The Doxa Sub 300 - The flagship model is back, and this time it's not limited...
The world of watch brands seem almost tiered in reputation amongst the population. There are brands like Rolex, Omega, Tag Heuer and Seiko who everyone and their mothers have heard of. Then we get to brands like Patek Philippe, Audemars Piguet and Jaeger Le-Coultre. Still very well known brands but ones that require a little more digging to acknowledge and appreciate.
Once you go down a few more layers of research and voyages of discovery, you’ll land at 'under the radar, but fiercely followed' brands. This is where we find ourselves today, with Doxa and their new (but also old) SUB 300.
A brief history lesson on Doxa Watches
If you’re hot on your Scuba and commercial diving you’ll probably be familiar with Doxa already. Taking interest into the gear and tools required to plunge beneath the surface will naturally lead you to what was used before today, and if you do that Doxa will be staring right back at you. Doxa was one of the brands who responded quickly to the boom of interest in diving back in the 50s. It was a time when exploration of all kinds was on the rise and for the watch world, a time when true legends were born.
We all know this as a time when the Blancpain Fifty Fathoms, Rolex Submariner and Omega Seamaster dominated the professional scene, but Doxa was making its own waves on the commercial side with a certain Sub 300. Jacques-Yves Cousteau was potentially Doxa’s greatest and most important milestone. The French naval officer, explorer and conservationist (amongst many other things) essentially pioneered scuba diving and passionately emphasised the importance of conserving our great oceans. And guess what he had on his wrist? Yup, an orange dialled Doxa.
Nowadays Doxa pulls on this history and association to create pieces that keep the unique charm of a Doxa alive. This latest addition to the range, the Sub 300, is exactly what you might expect from a watch with the same name as the original. A faithful re-creation of a timepiece that shaped the rest of Doxa’s destiny.
The Doxa Sub 300 - What it does
The model we have with us today is the ‘most Doxa’ example available. A bright orange dial on the beads of rice bracelet. Ask people who are familiar with Doxa to draw one, and they will be reaching straight for the orange pencil.
With a case width of 42.5mm, thickness of 13.4mm and a lug to lug distance of 45mm you may be starting to think this watch is quite a beast on the wrist. Well, yes and no. 42.5mm is on the larger side, however, there are a few brilliant little details that help ensure the Sub 300 is enjoyable for all. Let's get the obvious one out the way, a 45mm lug to lug is pretty short when compared to other diving watches. The tonneau case shape also plays its part in helping to keep the footprint of the piece compact.
Next is the thickness and at 13.4mm it sits right on the fence between being a slender, slim watch and a chunky noticeable one. However, a domed sapphire crystal and a disappearing case back means the case and bezel that is actually visible on the wrist is actually closer to 8mm tall. Finally, there is the small dial effect.
When this watch first arrived on loan I sent an image to WatchGecko Online Mag writer and friend Chris Parry (@fadedbezel on Instagram) and his first response was ‘ Did the small dial shock you too?’. To my surprise, although the case width is noted as 42.5mm the presence and positioning on the wrist is reduced thanks to the window for the dial being only 27.2mm wide. This almost oxymoron like approach to watchmaking pleasantly shocks in the most understanding way when wearing a Sub 300.
The dial has an array of features that all come together to hint that this watch has practical, purpose DNA on offer as well.
From the blown up minute hand, thinner hour hand and seconds hand with chunky lume plot sweeping around the dial to the hint at a crosshair design, date window at 3 and the bold use of orange itself. There really is no denying the Sub 300 is made with functionality at number 1.
If you were not convinced of the Doxa’s credentials so far, look no further than the bezel sporting both elapsed time scale and a version of the United States Navy No-Decompression dive chart.
Powering the latest Sub 300 is the COSC certified ETA 2824-2 movement. Most reading this will be familiar with this movement by now, but if you’re not, it is pretty much the go-to Swiss automatic movement for watches priced from £500 - £5,000. For the money, you get hand winding, hacking, 28,800 vph and 38 hours of power reserve.
As the name suggests, the watch comes with 300 metres of water resistance and a screw-down crown which should be plenty for all the challenges daily life throws at you.
Getting hands-on with a Doxa has been a long time coming for us here at WatchGecko. I’ve admired their work and loved their unique aesthetic ever since their solid gold 200 T.Graph forced many of us to stop and see what they were up to. Spending time with the Sub 300 has been a true pleasure, providing a connection back to a love of vintage watches all over again. The most noticeable initial shock came in the form of the case construction. And spoilers, it was a positive surprise.
For a larger watch on paper, it feels incredibly slender and refined on the wrist. The thickness is one aspect of watches I look at right away. It’s as important as the case width as a thinner watch provides a far more connected and harmonious experience. You notice a thick watch on the wrist, a good thin watch isn’t noticeable - in the best possible way. The Sub 300 is winning on this front. If you can get past the slightly different look, wearability is A1.
