Neglect concerning the traditional suspects which can be Rolex, Omega, Blancpain or Seiko. The world of dive watches is filled with surprises, of smaller manufacturers which can be to be thought of hidden gems… And while you begin to dig into the archives of the dive watch historical past and neglect about mainstream fashions, there are some fascinating classic watches to find. Such an instance is the Aquastar Deepstar, a watch that I rediscovered when publishing a classic column. The type of watch you secretly want to see coming again. And earlier this yr, it did make its return. Having coated the launch of the 2020 Aquastar Deepstar Re-Version, I needed to expertise it within the steel. So, diving swimsuit on, scuba tank charged, let’s have a look at it.
As stated, the dive watch industry within the 1960s was pro-li-fic. Whereas a wider viewers will take into account the classics – Submariner, Seamaster, Fifty Fathoms – there have been numerous smaller manufacturers constructing dive watches, assembling components from suppliers to create leisure or skilled items. Some area of interest or specialised manufacturers discovered success and have not too long ago resurfaced, corresponding to Doxa (which has one thing to do with the watch we overview at present). Many, nonetheless, felt into oblivion and solely remained recognized by consultants or seasoned dive watch lovers.
Aquastar is amongst these manufacturers, an organization with a wealthy historical past, lively principally throughout the 1960s and 1970s, producing area of interest merchandise, and that’s at present recognized solely by seasoned watch lovers and classic collectors, however not by a mainstream watch viewers. The story of Aquastar begins in 1962, when it was based by Frédéric Robert, a diver, a sailor, a watchmaker and a mathematician. Born in a household of watchmakers, Robert took over the model JeanRichard from his father and shortly modified the title from JeanRichard to Aquastar to replicate his plan to create skilled dive watches and devices. The model earned credibility due to a number of patents, and for every of them, a brand new Aquastar member of the family was created.
The enterprise mannequin of Aquastar was, again within the days, comparatively basic, nonetheless, completely different from what we’re used these days. As professionally-oriented devices, Aquastar watches had been solely accessible by skilled diving-equipment shops and had been seldom provided on a big scale to retail distributors – which explains its modest business success.
The classic Deepstar, and the comeback
Two watches completely symbolize the spirit behind Aquastar. The primary is the Seatime, which was made accessible to most of the people by stores till 1982. The second is the Aquastar Deepstar, an uncommon, instrumental diving chronograph with a novel character. Launched in 1965-66, it featured a 100m water resistant case with built-in lugs fabricated from stainless-steel and geared up with a particular bezel with two scales. The central one was used for timing dives, the outer one was a successive/a number of dive non-decompression desk calculator.
A lot of the originality of the Aquastar Deepstar got here from its hybrid mixture of diving parts with a chronograph, in addition to the bizarre but interesting format of its dial – single contrasting counter and working indicator at 9 o’clock. The watch was powered by a hand-wound Valjoux 23, a 17-jewel column-wheel chronograph. The dial was accessible in darkish purple and on this good sunray-brushed gray color.
In 1974 Frédéric Robert retired and in 1975 Aquastar was acquired by the Eren Group, which carried out a extra mainstream technique. In 1982, the model was acquired by Marc Seinet, an avid sailor and watchmaker and the model continued the manufacturing of mechanical, quartz and LED regatta watches between 1983 till 2018.
However the story of the rebirth of Aquastar as we see it at present has to do with Rick Marei, the person behind the resurrection of many dive-oriented manufacturers. Marei was the determine behind the return of the Doxa Sub in 2001, in addition to relaunching ISOfrane and Tropic straps (beneath the Synchron group). After a number of years of discussions, Marei was in a position to purchase Aquastar with all its outdated inventory, toolings, spare components and all its blueprints and documentation. And right here’s the primary “new” Aquastar, which needed to be the Deepstar, probably the most emblematic watch of the corporate.
The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph Re-Version
So what’s the new Aquastar Deepstar? Properly, to make it quick, a distinct segment, uncommon, trustworthy recreation of knowledgeable watch. Similar to his different model Aquadive, in addition to the opposite corporations beneath the SYNCHRON Uhrenmanufaktur (Tropic and ISOfrane straps), Rick Marei has little interest in luxurious gadgets. You received’t discover desk-diving objects right here, however solely professionally-oriented watches and equipment, impressed by the golden period of the dive watch – when dive watches had been used to dive, and to not be a part of an informal apparel. And the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph Re-Version is, as soon as once more, in step with expectations.
As I defined, the article we revealed earlier this yr on the vintage Deepstar someway made me suppose that it needs to be one in every of these watches that ought to, sooner or later, resurface. I wasn’t anticipating this to occur quickly… however just a few months later, after a name with Rick, I realized concerning the comeback of the model and principally, that the primary mannequin launched would be the Deepstar. Excitation stage: excessive. Completely conscious of what Rick made with Doxa and Aquadive, I knew this re-edition of the Aquastar Deepstar was in good arms.
The very first thing to know with this re-edition of the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph is that we’re in entrance of a 90% trustworthy re-interpretation, nonetheless discreetly up to date to satisfy with fashionable requirements and mechanics accessible at present. What issues although, the design, the general skilled, instrument really feel, the show, the bezel… That has been revered. However we’re not in 1966 anymore and by 2020 requirements, some features of the watch needed to be up to date – be reassured, it principally has to do with supplies and motion.
