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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 none other than the father of SCUBA himself, Jacques-Yves Cousteau.
Since wearability was crucial, Eschle designed a large case with wide rounded lugs. For the dial, the team tested many colors (orange, yellow, turquoise, and red) in the waters of Neuchatel Lake before hitting on what would be the distinctive orange dial most associated with this watch, and used an unprecedented amount of tritium on the hands and hour indices. The team 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. 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, DOXA initiated subtle changes in the watch's design, including different dial colors, a thicker case and a flatter crystal. The bright orange dial of the Sub300T remains the most iconic and desirable. With the seal of Jacques Cousteau's own U.S. Diver's Company emblazoned on the dial (indicating a US-market origin), it's a classic expression of a dive watch, and a must-have for any vintage collector.
Stainless steel case is approximately 42mm (excluding crown). ETA Caliber 2783 Automatic Movement. Circa 1970s.
Overall Condition: Stainless steel case is in good condition, showing normal some signs of wear and light polishing. Bezel shows normal signs of wear from use but retains the luminescent dot at 12:00. Dial is in very good condition with even patina to the luminescent elements of the hour markers and hands. Unsigned crown. Synchron case back is in good condition, with minimal signs of wear.
Includes one 20mm Tropic style strap and two 20mm nylon straps from Crown & Buckle