Doxa Sub Series Diver Watch: Finding Your Own

Mar 17, 2014

DOXA has been producing beautiful Swiss pocket and wristwatches since they were founded in 1889 in the Jura Mountains of Neuchatel, but didn’t receive widespread acclaim until the sports watch boom in the 1960s.  At this time, DOXA moved from producing casual and dress timepieces to the heavy-duty diver’s watches we told you about last week.  Now we’ll give you some pointers on how to go about finding one for your collection.


The DOXA Sub Series began with the original 300 Professional in 1967, and went on to include variants such as the Searambler, Divingstar, and Sharkhunter.  These models are virtually identical to the Professional, but feature silver, yellow, or black dials respectively. Harder to find are DOXA’s T-Graph models, which feature a chronograph complication and multicolored dials.  These come at a considerable premium to the time/date versions.  The most sought-after models are the Conquistador, which has a Helium Release Valve, and the prototype  “Black Lung,”  which features an early version of the US Diver’s logo.

Here are a few key points to consider when looking for a vintage DOXA:

  1. Dial – A number of dial variants existed throughout the production run of the 300 Sub series.  The most desirable versions are early “plain” dial versions and those featuring the “Aqualung” logo, which were retailed through Cousteau’s US Divers Co..  Later dials had the Synchron Group logo – which clutter the dials a bit and are subsequently less valuable. The most important thing to look for is originality.  Since large numbers of these were actually used while diving, many sustained water damage and have had the dial or hands refinished or replaced.
  2. Bezel – The rotating steel bezel on the DOXA Sub series is a completely irreplaceable part.  Refinishing the painted markers isn’t a problem but if the bezel is missing, you’re not likely to ever find another.
  3. Bracelet – Most DOXA Subs were sold on a beautiful (but ultimately very fragile) Beads of Rice bracelet with expanding diver’s clasp.  These bracelets are very rare today, and can command big money by themselves!

In terms of pricing, vintage DOXA Subs range from about $1,000 for a rough time-only model to around $5,000 for the chronograph versions.  There are only a handful of Conquistadors and “Black Lungs” known to exist and pricing could go as high as $7-$10,000.

When it comes to finding a vintage DOXA Sub, get ready to do some digging.  Most collectors haven’t yet caught on to their significance, so very few dealers are likely to stock good examples.  Your best chance is going to be locating one from a DOXA enthusiast on one of the popular Internet forums, such as Dive Watch Connection, WatchUSeek, or Timezone.  These are often the best examples available, having already been scrounged and sorted.  Of course, there are no promises regarding their authenticity or originality, so look for seller feedback and a high level of knowledge about the piece in question.  As always, buy the seller, then the watch.  They also turn up on eBay periodically, but again, caveat emptor!

In 2002, DOXA (now under the ownership of the Jenny Group) was reborn, and began producing new sports and diving watches inspired by their vintage models.  Today’s timepieces are robust tool watches with a great aesthetic, and while in our mind they will never quite fill the shoes of the original timepieces from the 60s and 70s, they are wonderfully thought-out.  If you love the look and history of the DOXA Sub series but would prefer a watch you can actually take diving, be sure to check them out here!

Words by: James Lamdin - A vintage watch connoisseur and founder of analog/shift ( , an online boutique for a curated selection of exceptional wristwatches.

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