Dive watches seem to have an inherent appeal among watch enthusiasts. Even people who will never go deeper than a 10ft swimming pool are drawn to these tough, purpose-built timepieces. When talking about classic dive watches, names like Submariner, Seamaster 300, and Fifty Fathoms surely come to mind. There is another watch with just as much significance, yet hasn’t quite gotten its day in the sun like the others. It has a storied history, and has been worn on the wrists of divers for decades, including none other than Jacques Cousteau. That watch is the DOXA Sub 300T, and it is the newest addition to the Wound For Life Hall of Fame.
DOXA was founded in 1889 and had always produced quality timepieces, but it wasn’t until the 1960’s when they started developing dive watches that put them on the map. The 300T was created in 1967 and immediately set a new standard in the world of dive watches. Created with direct input from Jacques Cousteau, the 300T represented the ultimate tool watch of the era. It features many innovations that we take for granted today, but were revolutionary for the time.
The 300T was the first dive watch to have a bright orange dial which improved legibility under water. This is a DOXA signature that has been imitated by countless others throughout the years. It was also the first watch with a uni-directional rotating bezel. That bezel was also engraved with the US Navy’s no-decompression dive limits, functioning as a rudimentary dive computer. The bracelet was also the first to feature an expanding clasp that allowed the watch to be worn over a wetsuit. in 1969, DOXA came out with the 300T Conquistador which was the first commercially available watch outfitted with a helium escape valve. Although Rolex released the 5514 Submariner before the Conquistador, it was only available to COMEX divers. While DOXA does not produce their own in-house movements, this isn’t necessarily a drawback, despite the recent craze. The 17 jewel ETA 2852 movement used in the original 300T, the ETA 2783, 2472, and the 25 jewel ETA 2824-2 still used today are all workhorses that can be easily serviced just about anywhere. When it comes to diving, reliable instruments are most important, leaving no room for “Is that movement in-house?”
At 42mm, and with a cushion style case, it’s easily wearable. What’s more, the 20mm lugs provide the wearer unlimited options, from the original “beads of rice” bracelet, to a rubber dive strap, and to any NATO strap. There were several dial options, each with a corresponding name. The professional has the classic orange dial, the Sharkhunter has a black dial, the Searambler has a silver dial, the Caribbean has a blue dial, and the Divingstar has a yellow dial. The Sharkhunter, besides having the coolest name, looks the best in my opinion and can be worn in any situation. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a bright orange dial peeking out from under your shirt sleeve.
After virtually disappearing, DOXA was revived in 2002 and their current lineup pays direct tribute the great watches of the past. The impact the DOXA Sup 300T made in world of diving and horology as a whole is undeniable. It’s a shame they aren’t often raised to the echelons of the other more famous Swiss dive watches if its day. The 300T is a classic, tough, reliable piece that is unmistakable as a tool watch — and, lest we forget, it looks as good today as it did in 1967. It’s amazing to think so many standard features on modern dive watched being invented and implemented on a single reference. The DOXA Sub 300T was truly ahead of its time.
To learn more then you ever thought possible about the 300T and DOXAs in general, check out doxa300t.com by Dr. Peter Millar.
Featured image courtesy Gear Patrolby