In 2017, the storied Swiss dive watch brand Doxa shocked the market by selling 300 of its SUB 300 Professional “Black Lung” watches only hours after their release. The new watch was a re-issue of a vintage model known as one of today’s most famed and collectible dive watches, the SUB 300 Professional “Aqua Lung.” This original “Black Lung” watch used the “Professional” bright orange dial, which was so named because scientific testing found that color to be more visible than all others tested at 30 meters underwater, and thus the best to be used by professional-level divers rather than hobbyists and more shallow-water divers. It was dubbed the Sub 300 for its 300-meter-plus depth rating, and it eventually gained the “Aqua Lung” moniker for the black Aqua Lung logo on its bottom corner toward the 7:30 position, with Aqua Lung referring to the diving-equipment company Jacques Cousteau founded in 1943, which is credited for producing the world’s first self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (SCUBA).
Fast-forward to about a year later and Doxa once again releases an Aqua Lung-partnered heritage watch, this time in the form of the Searambler “Silver Lung.” The background of this watch is the same as its Professional forbearer, with the primary difference being its “Searambler” title, which is the brand’s name for a silver dial, thereby distinguishing it as a “Silver Lung” compared to a black one for some reason. Both are based upon the SUB 300 (non-T) Doxa dive watch model released in 1967 — like the Sub 300 Professional we covered last year — both released to celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of Doxa and Aqua Lung, respectively, and both, in their vintage forms, incredibly rare and collectible.
I will note that while I have seen the vintage Professional black-logo “Aqua Lung” model, I have only ever seen silver Aqua Lung logos on vintage Searambler models (like the similar 300T model above, photo courtesy of Analog/Shift), as compared to the black Aqua Lung logos presented on this re-issue. I have seen a stand-alone dial via dealer and collector @nickgogas featuring the black logo and described as a “prototype” (below), with Fratellowatches’ Michael Stockton noting from these dials that the actual black-logo Seamrambler “Aqua Lung” watch is more legendary than rare, if it ever existed in the mass market at all.
Still, we do have the new limited-edition SUB 300 Searambler, which is likely to become a very desirable watch in the years to come. With a 42.5-mm by 12.4-mm tonneau case (that is, “tortoise-shell”-shaped), this steel watch is strict to the proportions of the vintage model it’s based upon and secured to the wrist using a traditional tapered rice-bead bracelet. The unorthodox saw-tooth-edged bezel of the watch uses a double ring unidirectional construction, with its inner ring a classic dive timing meter accented in black, and the outer ring using an unusual U.S. Navy No Decompression (or Non-Deco) chart, designed to assist in avoiding prolonged decompressions for deep dives in an age before remotely accessible computers.
On its categorically atypical, small 25.5-mm silver “Searambler” dial you’ll find some of the trademark aspects of vintage Doxas. Among these are the luminescent-filled square hour markers and their accompanying minute marks, a 3 o’clock date window with an incomplete crosshair to match the other three-quarters of the dial, and, along with the typical logos for Doxa and Searambler, the black Aqua Lung seal towards the 7:30 mark for which the watch is partially named. Indicating the time beneath the double domed sapphire crystal are the 1967-style SUB hour and minute hands, with a matching square-tipped seconds counter. Like many other watches from this brand, the piece is powered by the automatic ETA 2824-2, which hosts a 42-hour power reserve, with the “Doxa” name decorating the rotor protected by the watch’s solid caseback. The “Silver Lung” is currently available for pre-order at $2,190, and due to be marked up at $2,590 during regular sale — if it doesn’t sell out prior to its full release.
While we don’t have an exact predecessor model to which we can compare this newest re-edition, we can compare it to both the vintage SUB 300 Professional “Aqua Lung” and Searambler using the silver logo, which both have the same historical proportions and would, therefore, be similar to a Searambler “Aqua Lung.” Overall, the modern “Silver Lung” is a solid replica of a vintage model in the 1967 SUB 300 series in its sizing, case shape, dial markers, depth rating, etc., with the only differences being in minute modern adjustments. These are seen in the more brightly orange dial accents, the lack of an additional pointer past the square tip on the seconds hand, and, as mentioned, the black and yellow Aqua Lung logo. Finally, as is the case with almost all modern re-issues, the “Silver Lung” has a clear improvement on finishing quality and materials.
Last year Doxa made headlines for selling out of the SUB 300 Professional “Black Lung” (pictured below) in record time. Three hundred of these watches were to be produced, 300 were pre-ordered, and the remaining would-be buyers were left to hunt marked-up resell models a few months after that. The reason for this huge spark of demand on the limited watches has been debated, but at its core, the event spoke to the relative significance and rarity of the vintage model this new watch was commemorating, and by extension the perceived value, now and in the future, for collectors and curators alike. The newer “Silver Lung” has not commanded this same effect, largely due to less familiarity with the vintage model by collectors, but it nonetheless represents a part of the larger Doxa diving history, and is still a solid value for those interested in an intriguing vintage-style watch, one likely to increase in value over time.
For the most recent article in the “Vintage Eye” series, in which we compare the Corum Heritage Coin Watch to its historical predecessor, click here.
Caleb Anderson is a freelance writer with a primary focus on vintage watches. Since first discovering 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.