the dial has changed from T Swiss Made T to just Swiss Made. Originally the SUB models were 300, 600 etc without the T. When Doxa started using Tritium as the luminous material on the hands and dial they revised the name to 300T, 600T etc. Recent US and EC regulations will put a ban on importing watches with Tritium coating in the near future, so the latest SUBs use Super Luminova. The T in 600T now stands for Taucher which is the German word for Diver.
The crystal is anti-reflective, quad coated and scratch-resistant. It can be seen from the photo that it is domed and actually sits proud of the bezel. This is in contrast to the 300T reissue which has a flat sapphire crystal and sits slightly below the level of the bezel. This doming will make the crystal more prone to scratching. However, it must be remembered that the crystal is sapphire and therefore fairly difficult to scratch. I would have preferred the crystal to be flat, but that is just a personal opinion and many people would disagree with me. On a side note. The shape of the crystal is similar to that on the Seiko SKX781 Orange Monster. Since my comparison review of it with the SUB 300T Professional reissue, Seiko have revised the design of the watch to incorporate a flat crystal because of customer concerns of easy scratching.
For the 600T, Doxa have used the same hands as the original 300T. These are exact replicas of those on the old SUB but for anyone wanting to replace the hands on their old SUBS, be warned, they will not fit. As can be seen from the comparison photo, the minute hand on the 600T is smaller and there is much less luminous material on the hands overall than the 300T reissue. These type of hands can be found on many dive watches. The hour hand is made deliberately smaller than the minute hands because a diver is more interested in the minutes he has been down or bottom time left, and a relatively large hour hand may cause confusion. Note that the hands on my original 300T are white because they are the hands for the black dial Sharkhunter. These are exactly the same as the orange Professional hands except the black areas are white to provide better contrast.
One of the major differences between the 300T reissue and the 600T which people may at first not notice is the bezel. Doxa reverted to the original design by using depth indications which are in Feet and not Meters. There are 2 major diving institutes in the world; SSI and PADI, their courses adhere to the metric system. This was the reason for DOXA to choose the metric bezels for the first reissue models, but after they received lots of inquiries regarding a SUB 300T bezel with Feet graduations, they decided that the new SUB 600T bezels would be available in Feet, as they were on the original watch. The 600T bezel retains the same sold feel of the 300T reissue. It rotates with a nice loud click and tight ratchet movement. However, it is more difficult to turn than the 300T reissue. It has 60 clicks per full rotation, which is the same as the original 300T, whereas the 300T reissue has 120 clicks per full bezel rotation. One other difference is that the SUB 600T bezel is hardened and coated to better protect it against scratching. This does not mean it is scratch proof, just harder to scratch.
Probably the most controversial thing about the reissue SUB 300T family was the bracelet design. People were polarized over it; they either loved it or loathed it. A major difficulty with it was that because of the radical design of the case lugs, it was virtually impossible to get alternative bracelets for the watch (see my reviews of the Seiko bracelet and rubber strap modifications, for alternatives). Doxa took the criticism to heart and set about redesigning the bracelet for the 600T along the lines of the old "rice bead" bracelet. The new bracelet has all the charm, functionality and style of the old bracelet without any of the weaknesses.
Gone is the thin expanding divers extension, replaced by the superbly designed and much more substantial clasp as used on the reissue 300T bracelet. In this the divers expansion is hidden in the clasp and is quick and easy to operate. One nice touch with the bracelet is that the polished center bead section continues up into the end pieces. In early production photos I thought that it would be better to keep the end pieces matt, in keeping with the outside of the bracelet and the matt finish of the case. However, once you have the actual watch in your hands it is a different story. There is something about the center of the end pieces being polished and the flow of continuity from the bezel into the bracelet that just gives the overall appearance that little extra touch of class.
The original bracelet had individual beads which were folded. The new bracelet although looking exactly like the old one is a new design without individual beads but with solid polished pieces instead. Gone also are the traditional split pins for holding the links together. Doxa have used the pin and collar type of pins seen on the Seiko SKX781 Orange Monster bracelet. Although I found it fairly easy to resize the Seiko bracelet with these type of pins. The 600T was a diferenet matter. The pins and drilled holes are much thinner and I had nothing which would fit in the holes. Eventually, in frustration I almost gave up and went to a jeweler, but in the end I managed it. If you do attempt to resize the 600T bracelet yourself, be careful so as not to lose the little collars. They are very small. There are 6 removable links on the bracelet which means that it can be resized quite small. A bonus for women who want to wear a 600T. The bracelet on the SUB 300T reissue was a big, substantial piece of engineering which matched the heavy tool watch case design. The 600T is more a piece of "wrist jewelry" and is a perfect match for the 600T. It looks more refined and is more "subtle". Taking everything into account, the fit and finish and operation of the bracelet is superb. It really is quite a work of art and I can see many being bought to replace the bracelets on old SUBs which have long since fallen apart.
