In news that will likely delight many fans of vintage tool watches, Aquastar, a brand closely associated with technical dive watches as well as other precision instruments, has been reborn and is launching a new rendition of the Deepstar Chronograph, a big, burly diving chronograph with some impressive technical features and a unique aesthetic that’s straight out of a 60s dive shop. Aquastar has its roots in 1962 and is said to be the first Swiss watch company dedicated exclusively to the manufacture of professional equipment for actual divers. It didn’t stop at watches, either. Aquastar made depth gauges, thermometers, and other products geared toward folks who actually spent time underwater, and sold these products outside the traditional jewelry channels, lending them some credibility with those who count on these tools in life or death situations. As with so many Swiss brands, Aquastar shuttered during the quartz crisis, but have found their way back this year at a time when interest in vintage sports watches is at a fever pitch.
The Deepstar Chronograph is 40.5mm in diameter and has a squared off, skin diver-like case shape, at least when viewed from the top down. This is a hefty slab of steel and doesn’t have the finesse of a classic skin diver, but the proportions are attractive, and if you have the wrist to pull off a larger watch the Deepstar will likely wear easily.
The dial is dominated by the large 30 minute register at 3:00 in sharp white against a black background. Aquastar has made the choice to keep the running seconds register black, giving the Deepstar Chronograph a “one eyed” look that’s unique and quite a bit of fun. The “mono compax” display is a holdover from original Aquastar designs of the 60s, and they were right to keep it in this updated version. The hour markers at 12, 6, and 9 have an almost Art Deco flair to them, which at first seems a little out of place, but adds to the overall charm of the pieces. It’s refreshing, at the end of the day, to have a dive watch option on the market that doesn’t use the standard geometric shapes as hour markers that have always been so common.
The movement is a column wheel chronograph by La Joux-Perret, a step up from more common ETA calibers often seen in watches like this. The price of the watch reflects the premium caliber inside (retail is $ 3,590, with pre-order pricing set at $ 2,790) and positions Aquastar in an upmarket tier upon their relaunch.
Among the somewhat mundane technical specifications that you’d expect for a watch like this, we learn that the Deepstar Chronograph maintains water resistance even when its pushers are activated underwater. Aquastar doesn’t say to what depth the pushers can be used (the watch is rated to 200 meters) but that should give casual, non-professional wearers some peace of mind when it comes to everyday use. The crystal, of course, is sapphire and domed, and the crown screws down. The stainless steel bezel has a “no decompression” ring, another characteristic of early Aquastar designs, and a signifier that it’s a tool meant for pros.
To start, the Deepstar Chronograph is a limited run. Each of 3 dial variants (in addition to the black seen here, blue and grey dials will also be available) will be kept to 300 individually numbered pieces. We’d certainly expect that there are enough fans of vintage Aquastar watches to give these a look, so it will naturally be interesting to see where the brand goes from here when it comes to future releases.
More info at Aquastar here.