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1943 was the height of World War II, but it was also the year that would forever change the nature of skin-diving, and would serve as the genesis of a classic timepiece design: the diver's watch.
In the icy waters of the Marne River, a young lieutenant in the French Navy by the name of Jacques Cousteau tested a new apparatus that he developed with his colleague, Emile Gagnan. Prior to this year, diving for extended periods was only possible with the aid of long hoses connected to tanks on the water's surface. But Cousteau and Gagnan designed a regulator to emit air at an intake of breath, hooking the regulator to a hose that was connected to two tanks of compressed air that could be strapped to the diver's back.
After a few slight adjustments to the intake and exhaust valves, Gagnan and Cousteau patented their invention, calling it the Aqualung. By 1946 the Aqualung was being sold in France to commercial and amateur divers, and by the 1950s it was available in the US and Great Britain.
The advent of SCUBA made skin-diving as a sport much more accessible to lovers of the sea. Before electronic diving computers, watches were a crucial tool for divers, who required them to calculate dive and decompression times, and they needed specialized, easy-to-read watches. Rolex and Blancpain's iconic dive watches were released during this decade, the Submariner and Fifty Fathoms, and both have become the stuff of legend.
The success of the Submariner and Fifty Fathoms drove DOXA to develop a dive watch of its own. It had to be comfortable, rugged, and above all reliable, with a dial that could easily be read in the murky depths of the ocean.
Research and Development for the Sub 300 began in 1964, under a team helmed by Urs Eschle, the brand's head of operations, who consulted professional divers including the father of SCUBA himself, Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Since wearability was crucial, Eschle designed a large case with wide rounded lugs. To maximize dial visibility, the team tested many colors in the waters of Lake Neuchatel before deciding on bright orange, a choice that would become the brand's calling card. To further enhance view-ability underwater, they applied an unprecedented amount of tritium on the hands and hour indices. The team also implemented a unidirectional bezel with an innovative insert: the U.S. Navy No Decompression chart, with the outer depth scale in orange and the minute scale in black, to allow divers to gauge how much air was in left in their tanks. This design was entirely new for the era, but is now a required addition to any ISO-rated diver's watch made today.
Rounding out the Sub 300's innovative design was a beads-of-rice bracelet that was the first to implement an ratcheting expandable clasp capable of fitting over a diver's wetsuit without having to remove links.
With the introduction of the Sub 300T in 1968, DOXA initiated subtle changes in the watch's design, including new dial colors, a thicker case and a flatter crystal. The bright orange dial of the Sub 300T Professional remains the most iconic and desirable.
This particular Sub 300T has one of the strongest cases we've ever seen here at Analog/Shift (and we have seen quite a few). It's quite rare to see one with the original paint so intact on the bezel. The sailing ship on the case back indicates that it's an early example of this classic design--another attractive feature that makes it highly collectible.
Our Founder has a particular fondness (that's a nice way of saying obsession - JL) for these watches, and in his tenure as a DOXA obsessive he's had only two examples that came with their original papers come through his hands--this is one of them.
On an early style Expandro beads of rice bracelet, this Sub 300T is perfect for an enthusiast of 1960s divers who desires a collector-grade example of this classic and important diver's watch.
Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). ETA Caliber 2783 Automatic Movement. Circa 1970.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in great condition with sharp lugs and no signs of over-polishing. Case does show normal signs of use and wear in keeping with its age. Bezel is in excellent condition with original painted indices completely intact. Dial is in excellent condition with crisp printing and even patina to the luminescent elements. Correct unsigned locking crown. Early case back with sailing ship logo is in very good condition with light signs of wear.
Includes early style Expandro 20mm beads of rice bracelet with diver's extension and Synchron clasp. Also includes two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle
Also includes service booklet and guarantee papers dated July 1970.
Analog/Shift stands behind the authenticity of our products in perpetuity.
We back each Analog/Shift vintage timepiece with a one-year mechanical warranty from the date of purchase.
All of our watches include complementary insured shipping within the 50 states. We are happy to hand deliver your purchase in Manhattan or you may pick it up at our showroom.
Please contact us prior to purchase for additional details on shipping and payment options