By their very nature, dive watches tend to attract funky design with chunky cases for water resistance, prominent timing bezels, exaggerated minute hands, bright colors and more. Some of the funkiest you'll find of course hail from the 1960s and '70s, but even among them the Aquastar Deepstar stands out as a diving chronograph that's different from most dive watches. It comes on the heels of the Aquastar Deepstar's reissue, a sequel and modern evolution featuring more or less the same design but sans the chrono and costing around $2,000 less.
While the modern Aquastar Deepstar was remade to closely follow the design and functionality of the original, this Deepstar II is a dive watch that never existed before. It maintains the spirit and basic design of the original chronograph to the extent that it might even be mistaken for it at a glance — it's still got the intriguing combination of an asymmetric dial and the technical-looking scales on its bi-directionally rotating bezel — but it's completely its own animal.
On close inspection, the differences are substantial: most importantly, this is a three-hand watch rather than a chronograph. The classic Deepstar has the standard pushers on the case side, as well as a central hand for the chronograph, the chrono minutes in the large 3 o'clock subdial and an odd but lovable propeller-like structure at 9 o'clock that simply lets you confirm your watch is indeed still running.
For the Deepstar II, all this is simplified: the chronograph hands are gone and the giant subdial has been flipped to 9 o'clock where it functions as the main time's running seconds. The other major difference is that a simpler automatic movement, the Sellita SW290, allows for a thinner and narrower case, now coming in at just 37mm. Such sizing feels appropriate and in keeping with the vintage dive watch theme but doesn't sacrifice water resistance (200m, same as the chrono) or a bold and eye-catching visual presence.
All this amounts to a dive watch that's almost as character-packed as its the original chronograph version, but simplified and significantly more affordable. The difference in price is typical for that of a three-hand watch and its chronograph counterpart from most companies: it's around half. Available in black, blue and gray dial options, it ships with a Tropic rubber strap and a Horween leather one at a retail price of $1,890, but preordering it will save you $400. (A beads-of-rice steel bracelet is sold separately.)