Amidst the vast ocean of dive watches, there has been a notable resurgence of vintage inspiration. The deeper the descent, the cloudier the waters become with the flotsam and jetsam of “fauxtina” and manufactured heritage. There are instances, however, when sunken treasure is discovered hidden among the detritus. The recent reincarnation of Aquastar, and subsequent announcement of its flagship release, the Deepstar 2020 re-edition, has the chance to be just that.
In 1962, the Aquastar watch company was borne of utility. With the ever-increasing popularity of scuba diving in full swing, founder Frederic Robert seized the opportunity to create a true diver’s watch. In fact, his primary goal was to innovate and manufacture the ideal tool for underwater activities. Take the bi-directional bezel of the Aquastar 60, the internal rotating bezel of the Aquastar 63, and the “no-decompression” bezel of the Deepstar. These components were all designed and implemented looking through the lens of the target audience. Given the attention focused on practical oceanic application, it should come as no surprise that these timepieces found their way into the Trieste Bathyscaphe, multiple “man-in-the-sea” programs, and aboard the prolific R/V Calypso helmed by renowned oceanographer and conservationist Jacques Cousteau.
Model: Deepstar 2020 Re-edition Chronograph
Dimensions: 40.5mm x 14.8mm
Lug Width: 22mm
Water Resistance: 200 meters (pushers operable underwater)
Case Material: Stainless steel
Crystal/Lens: Domed sapphire
Movement: La Joux-Perret Swiss manufacture caliber, automatic column-wheel chronograph
Strap/Bracelet: TROPIC rubber & Horween leather
Price & Availability: $3,590 (pre-order price: $2,790), ships in November
Within the Aquastar archives, no single piece is more iconic than the Deepstar, and the decision to introduce this as the first model from the re-launched brand proves just that. The key hallmarks of the original Deepstar remain front-and-center on the 2020 re-edition, while practical upgrades, like pushers that can be safely activated underwater, have been made to bring the watch fully into the 21st century. The quirky mono-compax subdial serves as a 30-minute timer, while the “no-decompression” bezel allows trained divers to resurface safely. The masterful blend of contemporary materials and technology with the aesthetic of the original mid-1960’s design results in a modern explorer’s timepiece that captures the charm of the initial iteration.
Available in three colors (black, blue, and gray), the 2020 Deepstar is, admittedly, a bit more robust than its predecessor. This is only natural given the inclusion of a custom La-Joux-Perret manufacture calibre automatic movement, as opposed to the hand-winding movement of the vintage Deepstar. This upsizing results in a 40.5mm case with a thickness in excess of 14mm, which is the most notable change (in terms of visuals) from the first release back in 1962. While the black dial is the most traditional, and true to source, the gray dial is highly reminiscent of the Aquastar 63. This sunburst effect on vintage Aquastar pieces is notoriously difficult to photograph but emanates a sheen that is captivating, both in-hand and on-wrist.
Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the new Aquastar Deepstar 2020 is that it represents an entirely new era for a storied brand. This is a company that was present at the pinnacle of ocean exploration. When Aquanauts pioneered saturation diving to dwell within undersea habitats, they trusted Aquastar equipment to keep them safe. The Deepstar is unique among modern offerings, and if this first release is a sign of what is to come, it looks as if Aquastar may once again take its seat among the royal court of vintage divers. The Deepstar 2020 re-edition will be available in October 2020 with an MSRP of $3,590 ($2,790 with preorder). For more information, please visit Aquastar’s website: aquastar.ch.