Stan Betesh’s company, Deep Blue, specializes in watches for exploring under water, but the vast expanse he really swims in is the digital ocean. “This is a brand that was brought up with the Internet,” he says.
Betesh had always been a watch lover, but he first became active in the watch business about a decade ago. Like many other collectors, he wanted to change out straps on his Panerai, but he couldn’t find affordable ones anywhere. “I started looking online, and said, ‘Something’s wrong over here.’ You shouldn’t have to pay $300 for a strap.” In order to fulfill the need that he saw in himself and other watch fans, he started Panitime.com, an online watchstrap designer and retailer. Betesh knew his audience, and in a short time his site became the biggest watch-strap retailer on the Internet.
Betesh followed online discussion forums like watchfreeks.com and watchuseek.com, developing a sense for what guys like him wanted in their watches. Launching Deep Blue in 2007, Betesh’s aim was to take all the things that collectors love in a dive watch, but to make them better. He saw a way to make high-performance watches at a greater value. “Everything is based on the classic dive watch looks, the classic feel, the weight,” he says. Betesh claims his customers are exceedingly loyal, and many of them own several Deep Blue watches. Because his watches are affordably priced – many non-chronograph automatic models are priced below $1,000, with some available for as little as $499 – dive-watch lovers can afford more than one. The watches’ most distinctive feature is their abundant tritium-gas tubes, in a rainbow of colors, which provide both long-lasting and interesting nighttime visual effects. Sometimes the tubes are used in combination with Super-LumiNova-coated dials. The movements, all mechanical except for those in the women’s collection, are Swiss or Japanese.
One of the most popular models, introduced in 2013, is the Daynight 63 T-100, named for its 63 orange and blue tubes of tritium gas. The watch is powered by an ETA 2824 automatic movement. It has an exhibition caseback and a 47-mm stainless-steel case. The Alpha Marine 500 T-100, also containing an ETA 2824 caliber, has tritium tubes arranged to form the numerals 12, 3, 6 and 9. It also has a fully luminous dial, coated in Super-LumiNova. Each of these watches is priced at $1,100.
Deep Blue has also launched a chronograph. The Daynight 65 T-100 has a 47-mm case in stainless steel. The crown, chrono pushers and caseback all screw down. It features day and date windows at 3 o’clock, with a 12-hour counter at 6 o’clock and a 30-minute counter at 12; running seconds are in the subdial at 9 o’clock. It has 65 tritium tubes to illuminate its minutes markers and its subdial hands. As with the other two watches, the Daynight 65 T-100 has a unidirectional rotating bezel, a divers’ safety clasp and wetsuit extension for the bracelet, and is water resistant to 500 meters. It is powered by an ETA 7750 movement and costs $1,700.
This article first appeared in the June 2013, issue of WatchTime Magazine.