Everything you see here has a reason for being present - of course it does; it's a diving watch after all. The watch comes with the added bonus of personality though. A combination of the case, that lovely reduced dial those dark glossy hands and the pop of vibrate colour. You really can't help but smile when the Sub 300 is on the wrist. It’s different, it’s quirky and it’s out there.
Although the Professional we have with us today is regarded as the classic Doxa with the orange dial, the Sub 300 is available in six colours. A black dial, silver and orange make up the familiar options but a navy blue, turquoise and bright yellow have arrived this year. Previously the use of orange was for practical reasons. Orange was thought to be a more visible colour underwater with legibility being vital to divers.
However, nowadays the importance of colour has evolved. I see these new colours playing an important role in keeping the Sub 300 looking young, modern and fresh. Doxa clearly sees the future being a colourful one as well, with each Sub 300 available on a colour matching strap. We’ve said it many times before, but watches can transform with a strap change, and it looks like Doxa are keen to ensure this unique watch design continues to remain desirable and current for the foreseeable future.
Each coloured dial also has downright cool names to go with them. ‘Sharkhunter, Searambler, Divingstar, Caribbean and Aquamarine’. If those names don’t make you want to get rid of every dress watch you own and become a 100% diving watch collector, I don't know what will.
Watch Straps for the Doxa Sub 300
Going into replacement watch strap choices for the Doxa Sub 300, we already know that the watch suits being on both rubber and steel bracelets, however we’d like to show the watch in a slightly different light with a few replacement watch strap choices.
Marazion Mesh Weave Military Nylon in Green
To kick things off we’re starting with a choice that feels a little closer to home than you might expect. The Marazion Mesh is a beautifully soft military nylon with a mixture of weave patterns and a combat green colour to offset the pop of orange. But what sets this strap apart from another other green fabrics is the pattern we see. If you look closely you’ll see a pattern down the length of the strap that closely replicates a beads of rice bracelet design. This strap choice is a subtle yet effective way of making the Doxa feel updated but familiar at the same time.
Dulas Vintage Leather Dress Watch Strap Light Brown / White Stitching
Next up is the Dulas in Light Brown and simply put, this is the strap choice to go for if the historical importance and positioning is important to you. Although originally designed for dressier watches, this strap has a boxed off stitching design around the top of the strap that wraps around the whole edge of the strap. This option has the white stitching to add some contrast and complement the details found in the dial of the Doxa. This strap really has a complete package feel with comfort, soft lining and unique texture to the top leather all thrown in.
ZULUDIVER Padded Tropical Rubber Watch Strap
And last but not least we have a Tropic Rubber strap. When you’re talking about diving watches, it is hard to avoid the universal appeal of a tropic rubber and with Doxa it is no different. But this choice is a new version, offering a slightly different look to what you might expect. This new padded version of the strap extends the thickness to 4.5mm at its highest and also extends the carbon fibre-like design all the way to the edge of the strap, dropping the harsh edge of the traditional Tropic straps. This smooth looking Tropic also removes the perforations and keeps things simple but incredibly effective. If the details of the original Tropic Rubber didn’t quite do it for you, we’re certain this Padded version will.
Things we would change on the Doxa Sub 300
As with all of our reviews, we also include a few comments and aspects on watches that we would change given the chance. Some watches are easier than others and the Sub 300 is one of those harder examples.
For want of a better word, the Sub 300’s visuals certainly could be referred to as being iconic. When you’re dealing with something that is this instantly recognisable and universally loved by many fans, it is pretty difficult to start picking holes in it. The reason why we know the Sub 300 and Doxa now is partially down to how everything looks on the watch, and it's a massive reason as to why people invest in Doxa and have done for decades.
How about some modern-day usable features? - Let’s be honest, if you buy this watch you’re buying it for nostalgic purposes. With the advancements of diving computers, the diving watch is very much an obsolete piece of kit. It isn’t essential anymore. But the diver extension still appears on the bracelet for the Sub 300. I’d love to see the option for a half-link extender on the bracelet rather than the diver extension so each type of Doxa wearer would be looked after.
Final thoughts on the Doxa Sub 300
Doxa sits in a wonderful position in the industry. They have a fantastically well built modern product that can look backwards in the most honest of ways. Unique isn’t always a positive thing but fortunately for Doxa it most certainly is, especially with the Sub 300. With a loyal fan base that is smaller than Seiko but equally as passionate built up from true divers and diving connoisseurs, the winning formula is there on the table for all to see and enjoy.
The Sub 300 COSC offers all the historical visuals and charm of the humble, simple diving watch in its purest form. A passion for the unusual but brilliant is required to fully appreciate the Sub 300, and once you have it, it is only a matter of time before a Doxa will be on your wrist.
We'd like to thank Doxa Watches for sending the Sub 300 in for review on loan. To find out more be sure to head over to the Doxa website here.