When Ralph Lauren’s car restorer wanted to apply the original shade of red to one of four Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Mille Miglias ever made, he was stymied – until he found a tiny sample under the gas cap. You can understand that level of detail, right? Less understandable: why would anyone buy a reproduction 8C powered by a Buick 215 V8? Because it’s gorgeous, only car snobs will laugh and the buyer saves several million dollars. Which brings us to the DOXA SUB 300 Searambler . . .
The 1967 SUB 300 was an “it” watch in its day: a purpose-built diver with a United States Navy No-Decompression dive chart on its rotating bezel. There’s an original silver dial 60’s Searambler on sale on eBay for $9k. “The reissue versions are lovely and high grade,” seller Time Titans admits, “but having both in hand makes clear just how special the original is.”
As the $2490 DOXA SUB 300 is a more-or-less a 1:1 reproduction of the original SUB (new lume, decompression in meters rather than feet, orange logo on the crown), as the eBay offering was ridden hard and put away wet, I’m not sure the word “special” means what most buyers need it to mean.
There’s no denying that the new DOXA SUB 300 is special in its own special way. You get every last bit of the original DOXA diver’s style in a timepiece built to modern standards, complete with a box fresh COSC-certified ETA 2824-2 movement. Not to mention a two-year non-transferable warranty (excluding the bracelet).
In terms of horological stunting and flossing, why not? A repro Alfa owner has a far greater chance of being denigrated for driving a “fake” antique than someone wearing the 300 has of being dissed for faux-vintage horological pretensions. And while watch guys will instantly recognize (and accept) the new old DOXA, it’s one of those “goofy” watches that triggers a What The Heck Is That? reaction from the gen pop.
Whether or not that question comes from a place of love is down to the commentator’s relationship with the wearer and whether or not they like the SUB 300’s unavoidably retro style. Same goes for the owner’s decision to buy the watch in the first place, obviously.
If you jettison the Searambler’s historical props and sideline the inherent allure of a watch born the same year Hair opened on Broadway, you’re left with a big watch (42.5mm) with a tiny dial topped by a steeply domed sapphire crystal surrounded by enough steel to build a good sized garden shed. It’s just not my jam.
Keep in mind that I’m referring specifically to the Searambler, and that my assessment is not approved to diagnose, treat or cure any contrary opinions.
In my defense, I find all cushion-cased watches strange, unappealing and strangely unappealing. And I’m giving weight to the fact that the SUB 300 is a dive watch dinosaur; its tiny dial and bezel are only slightly more useful for underwater exploration than a kitchen egg timer.
We’re talking about a dial that clocks in at 28mm with bezel markings printed in a font size normally reserved for the bottom of payday loan applications. While the Searambler’s [relatively] large orange minute hand pops, there’s a reason dive watches have become big bezeled behemoths (e.g., the Grand Seiko SBGA229): they’re more useful than their diminutive predecessors.
Yeah, I know. So what? Thousands of DOXA aficionados couldn’t give a tinker’s damn about the timepiece’s tool watch practicality. They’d no more rely on the Seamrambler for scuba than don a diving helmet to look for mermaids. Besides, in a world where the Garmin Descent Mk2i exists, all traditional dive watches are outdated.
Yes, but – most traditional modern dive watches look scuba ready, imbuing their owners with oceanic adventure cred. Wearing the DOXA is more about talking about Jacques Cousteau than pretending to be Jacques Cousteau. I’ll say it for you: OK Boomer. Moving on . . .
The DOXA SUB 300 is available on a retrofittable ratcheting rubber strap to match the various dial’s various hues: orange, silver, black, navy, yellow and turquoise. [Note: most replacement straps are currently sold out.]
The silky smooth “beads of rice” bracelet alternative attached to our silver dial Searambler is the bomb, cranking-up the heavy metal music to 11. Yes, well, “that’s a whole lot of steel” a cigar bud observed, punctuating his point with a Privada.
The SUB 300’s overall look depends on the bezel, whose look depends on the angle of the light hitting it. As these pictures reveal, sometimes the bezel’s silver, sometimes it’s black. When it’s silver surrounding silver, it’s all a bit much.
As I’m sure the sale numbers indicate, when it comes to the DOXA SUB 300 it’s go orange or go home (and stay there until everyone’s vaccinated).
That’s the color that won the brand’s Lake Neuchâtel underwater legibility contest. The one that scores a similar victory on dry land. The one that makes the boldest statement. There’s a reason Mr. Lauren’s restorer went to such pains over paint. Color matters.
The new SUB 300 is almost exactly like the old SUB 300, only better. While it’s cheaper than a vintage SUB, there’s nothing cheap about the way it’s screwed together.
With a bit of easily available service, the DOXA SUB 300 Searambler and its Crayola cousins will look and work just as well 53 years from now as they do right now. And then, by God, they’ll have genuine vintage cred. How great is that?
Model: DOXA SUB 300 Searambler
Diameter: 42.50mm x 45.00mm (dial 28mm)
Lug width: 20mm
Crystal: Glass box sapphire
Material: 306L stainless steel, unidirectional rotating bezel, screw-down crown
Movement: COSC certified ETA 2824 automatic
Power reserve: 38 hours
Weight: 5.3 ounces (with three links removed)
Water resistance: 30 ATM / 300 meters / 984 feet
RATINGS (out of five stars):
Design * * *
Nearasdammit exact replica of original 1967 DOXA SUB 300 – a big watch with a tiny dial.
Legibility * * * *
Surprisingly easy to read – all the other colors are even better.
Comfort * * * * *
Beautifully made silky smooth “beads of rice” bracelet and secure clasp makes it heavy metal heaven.
Overall * * * *
Not a practical dive watch and plenty pricey, but if you like the design, you’ll love the watch.
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No considerations were provided for this review.