Just out of interest I swapped out the rice bead bracelet for a Solid End Link oyster style bracelet. The matt finish goes very well with the case and does lessen the overall glittery appearance of the watch. It's not a bad alternative.
The movement in the SUB 600T is the same as used in the reissue SUB 300T. More information on it can be found here. It is the 25 Jewel ETA 2824-2 which is a hacking, self-winding mechanical movement with 28,800 bph and 42 hours of power reserve and incorporates an Incabloc Anti-Shock protection system. It has been modified and decorated by DOXA. The date is quickset and hence easy to adjust. The movement has proven to be robust, reliable and in my experience keeps great time at around 5 seconds a day under constant use. It is a continuation of the 17 Jewel ETA 2852 line used in the old 300T.
The winding crown has a raised Doxa fish logo. This logo is also on the caseback and was introduced on the 300T reissue. The logo is actually the logo of the Jenny family who are one of the oldest traditional Swiss Watch maker families in Switzerland. They are now the owner of the trademarks DOXA and Jenny Caribbean and are widely recognised for inventing and patenting the first 1000 meter water resistant wrist watch using the legendary monocoque case. As can be seen in the above photo of a prototype SUB 300T reissue case, Doxa did consider using a winding crown with the word Doxa on it. However, this was discarded in favour of the more stylized fish logo. In operation the crown is a screwed design which takes just over 1 and a 1/2 complete turns to unscrew it. The threads engage easily and screwing and unscrewing is very smooth. One of the reasons for this is that the SUB 600T crown and threaded tube have been specially heat treated and hardened to help prevent cross threading. The winding crown is a different design to the one on the 300T reissue and here I think Doxa should have stayed with the newer design. The edge of the crown is quite sharp and would be uncomfortable if the watch was hand wound. The 300T reissue is rounded and in my opinion has a better feel. I tend to wear my watches loose and I have found that crowns with the same sharp edges as the 600T tend to dig into the back of my wrist more than that on the 300T reissue.
The history of the SUB range shows that a number of different logos were used on the casebacks. The Synchron 'triangle', the Doxa sailing ship and the fish logo. The casebacks were normally devoid of anything other than the logo and a serial number. With the reissue SUB 300T, Doxa started to add more information. The Seahunter was the most verbose and showed the logo, Seahunter name, the serial number, the words DOXA SUB 300T, Limited Edition and the issue number out of 1000. The SUB 600T follows in this tradition with the wording; "Clive Cussler Edition xxx/3000. 600 meters-1968 feet. Swiss made since 1889". One nice touch is that the fish logo on the caseback is actually engraved onto a medal and inserted into the caseback, in the same way as on the Coppa Milano Sanremo. The lettering on the caseback of the 600T is around the edge of the logo and not further out on the caseback as on the 300T reissue. Another difference is that the lettering on the caseback of the 300T reissue is etched whereas that on the 600T is forged into the metal.
The design feature that made the reissue SUB 300T unique was also its most contentious aspect. Undoubtedly it was the case design which created the greatest customer feedback. At 59 mm in length it is one of the biggest cases made for a dive watch. The unique curved aspect whilst making for a very comfortable fit on larger wrists did dissuade many people with smaller wrists from buying one. The 300T's case is also much thicker than the 600T's so it sits up higher on the wrist.
The 600T is also a bit lighter so its a little more comfortable to wear. The dimensions of the 600T are almost identical to the old 300T. It measures 44.5mm in length, 42.1mm wide and 13mm high. The lug width is 20mm and will allow for easy bracelet interchangeability. However, given the quality of the SUB 600T bracelet, I doubt many people will want to remove it. This size will appeal to people with almost any wrist size and should also be popular with many women, who because of the large size of the 300T reissue felt they missed out on the chance of an orange dial Doxa. When comparing the original 300T to the new SUB 600T, it is noticeable how much thinner the 600T is. It is also thinner than the original 300T. What must be remembered here is that there have been several case desings in the history of the SUB 300 / 300T and although very similar in shape and size they were noticably different. I have taken the following information from the FAQ section of this site. The Doxa SUB 300 (no T) has a screw down crown (slim case and sailing ship on the back). The first Doxa SUB 300Tīs had a screw down crown (the medium thick case and sailing ship on the back). The first Synchron made SUB 300T (thick case and sailing ship on the back) also had the screw down crown. The second generation Synchron made Doxa SUB 300Ts didnīt have the screw down crown (thick case and synchron logo on the back). The third generation Synchron made Doxas had the thickest case and had the screw down crown. Although the case of the 600T is a matt finish, except for the sides which are polished, the matt finish is very fine and almost looks like a light polish. This is in contrast with the 300T reissue and original 300T which are a more "course" matt finish. Another interesting thing to note for people who are looking for a replacemet bezel for their old SUBs is that the bezel size was different on each case and hence bezels are not interchangable. Also the earlier bezels, although having graduations in feet, did not have the letters FT marked on the bezel unlike the bezels on the 600T and my old 300T, which do.
