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The Complete Buying Guide to Doxa Watches

If you dive, you should know Doxa.

doxa watches
Courtesy

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Jerry Garcia once said that the Grateful Dead were like licorice: not everyone likes it, but those who do really like it. For decades, we could have said the same of Doxa dive watches, which have always looked as odd as licorice tastes and drawn fanatical dedication from the margins.

Recently, the Grateful Dead has gained a huge mainstream fanbase in a totally unexpected comeback. Again, we might say the same of Doxa dive watches, which were wildly innovative in the 1960s and 70s, sputtered creatively during the 1980s and early 90s, and then slowly rose to mainstream popularity starting in 2002 when dive watch aficionado Rick Marei began relaunching limited editions of Doxa's licorice-flavored dive watches.

It took well over a decade for these 21st Century Doxa SUB reissues to transcend their niche and become widely popular, this in no small measure due to the contagious passion of James Lamdin of Analog/Shift and of Jason Heaton of The Gray NATO, HODINKEE, Gear Patrol and more. These two influencers, along with Marei, turned a hell of a lot of people onto Doxa divers. (Marei is no longer with Doxa, however, and over the past few years the company has reconfigured the Doxa catalog around a more conventional approach.)

old doxa ad
A vintage advertisement for the Sub 300 in French.
Galerie 123

Today's Doxa divers range from relatively accurate recreations of sixties models to some new affordable offerings, all-carbon divers, and interesting chronographs. Those in the know prefer the accurate reissues over all else, largely because they're the original designs and, importantly, because those older styles often include the patented, dual-scale diving bezel. (This, when used in conjunction with the US Navy's dive tables, provided an easy way to calculate off-gas intervals between dives.) This technology is entirely unnecessary in the age of dive computers, but it is an absolute must for hardcore fans of the original Doxa SUBs.

Things To Know About Modern Doxa Divers

Colors: Until recently, Doxas mostly came with dials in silver (The Searambler), black (The Sharkhunter) and orange (The Professional), with a few oddball colors thrown in over the years. Today Doxa also offers yellow (The Divingstar), dark blue (The Caribbean), aqua blue (The Aquamarine), and together these six colors (and their names) form most of the colorways available across all the models.

Straps and Bracelets: Today rubber straps that match the dials are available for most Doxa models, but hardcore fans require the beads-of-rice stainless steel bracelet for the ultimate vintage Doxa experience. The rubber is excellent, with loads of silicone and a silky, pliable feel. The bracelets are some of the best in the business: secure, comfortable, weighty, and highly polished.

Bezels: The polished steel bezels on many Doxa SUBs are notorious for getting scratched up, so much so that many vintage examples have nothing left to read on them. But there's a measure of acceptance — and even some bragging rights — to having a vintage or even a modern Doxa SUB with a scratched bezel. Think of it like a pair of Levis that are much cooler once broken in by their owner.

The Doxa SUB300T Conquistador that was developed in the 1960s in conjunction with Jacques Cousteau featured a special bezel. This bezel included the innovative and patented dual-scales that worked with the US Navy's dive tables. Theys come in both feet (the original metric used in the 1960s that complied with US Navy diving standards) and also in meters. Watches using the scale in feet (not meters) are usually labeled with a "T" in the reference number.

jacques yves cousteau wearing a doxa watch
Jacques Cousteau was an ardent Doxa fan — so much so that his company U.S. Divers became the sole U.S. distributor in North America for a time.
Courtesy

Cases and Shapes: Some, but not all, of the modern Doxas are relatively accurate recreations of vintage models, especially the SUB 300 models. These are characterized by an egg-shaped cushion case with broad flanges extending past the bezel. Over the years there have been modern interpretations in larger sizes [link to my 3-doxa dive article, perhaps?], such as the Sub 750T, 1200T, 1500T and so on. Typically, Doxa is quite good about noting what is an accurate recreation and what's not.

Also worth noting is that the SUB 200 model achieves an introductory price-point. These are stylish and durable dive watches, to be sure, but they also represent something of a lower rung among aficionados who care deeply about the vintage case shapes. Put differently: not all current Doxa divers are as licorice-flavored as the funky classics.

The Catalog

SUB 300T
doxawatches.com
$1,890.00

The big dog of Doxa reissues, the SUB 300T is based on the venerable 1969 SUB 300T Conquistador, which included the aforementioned dual-scale rotating bezel with depth in feet (not meters), and is thus compatible with the US Navy dive tables. This is the one that Jacques Cousteau helped develop, and which he later adopted into his line of Aqua Lung products. The beads-of-rice bracelet and flat cushion case abound with late 60s wild style. All the amenities of a purpose-built diver are on board. (Note that this reissue does NOT feature a helium escape valve, however.)

