The trend of re-editions is vogue these days, however, for this particular brand’s relaunch things are somewhat different. It’s not just a re-edition but also a brand resurrection. Some may say this is perhaps a little risky, but something tells me this might just be the best way to both resurrect a brand and a forgotten but iconic watch design..?
Aquastar was founded in 1962 in the city of Geneva in Switzerland by Mr. Frédéric Robert. In getting his new company off the ground, Mr. Robert, who was also a diver, a sailor and a watchmaker, acquired the brand JeanRichard whose name he soon changed to ‘Aquastar’ to reflect the idea behind his venture, that is to create instruments specifically for professional divers and aquatic activities. Within ten years of its foundation, Aquastar had been awarded 4 patents: the inner rotating bezel in the Model 63, and the multi-dive “no decompression” bezel deployed in the Deepstar, the Benthos and the Regate watches. This would set a precedent for all future Aquastar watches, which were all designed around specific patents, expressly purpose-built for divers.
Aquastar timepieces were seen as strictly professional instruments, so these specialist dive watches were only available through professional diving equipment outlets and were never offered on a large scale in retail distributors. While Aquastar timepieces set milestones in the development of the dive and regatta watches, the lack of mainstream distribution channels could have been the reason why the brand did not achieve the commercial success it should have had.
Over the past few years, for reasons I can’t seem to put my finger on, I’ve come to admire these the original Deepstars – perhaps it’s the quirkiness of the oversized seconds sub dial, or even maybe its sharp angled case but whatever it is I think these divers’ chronographs are quite something. The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph was used by the one and only Jacques Cousteau and his crew on the Calypso back in the sixties. It sports and unusual but unique little propeller seconds hand and one of the biggest contrasting subsidiary dials of all vintage watches.
Just under a week ago the Aquastar Deepstar returned and so did all the little quirks we like about it too but in a more contemporary package. The dial of the new Deepstar features a matte black dial with a large white sub dial at 3 o’clock and little propeller seconds hand at 9 o’clock. It also sports applied indices at 6, 9 and 12 that have been formed in similar fashion to the original. Perhaps one of the coolest details included is the use of lume dots around the dial. However, unlike the original the Aquastar Deepstar Re-Edition will be available in three dial options: blue, grey, and the original black; each limited to an opening series of 300 individually numbered pieces.
In-keeping with its historical predecessor as a professional instrument, the modern Aquastar Deepstar is water resistant to 200 meters, and is topped with a scratch-resistant domed sapphire crystal. Its pushers have also been engineered to be safely activated underwater – a rare trait of a true dive chronograph. Just like the original, the stainless steel case is topped with a rotating bezel bearing the brand’s own “no decompression” table that a diver could use to time repeated dives, in addition to calculating the duration of time which could be safely spent at any given depth without needing to incur a time-consuming and potentially dangerous decompression period.
Powering the new 2020 Deepstar Chronographs is a custom Swiss-made column wheel chronograph movement from La Joux-Perret – specialists in Swiss-made manufacture calibres, and the perfect partner through which the Aquastar’s signature mono-compax display could be preserved, just as Frederic Robert himself once envisioned.
The 2020 Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph is a faithful reinterpretation of a legendary timepiece, albeit with one noticeable difference that I haven’t yet mentioned; the 40.5mm case size. The original Deepstar had a 37.5mm case – so the size difference on the re-edition is noticeable, not to mention the 14.8mm height (excluding sapphire crystal). That said, I don’t think the proportions are that far beyond many modern chronographs, let alone dive watches – something one must remember. All the details that have been reincorporated into this re-edition is quite remarkable and it also comes on the Tropic strap is rather fitting. To resurrect a name like the Aquastar at this moment in time is a pretty bold move and I tip my hat to the figure behind the brand: Rick Merai, the man who helped bring global notoriety and widespread sales success for another legendary dive watch story: DOXA Watches. The Aquastar clearly has a vintage appearance but it doesn’t look out of place in 2020 and the addition of dial colour options, offers a more contemporary look. The new Aquastar Deepstar Re-Edition is good looking watch and provides something different to the currently oversaturated watch space, at very interesting price point.
As mentioned, the Aquastar Deepstar Re-Edition will be available in three dial options. The Aquastar Deepstar Chronograph has a full retail price of $3,590, but it may be pre-ordered during the brand’s launch period for $2,790. Available exclusively from aquastar.ch