The Doxa SUB 300 is among the most important diver’s watches ever created. Since its introduction in the mid-1960s, it has become the definitive model in Doxa’s collection, a dive watch with a unique identity, a true instrument watch recognizable from miles away. A slightly underestimated icon, the SUB 300 is acclaimed and much appreciated by those in the know. After several limited editions paying tribute to the original 1967 model, Doxa brings back the SUB 300 this year as a full and permanent collection – and we were able to spend some time with these cool watches!
From 1967 to 2020, the Doxa SUB 300
The Doxa SUB 300 is a dive watch of great historical importance. In the 1940s, Emile Gagnan and Jacques-Yves Cousteau developed the first Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus (a.k.a. SCUBA) to reach worldwide commercial success, the CG45. Military and professional diving needs, coupled with the growing popularity of scuba diving, underscored the importance of robust and trustworthy underwater instruments. A few years later, the first modern dive watches were born, including the Blancpain 50 Fathoms and the Rolex Submariner in 1953/1954.
Fascinated by the development of these underwater activities and exploration, Urs Eschle, head of product development at Doxa, envisioned an affordable, purpose-designed, professional-grade watch for the growing community of underwater explorers. And instead of a copycat product, he decided to start from scratch, setting up a research team with several professional divers and experienced watchmakers.
After three years of development with a team composed of professional divers (among whom diving legend and Cousteau team member Claude Wesly), the Doxa SUB 300 was presented at the 1967 Basel fair. The Doxa was designed as a function-first watch. It featured a massive, compact tonneau-shaped case providing enhanced protection. Water-resistant up to 300m, it was equipped for the first time with a unidirectional bezel engraved with the US Navy’s no-decompression dive table. The bright colour dial was fitted with oversized luminous markers and the crucial minute hand was prominent in comparison to the secondary ‘straight’ hour hand.
Multiple editions would follow, including ultra-collectable models created together with “Black Lung”. Year after year, the Doxa concept evolved and gained in technicality becoming more robust, more modern… and maybe slightly less attractive to the eyes of true diver’s watch enthusiasts. Until 2015/2016, when the brand decided to celebrate its 50th anniversary with style, introducing a collection of models true to the original concept, in terms of shape, design, proportions and colours. These 50th-anniversary models were available in limited production only, with black, silver and, of course, the iconic Professional orange dial.
The 2020 Doxa SUB 300 Collection
Things are changing at Doxa, which is under restructuration and has been cleaning its collection to refocus on what matters: the cool diver’s watches. Among them is, for instance, the accessible SUB 200 Collection (under EUR 1,000) or the recently-launched and bold SUB 300 Carbon Aqua Lung Sharkhunter. This summer, it’s time for the icon, the classic SUB 300, to come back in the permanent collection, in all six Doxa signature colours, and each available on steel or rubber strap.
At first sight, there’s no mistaking the provenance of these 2020 models. They are true to the original mid-1960s concept and are immediately affiliated to the Doxa SUB family. Compared to many modern Doxa in the permanent collection, these new SUB 300 are clearly playing on the retro vibe, with multiple references to the vintage models. And as such, they are very close to the 50th-anniversary limited editions launched in 2015/2016, however, some differences do exist.
No surprises regarding the case; it is the typical robust and highly protected Doxa stainless steel case measuring 42.5mm in diameter. Due to its barrel shape, it feels relatively large, however, keep in mind that this watch is more compact than expected. First of all, the lug-to-lug dimension is only 45mm and if the thickness is in the norm for an automatic dive watch, the case has a thin profile with most of the depth absorbed by the crystal and the caseback. With its screw-down crown and caseback, the watch is water-resistant to 300m.
One of the most distinctive elements of a Doxa is its bezel and the ratio between the case and the dial. The latter is small while the bezel is wider than most competing watches, giving the watch its unique look. Also, the unidirectional bezel, with sharp notches on the sides, features two distinct scales. The inner one, with its black-filled engravings, is a classic 60-minute track. The second, either in turquoise, orange or yellow (depending on the dial), is a depth indicator, here in metres – marking the first difference with the 50-year editions. On top, like the 2016 limited models, is a domed sapphire crystal that mimics the original Plexiglas.
While the classic beads of rice bracelet, with polished and brushed links, is still part of the options available for the Doxa SUB 300 (it wouldn’t be a real SUB 300 without this bracelet), the brand also adds the option of rubbers straps, either in black (for the black and silver versions) or in tone-on-tone colours (for the navy, orange, yellow and turquoise dials). In either case, the strap and bracelet are equipped with a folding buckle with a diver’s extension.
As for the dials, we also note some evolutions. First of all, all six Doxa signature colours are now available. In addition to the classic Black Sharkhunter, Silver Searambler and Orange Professional models, the 2020 Doxa SUB 300 will be available in Navy Caribbean, Yellow Divingstar and Turquoise Aquamarine. The painted indexes and the shape of the hands are faithful to the original watch, and so are the cross-hair and the off-centred logos. Another difference with the 50-year models appears on the hands, as the minute hand is now orange or black.
Under the solid steel caseback, adorned with the brand’s logo, is a tried-and-tested movement, the ETA 2824-2, which is also chronometer-certified by COSC – guaranteeing the watch’s chronometric performance and precision. The movement runs at 4Hz and stores up to 38h power reserve. It displays the date at 3 o’clock, in a framed window – again just like the older models.
Price and availability
The 12 references of the 2020 Doxa SUB 300 (6 colours, each with steel or rubber strap) will be part of the permanent collection and available as of today at www.doxawatches.com.
The rubber strap models will be priced at CHF 2,450 and the versions on beads of rice bracelet at CHF 2,490.