Doxa Sub 200
The name Doxa may seem infantile in the world of luxury horology due to a 15 year Quartz crisis forced sabbatical from the early 1980s to the late 1990s but was, in fact, created by George Ducommun way back in 1884 as Fabriques Doxa. Georges, a trained watchmaker decided on the name Doxa because it translates from Greek into English as Glory. If you wish to learn more about the illustrious history of this fantastic watch brand, please see my article at www.amjwatches.co.uk/blog/History-of-Doxa/
Georges Ducommun alongside the Watch Factory he created in 1889
Doxa became a rare breed in the luxury watch market in 1963 when they started designing and creating watches solely intended for amateur and professional divers alike. These are so fit for purpose to the point where anything superfluous is discarded. They could never be considered pretty. Which is just as much of the appeal for most.
The fruition of Doxa’s labours in this field was the fabulous Doxa SUB 300 Sharkhunter 11804-4, released in 1963. The 43mm case was a true rarity back in the day and the reason that they have become popular with collectors of vintage dive watches in the present due to the contemporary case size. Remarkably the 300m water resistance (impressive itself back in the early 1960s to the point where Doxa added an inscription on the dial declaring “Super Waterproof”) was achieved without employing a screw down crown. However, we should be reminded at this juncture that the water resistance of the case is permitted by the gaskets within and not the connection of the crown to the case. Thankfully, Doxa have equipped the new SUB 200 with a screw down crown, simply to prevent accidental lateral movement rendering the gaskets redundant.
The modern day SUB 200 with screw down crown
Revered by professional divers and watch collectors the world over and often considered to be the complete dive watch design the SUB 300T took the limelight away from the SUB 300 Sharkhunter 11804-4, but let us not forget that the wonderful SUB 200 we are presented with today represents the commencement of this outstanding horological story and one that can be purchased for less than £1000.
Doxa’s attitude gained recognition straight away, in the mid-1960s, when legendary sub-aquatic explorer, Jacques Cousteau, adopted the brand. Just like Doxa, Jacques was the first of his kind and has been emulated ever since. Jacques chose Doxa to assist him in creating the ultimate diver’s timepiece. This would evolve into the Doxa SUB 300T orange we know and love to this day. Bequeathed a modern day makeover itself, the story behind the modern SUB 300T family with its intoxicating selection of eclectic colours can also be discovered in my article mentioned above.
The surgical grade 42mm stainless steel case is elevated from pure utility with exquisite lines highlighted by contrasting polished and satin edges. Although seemingly conservative for Doxa, this constant design intonation can regularly lead to studious examination, which is a rare treat for the owner of a tool watch. The case sides are enhanced by subtle ever-increasing bevel edges that complement the overall design whilst having a primary objective of wearer comfort.
As anyone who has read my previous articles will know, I absolutely adore a domed sapphire glass. To be able to present this historically pertinent, yet normally cost prohibitive, feature on a sub-£1000 wristwatch is truly astonishing. For me it makes the watch. Interestingly, despite the delightfully exaggerated protuberance of sapphire glass, distortion to the dial is kept to a minimum and hardly ever obscures time reading. Despite the stunning case, perfectly flat sapphire bezel, cream lume and beads of rice bracelet the SUB 200 could have been rendered into obscurity within a bloated market. But, supplementing all of these glorious details with a double box glass pushes the Doxa 200 to the top of the league of a myriad of sensibly priced mid-60s dive watch reinterpretations currently on the market.
The SUB 200 is available on the brand’s famous and instantly recognisable beads of rice bracelet, and yet we’re still at under £1000 whilst opting for this well engineered accoutrement with solid machine clasp unit. An integral diver’s extension and fine adjustment are also included to ensure this unique bracelet remains comfortable through hot and cold extremes. Alternatively, for a little less money, you could opt for the originality of the incredibly comfortable FKM rubber strap. The beads of rice bracelet, especially, adds to the divergent convergence of semi-circular and planed-flat amalgamations found, at its extreme, with the domed sapphire glass rising from the flush bezel.
Why not retro-fit the FKM rubber strap for the full 11804-4 effect.