Diameter: 42.5mm

Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber matching dial color ($1,850); beads of rice stainless steel

SUB 300
$2,450.00

Based on the 1967 model that launched the SUB series of divers, today's SUB 300 is a quintessential Doxa diver. The lack of a "T" in the title tells us that this watch uses meters (not feet) on the diving scale of the bezel. It is also slightly thinner than the 300T, and its movement is COSC chronometer certified. The crystal here is domed sapphire, not plexiglass like that of the original.

Diameter: 42.5mm

Movement: ETA 2824-2 COSC automatic

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber matching dial color ($2,450); beads of rice stainless steel

SUB 300 CARBON
doxawatches.com
$3,890.00

Using forged carbon for the case and a titanium, water-resistant inner chamber, this watch is ultra light and ultra modern despite its otherwise vintage design. The diving scale is in meters (not feet), and it's otherwise available in the six standard Doxa colors on a rubber strap and features a COSC-certified movement.

Diameter: 42.5mm

Movement: ETA 2824-2 COSC automatic

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber matching dial color or black

SUB 300 CARBON AQUA LUNG US DIVERS
doxawatches.com
$4,790.00

Similar to the SUB 300 Carbon above — everything is the same here with the exception of the US diving scale in feet (not meters) and the inclusion of the Aqua Lung logo on the dial. Only available in the special black and yellow colorway, this one is all about modern tech and vintage vibes.

Diameter: 42.5mm

Movement: ETA 2824-2 COSC automatic

Water Resistance: 300m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber (black)

SUB 1500T
doxawatches.com
$2,390.00

Larger, heavier, and including a helium release valve and a whopping 1,500 meters of water resistance, this watch takes the original SUB 300T and ups the ante for a diver ready for long-term commercial and exploratory expeditions. This bezel is in feet (not meters) in a nod to the original Conquistador. Available in all six colors.

Diameter: 45mm

Movement: ETA 2892-2 automatic

Water Resistance: 1,500m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber matching dial color ($2,350); beads of rice stainless steel

SUB 4000T (Limited Edition)
doxawatches.com
$3,890.00

A bit of an oddball in the collection, the SUB 4000T is a limited edition of just 300 pieces with the steel diving bezel scale in feet (not meters) — or you can get one of only 200 units with a ceramic bezel using a traditional 60-minute timing scale ($3,890). Large, and with a refined and rounded case shape, the 4000T feels more like a modern watch, despite its vintage style cues. A power reserve gauge marked "Safe Dive" is located at 8-o'clock, and will indicate that the watch has ample power stored for a long-range dive.

NOTE: This one is only available on a limited basis and in a limited range of colorways. Check Doxa's website for availability.

Diameter: 47.5mm

Movement: ETA 2892-2 automatic

Water Resistance: 1,200m

Strap/Bracelet: Flat-link stainless steel bracelet

SUB 200
doxawatches.com
$950.00

A favored contender in the sub-$1,000 dive category, the SUB 200 brings a very basic dive watch to the Doxa lineup. But it does so with Doxa style: aged (read: beige) luminescent material, basic markers and a standard timing bezel. The case shape is a fun nod to the Doxas of yesteryear, if not quite as funky. It's also available in an all-white version called Whitepearl.

Diameter: 42mm

Movement: ETA 2824-2 automatic

Water Resistance: 200m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber matching dial color ($950); beads of rice stainless steel

SUB 200 C-GRAPH
doxawatches.com
$2,790.00

Taking the SUB 200 format and adding in a chronograph function, this watch is an adventurous move for modern Doxa, as it fits within a very short list of modern diving chronographs. The subdials tally up seconds, minutes and hours, while the main minute hand can be used along with the standard 60-minute timing bezel. This format makes timing your whole dive as well as other shorter decompression intervals a cinch.

Diameter: 45mm

Movement: Sellita SW510 automatic

Water Resistance: 200m

Strap/Bracelet: Rubber matching dial color ($2,750); beads of rice stainless steel

SUB 200T.Graph
doxawatches.com
$4,900.00

The SUB 200T from Doxa pays tribute to the 1969 T.Graph, a standard setter in its day and a vintage collector's grail. Interestingly, this new watch uses old-school Valjoux 7734 movements, which are about 30-years-old — Doxa claims that all of the movements have been thoroughly checked and revised to be ready for years of service.

Diameter: 43mm

Movement: Valjoux 7734

Water Resistance: 200m

Strap/Bracelet: Orange rubber ($4,860); beads of rice stainless steel

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