It is difficult to see from my photos but in natural light side by side the dial of the SUB 300T reissue is slightly darker than the 600T. Also the black bars on either side of the hour markers are slightly smaller on the 600T. One consequence of the bezel on the 600T being smaller is that the dial is not recessed as far from the crystal. This decrease of depth is also enhanced by the curvature of the new crystal which slightly magnifies the dial especially when held at an oblique angle.
As mentioned earlier Doxa have gone with Super Luminova as the luminous material for the 600T. In order to compare it with the Tritium on the reissue 300T, I charged both watches under a desk lamp for 30 seconds and set them on my bedside table. Initially the 600T glowed brighter, even with the reduced amount of material on the hour hand. After 3 hours both watches were at about the same intensity and 7 hours later the 300T was glowing the strongest. The intensity on both watches had reduced significantly but they were still easily read. The above photo shows the 300T reissue at the top, the 600T on the right and the Seiko Orange monster on the left. I consider the Seiko SKX781 Orange Monster to be the "gold standard" in luminosity and this photo shows that even with the lessened luminous material on the 600T hands it can still match the Seiko. Note that on the 300T Seahunter the blue sweep hand is not luminous, which explains why it cannot be seen on the above photo.
So what is it like to wear the new 600T? The first thing you notice is that it sits easily on the wrist. It is a much lighter watch than the reissue SUB 300T and the weight is evenly dispersed, mainly due to the way the bracelet maintains its width over the whole length and does not taper like the one on the original SUB 300T. With the same length bracelet the 300T reissue weighs around 170 grams, whereas the 600T weighs about 155 grams. It feels comfortable to wear and quickly becomes part of your arm. I have had a few watches which just never felt great. They didn't seem to sit right or the crown dug into my wrist. This is not the case with the SUB 600T which is very comfortable indeed.
Even for my wife who has a very thin wrist the watch is not too big or heavy. She tends to wear her Orange Zeno loose and she says that the 600T feels much better.
Doxa have used the same packaging with the 600T as they did with the reissue 300T, namely the brushed anodized Aluminium tube and foam insert. This time, instead of screwdrivers, they have included a high quality Bergeon bracelet removal tool. The packaging also includes a plastic credit card style guarantee and a printed piece of paper with operating instructions. Unlike the reissue SUB 300T Seahunter which was also a Clive Cussler edition and came with a very nice signed certificate, the 600T has no certificate at all and other than the lettering on the caseback there is no other indication that the watch has anything to do with Cussler. For most people this is no big deal. Other than a few buyers who framed the 300T Cussler certificate, most people will just leave the paperwork rolled up with the packaging and probably never look at it again.
One thing worth mentioning about the SUB 600T in particular and the orange dial Doxas in general is that they are all Dirk Pitt's watches. Clive Cussler always wrote something like 'While the connection went through, he (Dirk Pitt) checked his orange faced Doxa dive watch. The dial read two minutes past ten.' (Valhalla Rising - page 182). Cussler never specified which orange dial Doxa Pitt was wearing. It was generally assumed that because Cussler wore a SUB 300T himself, Pitt did likewise, but this was never the case. Pitt probably has a collection of Doxas which equals his car collection so both the 300T and 600T can legitimately be claimed to be Dirk Pitt's watch. Clive Cussler has in fact stated that in the next Dirk Pitt novel, he will indeed be wearing a SUB 600T. Actually I wouldn't be surprised if Pitt ordered some of the first ones for himself and everyone in NUMA. It is interesting to note that in Cussler's latest Dirk Pitt novel, Trojan Odyssey, he does specifically mention the SUB 300T (page 140 - 'He glanced at his SUB 300T orange-faced Doxa dive watch given to him by his father').
If I had to sum up the SUB 600T with one word, it would be QUALITY. Everything about it just oozes quality by the bucket load. From the delicately brushed finish of the case to the highly polished bezel, the watch just says "look at me. I can compete with any high end watch you care to name". Believe me it can. Doxa really have gone out of their way to make this one just that little bit more special and it shows. It may not be perfect, but it is as close as it gets in my book. With a run of 3,000 watches, the orange dial SUB 600T Doxa is limited enough to appeal to the collector but also there are enough of them that everyone has a chance to own another piece of dive watch history. Like the original SUB 300T that it pays homage to, the SUB 600T is destined to become a classic.
Doxa may market the SUB 600T as Dirk Pitt's watch. Well, that may indeed be the case, but let me just say that if he wants this one back he better bring Al Gordino with him and be prepared to fight, because this one is mine and he's not getting it back!