Whereas the unique Deepstar was a 37mm watch (a decent measurement again within the days), the brand new model has grown to a nonetheless affordable 40.5mm diameter. The block-like case, with straight shoulders, built-in lugs, round brushed high floor – all of that being typical of mid-1960s dive watches – remains to be current and the watch appears to be like and feels as the unique was. The development is extraordinarily critical with a sheer sensation of high quality and robustness. The watch is made to final, little question. What must be taken into consideration, greater than the scale itself, are the proportions and the burden. The Deepstar shouldn’t be per se a giant watch, however a bit that has a real instrument-like presence on the wrist. It’s pretty heavy, measure 14.8mm in top and if the lugs are quick, the watch sits fairly excessive on the wrist. It isn’t uncomfortable nevertheless it isn’t a watch that will probably be forgotten as soon as strapped.
Similar to the unique, the watch includes a screw-down crown, easy pump pushers for the chronograph and a screwed caseback (equivalent in fashion to the unique watch). Water-resistance is strong, although, at 200 meters. One of many updates considerations the sapphire crystal, changing the Plexiglas crystal of the classic mannequin. Nonetheless, its fashionable counterpart is extremely domed and even affords charming distortions on the periphery. The watch was right here worn on a (actual) Tropic strap, supple and comfy, permitting to completely stability the watch on the wrist.
A key component of the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph was its patented bezel, faithfully reconducted on this re-edition. Bidirectional, it’s geared up with two tracks. The primary one, situated close to the dial, is a basic 60-minute scale, used to time diving periods. The opposite one, engraved on the periphery, is a so-called “Successive/A number of dive non-decompression desk calculator.” The idea of “no-deco” bezel needs to be acquainted to Doxa SUB 300 followers. But, the one used on this Aquastar is barely completely different. I’m not a diver myself, so I’ll should quote Jason Heaton on Hodinkee right here, “the markings on that bezel enable a diver to find out how lengthy she will stay at a given depth with out having to decompress on her approach to the floor. Useful, for positive, however just for the primary dive of the day. What if you wish to get again within the water in an hour or two? Sorry, the Doxa bezel received’t assist you then.”
Heaton follows explaining that “The Deepstar bezel takes into consideration this residual nitrogen and cleverly helps to calculate a brand new dive time for a second dive relying in your floor interval; i.e., the period of time you spend on the floor between dives. It does this utilizing the hour hand of the watch. When you floor, you set the bezel reverse the hour hand in keeping with the proper quantity on the desk (1.5, 1.four, 1.three, and many others.). As time passes and the hour hand strikes, the bezel signifies the lowering “co-efficient” of nitrogen in your physique, which may then be used together with the Aquastar dive desk to find out a brand new decompression time for the second dive.”
This bezel isn’t the one specificity of the Aquastar Deepstar… It was certainly a diving chronograph, a complication often reserved for racing watches however that may additionally come as very useful for a diver. It can be used to time diving periods, therefore why this watch had a really particular show, the place solely the 30-minute counter was emphasised on the dial. The small seconds right here takes the form of a working indicator, a tool that makes full sense on a dive watch to make certain that the watch remains to be working. The fashion of the unique mannequin, the design of its dial and its show, have been fully revered on this re-edition. The bizarre luminous utilized indexes, the utilitarian arms, the logos and marking… all is there, trustworthy and stuffed with old-school attraction.
three colors can be found for the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph Re-Version. Along with the current deep blue color with a sunray-brushed floor, there’s additionally a metal gray version (like the unique watch) and a matte black (extra conventional). All are geared up with gentle radium Tremendous-LumiNova. Similar to the remainder of the habillage, the execution could be very critical. Regardless of the instrumental really feel of the watch, no concessions have been made on the precision of the manufacturing.
Probably the most fashionable a part of the watch is to be discovered contained in the case. The unique mannequin was powered by a hand-wound Valjoux 23, which is after all not accessible anymore. However maintaining in step with its sense of element, the 2020 Deepstar Chronograph is provided with a motion that stands out of the gang of 7750-powered watches. Marei made the selection for an computerized chronograph with column wheel developed and manufactured by La Joux-Perret. Beating at 28,800 vibrations/hours, it boasts 55h of energy reserve and, regardless that hidden behind a closed again, is properly completed with blued screws, Geneva stripes and a personalised rotor. And due to the column wheel, actuating the pushers is much extra nice than the agency click on of a Valjoux.
The Aquastar Deepstar Re-Version is delivered on a period-correct 22mm Tropic rubber strap, matching the color of the dial. A further handmade shell cordovan strap can also be included. Each straps include Aquastar-signed buckles. A bead of rice metal bracelet can even be added in 2021, and NATO straps are additionally accessible. Lastly, an ISOfrane can even really feel dwelling on this sturdy watch.
Let’s first be goal. The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph is a enormously executed watch. The case feels strong as a rock, the surfaces are sharp, clear and the entire watch feels prefer it has been constructed with deep diving in thoughts. It isn’t a valuable accent, it’s an instrument. It isn’t a watch that you simply’ll put on on the workplace, like many fashionable luxurious dive watches. And, let’s be trustworthy, it’s excellent this fashion. It’s a watch with true diving credentials. Then again, its upscale motion and detailed dials and arms received’t disappoint homeowners of contemporary high-end watches, particularly with a worth that feels truthful contemplating the area of interest orientation.
Subjectively, I feel this is likely one of the coolest dive watches of the yr. When you settle for its cumbersome feeling on the wrist, the Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph brings nice satisfaction. It has attraction, pedigree, a novel mixture between its instrument facet and its uncommon show and dial… Will it attraction to a broader viewers? Most likely not. And that solely provides to its coolness.
Availability & worth
The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph is now provided on the market at aquastar.ch/shop, with the subsequent batch of watches anticipated to be shipped in January 2021. Present (pre-order) worth is USD 2,790, with the ultimate retail worth being USD USD three,590. Extra particulars at aquastar.ch.