The 120-click bezel has a scratch resistant sapphire insert, which is another high-end component not normally witnessed at this price point. This also allows the bezel to have practical Superluminova© numbers. Although, I do have to remark that these are nowhere near as bright as the hands and dial markers (see luminosity image below). It has a relatively stiff operation compared to most on the market. However, this is nowhere near inoperable due to the grip provided by the sharp-edged peaks and troughs of the bezel edge. There is a confident click into each position during the rotation.
Legibility, through contrast, is assured with the adoption of polished rhodium plated hands for the black dial version and full black hands for the various coloured versions.
Even the cream coloured, vintage inspired lume has been meticulously thought out. The applied material on the hands is the same width as the applied material on the hour markers, which is the same width as the lume that is applied to the bezel. To distinguish between the two when fully immersed in deep water or darkness, the hour hand has a slight gap in the lume material, which is identical to the original 11804-4 SUB 300 back in 1963. This is a clear reflection of how Doxa has always considered every single aspect of their fit-for-purpose timepieces.
The fully automatic mechanical movement within is based on the tried and tested ETA 2824-2 25 jewel movement, running at 28,800vph, with 38 hours power reserve. ETA is the largest supplier of quality high volume movements in the world, supplying to manufacture-capable Hublot, Chopard, Breitling, Ball Watch, Tudor and Tag Heuer, to name a few.
Needless to say, the Sharkhunter black is back. However, this is complemented by an exotic array of coloured dials for which appropriate names are given. All can be chosen on the beads of rice bracelet or harmoniously matching FKM rubber straps: The Searambler is silver, the Caribbean is dark blue, the eponymous Aquamarine is, errr, aquamarine, the Divingstar is yellow and the Professional is the infamous orange.
The release of the SUB 200 by Doxa a couple of years back wowed press and consumers alike. Its easy to understand why. I’m not sure you could possibly expect more from a sub-£1000 dive watch. I appreciate I keep harping on about the price, but it is an important aspect every time we consider a luxury purchase. Knowing you are getting value for money is instant gratification, makes it easier to justify a non-essential procurement to one’s self and one’s partner, and, most importantly, is a reflection of the integrity of the brand we are investing in. No one wants to be ripped off.
It is nigh on impossible to match the Doxa SUB 200’s huge specification and covet-ability, through historical relevance, at this price point. Normally, if a brand chooses to sell at the psychological three figure price point, instead of wandering in to the seemingly much more expensive four figure segment, corners have to be cut on quality and choice of materials. The SUB 200 has a list of admirable attributes that place it in a value proposition position all of its own.
However, you don’t not need to take my word for it. The Doxa SUB 200 was nominated for the 2019 GPHG (Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Genéve, the most important worldwide awards within the horology industry.
The SUB 200 is an absolute pleasure to wear day to day, in all situations. Granted the more vibrant of the colourways may be more suitable for the boardwalk than the boardroom but there is no definitive reason to need to take off your SUB 200 during normal everyday situations.
The only true conundrum when buying your SUB 200 is which colourway to choose. Although at this remarkable price point there is a solid argument to purchase the originality imbued black Sharkhunter for the workplace and a more cheerful, less ubiquitous colour combination for down time.
The SUB 300T will always remain the flagship model for Doxa. But the SUB 200 offers that rare second watch within a brand’s catalogue that is equally a must have and would be the perfect companion, offering the same level of quality fit and finish, the same materials and movement, similar specifications and is, arguably, a more preferable daily wearer at half the price.
Many considered Doxa to be a one-trick pony, but with the SUB 200 they have conjured up something else magical indeed.
So, as an aspiring watch reviewer I realise I’ll lose integrity if I do not present a balanced perspective. This means calling Doxa out on their mistakes and misdemeanours with the SUB 200. With that in mind all I can present to you as a detrimental depiction is the Doxa fish logo on the crowns throughout the entire range is always orange. That’s it. Take it or leave it.
Facetiousness aside, it would be cruel, to the point of pedantry, to expect a full ceramic bezel, an applied date window surround or folding adjustable clasp for the rubber straps, etc, on the SUB 200, because that is not what this watch is about. Trying to elevate this humble, yet brilliant, timepiece into the luxury sector is missing the point entirely. We need to respect this outstanding timepiece for exactly what it is, which makes negative comments or constructive criticism immaterial. The SUB 200 offers the ultimate retro-inspired sports watch for the money. End of.