A question we touch upon often in this series of articles is a simple one: Which watches are truly icons? In the world of vintage-inspired and historically re-created watches, it’s without a doubt to a manufacturer’s advantage to produce a watch with an “iconic” heritage. For this reason, many brands are quick to describe new creations as “an icon revived,” “a legend reborn,“ or with some other hyperbolic phrase. Depending on the watch, sometimes these labels are both earned and legitimate, but in other cases, it’s often a loose marketing stunt to garner attention to an otherwise uninspiring piece. The watch we’re covering this week — the Doxa SUB 300 — is most definitely in the former rather than the latter category.
The Doxa SUB 300 (Non-T) was first produced in 1967, with its very similar, but more famous, successor, the 300T (pictured above), debuting one year later. The watch, which entered the market on the coattails of predecessors like the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms and Rolex Submariner, immediately set out to fill a demand in the market for a casual and reliable diving watch for the growing masses of casual and professional divers. It was a watch as unique as the time period, with a bold and highly visible orange dial, a tonneau-shaped (“tortoise shell”) case, and a unique, outer unidirectional bezel that incorporated the U.S. Navy No Decompression (or Non-Deco) chart in orange and black to help divers better gauge the amount of air left in their tanks. It was somewhat of an anomaly in the market at the time, but Doxa’s risk-taking paid off: the watch attained enduring popularity in the diving realm. Today, while the watch might not draw the same attention from non-watch aficionados as do the most famous Rolex and Omegas divers, it nonetheless holds an important place in diving history, and deserves recognition for its 50th anniversary model.
That model, the SUB 300 Professional, is part of a larger 50th anniversary collection — which includes watches nicknamed Sharkhunter and Searambler — and is a direct re-creation of the original piece. With its solid tonneau-shaped case (42.5 mm in diameter and 13.4-mm thick), the U.S. Navy Non-Deco bezel, and large crown, the new model channels the proportions of the original. Beneath the domed sapphire crystal is the instantly recognizable bright orange dial. Here you’ll find the thick, luminescent hour markers, the non-symmetrical placement of the corporate logo and other information, and a simple date window at the 3 o’clock position. Powering the enlarged block minute hand, shrunken hour hand, and square-tipped seconds counter is the automatic ETA 2824-2, a workhorse movement seen in many other modern sports watches. I very much appreciate how DOXA has not renamed the ETA movement used in this model, opting to tell the consumer plainly from whence the movement originates rather than hiding this info behind a manufacturer’s pseudonym.
Finally, note the rice-bead bracelet. This metal bracelet is a hallmark of the Doxa brand, with its modern iteration featuring a slight taper from 22 mm to 20 mm at the clasp, where you’ll also find an integrated wetsuit extension. While the watch, which is limited to 300 pieces, is still on pre-order, it is priced at $1,990. After its release—which should come any day now—it will be priced at $2,590.
Compared to the original 1967 model, there are not many differences to note. In its proportions, colors, functions, and overall design, the modern piece pays a clear homage to the original. While some slight changes were made in the quality of manufacturing and finishing, along with an updated movement and bracelet, Doxa obviously set out to develop a faithful re-edition and it has successfully stuck to that plan.
Personally, I have never been a huge fan of dive watches. I am not a diver, nor even would I be considered a “desk diver,” and so I have always found more daily usefulness from GMTs, chronographs, and alarm watches. Still, as a vintage watch lover at heart, I respect the Doxa SUB 300 Professional for what it is— a well-done homage, at a very reasonable price, and with a very interesting history. For these reasons, this watch may likely end up as one of the more important releases of 2017, and in an ever-growing market of historically-inspired pieces, that is quite an achievement.
For our most recent article, in which I look at the historical inspiration behind the Jaeger-LeCoultre Grande Reverso Ultra Thin Tribute to 1931, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first learning about horology, he has garnered extensive knowledge in the field, and spends much of his time sharing his opinions among other writers, collectors, and dealers. Currently located near New York City, he is a persistent student in all things historical, a writer on many topics, and a casual runner.